Scheduling has become so complicated for the Washington Huskies men's basketball team that it needed an assist from the university president...
Scheduling has become so complicated for the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team that it needed an assist from the university president on this one.
When Mark Emmert arrived from Louisiana State in 2004 to take over at UW, he casually mentioned to some of the school’s coaches that it might be nice if the schools could play someday.
“We were just suggesting that it would be a fun thing to do and if it worked, let’s do it,” said Scott Woodward, who is UW’s vice president for external affairs and worked at LSU under Emmert.
That “fun thing” comes to fruition tonight as LSU comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Huskies at Edmundson Pavilion.
And while putting together such intersectional affairs has been more difficult than UW athletic director Todd Turner said he figured it would be when he arrived in 2004, Emmert’s history with both schools paid off.
“Teams don’t want to come to the West Coast when there are so many teams of high quality in their own neighborhood,” Turner said. Emmert’s presence, he said, “made it easier for both of us to work it out.”
It also helped that LSU wanted to play a game in Oregon so that guard Ben Voogd, a native of Florence, Ore., could have a homecoming at some point in his career (LSU won at Oregon State, 60-53, on Sunday).
LSU @ UW men, 7:30 p.m., FSN
It’s the kind of high-profile nonconference game against an intersectional opponent the Huskies say they want to make a focus of their schedule, the kind of game with rewards not offered by Gonzaga — a series that will be a “temporary” casualty of UW’s new scheduling philosophy.
“It’s a different set of media that pays attention to it and that has an impact on national rankings and All-American honors and recruiting and everything else,” Turner said. “It also offers the opportunity for national TV exposures.”
As part of this deal, the Huskies will play at LSU on Dec. 29, 2007, a game Turner said he hopes will be on ESPN or another national non-Fox network to put the Huskies before a different audience.
Washington’s task on the floor tonight is to make all the effort worthwhile in a game that has increased in visibility after LSU advanced to the Final Four last April.
Washington’s only other moment in the national spotlight this season was a Dec. 9 game at Gonzaga when, as UW coach Lorenzo Romar put it, “we stubbed our toe big time.” Gonzaga won 97-77 in a game that was never close after the opening minutes.
The issue tonight may be whether the Huskies will have any defense for LSU All-American forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis, a nimble 6-foot-9 junior who has slimmed down to 290 pounds and is averaging 20.1 points and 10.3 rebounds. He has become the team’s main weapon with the early departure to the NBA of forward Tyrus Thomas (now with the Chicago Bulls).
But Davis isn’t the only threat. Sophomore forward Tasmin Mitchell averages 14.6 points and 7.4 rebounds and is hitting 45.7 percent of his three-point attempts, and swingman Garrett Temple is a defensive standout and has more than doubled his scoring output of a year ago to 12.8.
Mostly, LSU brings a nasty attitude ingrained from playing nightly in the rough-and-tumble SEC. Romar says LSU will be the most physical team Washington has played this season.
“There are going to be some bodies banging around, some fat lips, some bloody noses,” said UW forward Jon Brockman, who figures to get the main duty for guarding Davis. “It’s going to be fun.”
That is the plan, anyway.
• UW G Adrian Oliver returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday with a concussion suffered against Portland State and is expected to start today.
• LSU coach John Brady, who worked under Emmert for five years, said the Tigers made a conscious decision a few years ago to upgrade their schedule and were glad the UW series came together. “It works out a lot easier when you are willing to go on the road first,” Brady said. “The best thing about this trip is that next year, Oregon State and Washington come to Baton Rouge. No matter what happens, we’ll be better for the experience.”
• LSU has used three starting lineups this season, including a three-guard lineup against Oregon State on Sunday, and might mix things up again tonight.
• Terry Martin, a 6-6 guard who transferred from Texas Tech and averaged 7.4 points as a freshman, will be eligible to play tonight for LSU.