BY SPNW Staff 04:10PM 11/24/2011

Huskies Host The Huskies — Of Houston Baptist

UW’s only home hoops game between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15 brings in a small school with new NCAA Division I ambitions.

Aziz N'Diaye (5) and Darnell Gant (44) of the Huskies grapple for a rebound. The Huskies host Houston Baptist Friday at 3 p.m. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: Houston Baptist (2-3, 0-0 Great West) at Washington (3-1, 0-0 Pac-12). WHEN: Friday, 3 p.m., Alaska Airlines Arena. MEETING: 1st. RANKINGS: Neither team ranked.  TV/RADIO: No Television / KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.

Houston Baptist, a Division I school and a member of the Great West Conference, will play Washington for the first time in a game in which the Huskies will be trying to shake off a thorough thumping administered by Saint Louis last weekend.

Washington, which will be playing its only home game between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, shouldn’t have much difficulty improving to 4-1 given that the Huskies of Houston Baptist, coming off a 5-26 season in 2010-11, are in their first full year of NCAA Division I membership.

Houston Baptist (2-3), which has lost 20 or more games in each of the past three seasons as it began a transition from the NAIA ranks, has won two of its five games this season, most recently an 88-83 decision over Cal State Fullerton Sunday.

During their NAIA years, the Huskies won nine consecutive Red River Athletic Conference championships and competed in the national tournament for 10 consecutive seasons. The HBU Huskies were also perennially ranked in the Top 25, and finished as one of the NAIA’s top 10 teams six times.

Houston Baptist will join the Southland Conference starting with the 2013-14 season.

If Lorenzo Romar sticks with the starting lineup that he used in the first four games, he’ll go with senior F Darnell Gant, junior C Aziz N’Diaye, junior G Abdul Gaddy, and sophomore Gs Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox. In the three-day World Vision Classic, redshirt freshman Desmond Simmons and true freshman Tony Wroten were the first Huskies off the bench.

RIVALRY: The teams have never met.

LAST GAME (Washington): In charge from the start, the Saint Louis Billikens of the Atlantic-10 Conference hit their first seven field goals and went on to crush the visiting Huskies, 77-64. Leading 50-25 at the half and by 29 later on, the Billikens eased up and allowed the Huskies to close the gap a bit. Terrence Ross led the Huskies with 17 points and 10 rebounds, but beyond him, little was to recommend. Leading scorer C.J. Wilcox was held to four points, point guard Abdul Gaddy had two points, and Tony Wroten was scoreless in the first half before finishing with 14 points.

LAST GAME (Houston Baptist): Houston Baptist got off to hot start, hitting its first four 3-pointers and scoring the first 14 points of the game, then held off Cal State Fullerton for an 88-83 victory in the Beryl Shipley Classic Sunday at the Cajundome. All five HBU starters scored in double figures. Freshman guard Tyler Russell hit 7-of-13 from the field, including three 3-pointers, to lead the Huskies (2-3) with 20 points and six rebounds. Freshman guard Ronald March Jr. and Marcel Smith each had 17 points,  March hitting 7-of-11 from the field.  Smith was 7-of-8. Junior forward Marcus Davis nailed all three of his 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points and five rebounds, while senior center Joe Latas scored 12 points – all in the second half – and also pulled down five boards.

COACHES: Lorenzo Romar is in his 10th season as Washington’s head coach. Romar’s Huskies have won 166 games since 2004-05 (entering the 2011-12 season), most in any seven-year span in school history. Romar signed a 10-year contract extension last April.

Ron Cottrell: Cottrell is in his 21st season as head coach of HBU and sports a career record of 396-255. He led the Huskies back to the NCAA Division I ranks after 16 seasons of building a perennial power at the NAIA Division I level.  In addition to his coaching duties, Cottrell is the associate director of athletics after spending 15 years as director of athletics. Cottrell has averaged nearly 20 wins per season in his 20-year career. He is known for his up-tempo offense and pressure defense, a philosophy he learned from his mentor, former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson.

UW STATS / NOTES: Romar needs two victories to reach 200 at Washington. His current record: 198-103. Clarence “Hec” Edmundson won 488 games at Washington between 1921-47, and Marv Harshman went 246-186 between 1972-85 . . . Four UW players are averaging in double figures, led by Terrence Ross at 16.5 . . . Through Monday, Washington is the Pac-12 leader  in 3-point FG percentage (.456), rebounds (41.0), blocked shots (5.0) and 3-pointers made per game (7.8) . . . Aziz N’Diaye leads the Pac-12 with 10 blocked shots . . . C.J. Wilcox earned the Pac-12’s first-ever Conference Player of the Week award for his 19.3 average during the season-opening World Vision Classic.

HOUSTON BAPTIST STATS / NOTES: Four players are averaging double figures, led by center Joe Latas’s 12.6 . . . averaging 73.2 points per game and allowing  78.4 . . . getting out-rebounded 38.4 to 33.8 . . . HBU has a student enrollment of 2,200.

Art Thiel

ART THIEL’S TAKE: The Huskies showed their soft, green side against Saint Louis in their first road game. With six freshmen, the Huskies weren’t ready for the Billikens’ pressure defense, a specialty of longtime NCAA coach Rick Majerus. The Huskies recovered their wits a little in the second half, particularly Wroten, who was shut out in the first half an responded with 14 points.

Unfortunately, Houston Baptist doesn’t seem to be a major test for the Huskies’ response to a major slap. Like Seattle University, HBU is making a move from the small time to Division I, and taking beatings from big-timers is a part of the deal.  An afternoon game on a rainy Black Friday during a holiday weekend should test the resolve of the hardiest college hoops fan. Then again, there’s no Sonics game to compete with, and no one can deal with relatives for 48 hours in a row. Washington 77, Houston Baptist 59.

Steve Rudman

STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: Washington has a recent history of playing  — and pounding on — small-scale NCAA teams at this time of year: 2010 — Long Beach State (UW won 102-75); 2009 — Cal State Northridge (88-76); 2008 — Pacific (88-74); 2007 — Long Beach State (84-69); 2006 — Sacramento State (83-74).

Since all of the aforementioned games quickly became routs, and since Houston Baptist of the Great West Conference (what’s great about it?) fits into the small-scale category, Washington should have no trouble dispatching the HBU Huskies by a sizeable margin. Washington 91, Houston Baptist 72.

COMING UP: The Huskies are off until Dec. 2 when they play at Nevada. The Huskies then leave for New York, where they will play Marquette in the Jimmy V Classic Dec. 6, and Duke in the CARQUEST Auto Parts Classic Dec. 10. Both games will be played in Madison Square Garden and televised nationally. Washington opens Pac-12 play Dec. 29 by hosting Oregon State.

University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results

(Rankings Are Current)

Date Opponent UW Rnk Opp Rnk W/L Score Rec.
11/4/11 vs. Seattle Pacific W 77-60 0-0
11/12/11 vs. Georgia State W 91-74 1-0
11/13/11 vs. Florida Atlantic W 77-71 2-0
11/14/11 vs. Portland W 93-63 3-0
11/20/11 at Saint Louis L 77-64 3-1
11/25/11 vs. Houston Baptist
12/2/11 at Nevada
12/6/11 vs. Marquette 21
12/10/11 vs. Duke 6
12/16/11 vs. UC Santa-Barbara
12/18/11 vs. South Dakota St.
12/22/11 vs. Cal-State Northridge
12/29/11 vs. Oregon State
12/31/11 vs. Oregon
1/5/12 at Colorado
1/7/12 at Utah
1/10/12 vs. Seattle U.
1/15/12 vs. Washington St.
1/19/12 vs. California 23
1/21/12 vs. Stanford
1/26/12 at Arizona St.
1/28/12 at Arizona 15
2/2/12 vs. UCLA
2/4/12 vs. USC
2/9/12 at Oregon
2/12/12 at Oregon St.
2/16/12 vs. Arizona State
2/18/12 vs. Arizona
2/25/12 at Washington St.
3/1/12 at USC
3/3/12 at UCLA 17
3/7/12 Pac-12 Tournament
3/8/12 Pac-12 Tournament
3/9/12 Pac-12 Tournament
3/10/12 Pac-12 Tournament