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Northwood Seahawks @ Kentucky Wildcats: Game Preview

The Northwood (FL) Seahawks invade legendary Rupp Arena tonight for an exhibition game against the Kentucky Wildcats. This is your game preview.

You could see a lot of this out of Nerlens Noel tonight.
You could see a lot of this out of Nerlens Noel tonight.

Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Northwood Seahawks in the first of two exhibition games for the 2012-13 season. Here is the background information about the Northwood Seahawks:

Nickname Seahawks
Association NAIA
Conference Florida Sun
Head Coach Rollie Massimino
Home Court Countess de Hoernie Student Life Center
Enrollment Florida campus: Approximately 1000 undergraduates
Colors Dark Blue and NU Lighter Blue
Freshmen 3
Sophomores 0
Juniors 4
Seniors 7

Northwood begins 2012-13 ranked #1 among NAIA schools in the NAIA II coach's poll by just one point over last year's NAIA champion, Oregon Tech Hustlin' Owls. They are picked to win the Florida Sun conference, and they went 34-4 last season, falling in the NAIA II national championship to Oregon Tech. This is the second year in a row that Northwood has topped the NAIA II pre-season poll, and has been ranked 1 or 2 in the last 20 polls dating back to the 2010-11 season.

Let's take a look at who's who for the Seahawks:

No. Status Name Pos. Cl. Ht. Wt. Comments
0 Maj. Res. Mike Newton G Fr. 5-10 150
2 Starter Tyrone Davis G Sr. 5-2 134 Assist leader
4 Starter Dan O'Keefe F Sr. 6-5 230
5 Reserve Jerrod Owens G Jr. 6-0 168
10 Starter Tracy Parks G Sr. 6-1 162 3 pt threat
14 Reserve Austin Anderson G Fr. 6-1 183
15 Maj. Res. Kevin McDuffie G Fr. 6-3 164
21 Starter Masse Doumbe F Sr. 6-8 235 3 pt threat, leading rebounder
23 Starter Ra'Shad James G Sr. 6-1 197 3 pt threat, good rebounder
24 Reserve Jake Lockhart G Jr. 6-4 185
32 Reserve Texas Derland F Jr. 6-8 218
33 Reserve Patrick Horstmann F Sr. 6-7 237
34 Reserve Sasha Doroshkov F Jr. 6-9 232
35 Reserve Thierno Agne F Sr. 6-8 211

Comments based on game against the Michigan St. Spartans.

As you can see, the Seahawks start five seniors, in stark contrast to Kentucky's probable starting lineup that will most likely include zero seniors and even zero juniors. These Northwood kids have been playing college basketball for a long time, and that is something to be concerned about. Plus many of these kids are transfers from Division I programs, like Parks (South Alabama), Doumbe (Radford), and Lockhart (Morgan St.).

Another thing to be concerned about is their 3-point shooting. This team has a bunch of guys that can shoot the long ball, and will do so fearlessly. If they get hot from out there, and Kentucky's defense is as suspect as Coach Cal suggests, this game could be very interesting for a while. Note that Michigan St. is a much more mature team by any measure than the Wildcats, and they struggled with this team in the first half.

But where Kentucky does have the advantage is in ... well, everything other than age, experience and perhaps perimeter shooting. Kentucky is much bigger, much stronger, much more athletic and much more skilled. Notice that Northwood's biggest man is 6'8" and 235#, about the same size as Alex Poythress. Everyone else is 6'5" or under.

This is a game I expect Northwood to dominate early, give way midway through the first half, and get run away from in the second. A lot will depend upon how well Calipari can get these young Wildcats to play defense. Julius Mays' experience and leadership could be a very big factor in how this all comes together, as could that of Jon Hood and Kyle Wiltjer.

I see this game as an interesting first contest, but the 'Cats should win comfortably, say 90-56.