“If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” — Sun Tzu,
The UAB men’s basketball team will tip off the 2016-17 season with a match up against Division II Lindenwood out of Saint Charles, Missouri. The Lions finished with a 16-14 record and a fifth place finish in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association last season.
The Blazers cruised in last year’s exhibition defeating Cal State East Bay 99-59. However, do not assume exhibitions cannot be lost and won’t be competitive. Just two seasons ago UAB lost its exhibition game to UNC-Pembroke 72-71.
The Lions return only three major contributors from last season and just two consistent starters in Brad Newman* and LJ McIntosh. They’ll be replacing their leading scorer and rebounder. Other than the two mentioned, keep an eye on former Richmond Spider Chandler Diekvoss who started all but four games last season for the Lions.
(* Brad Newman was suspended from the team October 24)
It’s difficult to identify the key players to watch for in this game because last season only Newman averaged double-digit scoring. This was largely due to departing Cory Arentsen who was a 1,000 point career player for the Lions and attempted more than double the second most shots attempted by Newman.
Second year coach Lance Randall will have his work cut out for him replacing Arentsen’s 24 points per game average.
3 Things To Watch For
- Player Rotations — Like I mentioned in the scrimmage preview article, don’t expect to see the game one starting five take the court first Thursday. Given the opponent, the staff will likely work deep into their roster early in the game. Do expect to see more of Denzell Watts who should be closer to recovered from his wisdom teeth surgery that sidelined him for the majority of the scrimmage.
- Tosin Mehinti — The senior set out the scrimmage due to a nagging hamstring injury. Will he make his debut Thursday night? My guess would be no. The staff has the luxury of a very manageable exhibition and first game against Arkansas Pine Bluff to continue to rest the interior enforcer. The more time he can rest the better before the competition ramps up significantly in late November.
- Freshman Contribution — Both newcomers shined at times during the scrimmage. Now we’ll see if they can duplicate that performance in front of a larger crowd during an actual 40 minute game. Their quest for minutes this season will begin Thursday night.