SMU has had a week of rest following last Sunday’s game vs. Yale, and I’m sure they needed it. Yale was everything I cautioned they would be. SMU barely squeaked by the pesky Bulldogs with a win. That being said, the game was everything we as SMU fans have expected games in Moody to be – loud, competitive, and electric.
Yale was an emotional roller coaster ride. How do I know this? Some guy standing behind me in The Mob uttered this phrase around seven minutes into the second half:
“Bologna fudging mustard how many three’s are these guys going to make?!?!”
Yep, “bologna fudging mustard,” his actual words. I might have to start using that.
But wait, haven’t I heard that somewhere before?
Oh yeah, thanks John.
Anyways, SMU has another Ivy League opponent this week: Brown. I know we’re all still getting over the fright Yale gave us, which is why I’m here to break down the game for us. Here we go.
Predicted Starting Line-up for the Mustangs
Nic Moore – point guard
Markus Kennedy – forward
Ben Moore – forward
Sterling Brown – guard
Keith Frazier – guard
What do the Bears bring?
Brown is 1-4. With the exception of Providence and UNH, the teams they have lost to aren’t very good (Saint Peter’s and Niagara). Their sole victory has been against Holy Cross, who frankly isn’t very good either. Next to Providence, SMU is the best team the Bears will play all season, so they will really need to up their game to have a good shot at competing in this one.
Brown isn’t talentless however. 6’9 forward Cedric Kuakumensah leads the Bears in points per game (11.2) and rebounds per game (10.4). Last season, Kaukumensah set a new league record for blocks in a season (93) and ranked sixth nationally with 3.2 blocked shots per game. Kaukumensah matches up with Kennedy in size and knows how to play physically. Considering both teams look to their 6’9 forwards for leadership, I would bank on this being a fun match up to keep an eye on.
6’4 guard JR Hobbie contributes 10.6 ppg and also leads the team shooting .857 percent from the floor. 6’0 guard Tavon Blackmon has also had a good start to the season, averaging 9.2 ppg.
And then there’s Dallas native Steven Spieth. Yes, Spieth. Sound familiar? Yes, Steven is the younger brother of Jordan Spieth, the world’s current number one golfer. While Jordan is away in Sydney playing in the Australian Open, Steven returns home to Dallas to play SMU. Steven can ball though – he averages 10 ppg and is the Bears’ most active rebounder behind Kaukumensah.
SMU has three players who on average score more than or equal to Kuakumensah, and if you knocked down his ppg to an even 11 from 11.2, that number would be five. SMU has the scoring, size, and experience to man-handle Brown, now all they have to do is use what they have. The Mustangs allowed themselves to be bullied by Yale for large portions of the game, and it was only when SMU started to defend aggressively that they started to turn the tide. If SMU can get ahead early, their depth will give them quite an advantage. A SMU team that plays hard together and stays awake together wins together.
Wrap It Up
Brown, on paper, should be an easy victory. That being said, I’m sure we’ve all realized by now SMU’s potential to play poorly against easy opponents (hence Yale, Midwestern State last year, etc.). For a team who has so many critics to silence, you would think that these kinds of performances wouldn’t happen. But, maybe I’m being too critical. This has been the best start to a season SMU has had in awhile. They’ve beaten some quality opponents, and seem to be responding well to the adversity of having the NCAA force their coach to Florida for Thanksgiving. I don’t think Brown has the same potential Yale had to put us on upset alert. I’m still waiting for SMU to play a complete game – we’ll see if it happens on Sunday.