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The Big Preview: Morgan State

Wahoo fans have been waiting for this since last March. And with the football team going through another disastrous season, the majority of fans have been eagerly awaiting something to take their minds off the gridiron. Tonight, the Hoos open their season at JPJ against Morgan State.

Coach bennett and the Hoos get their season started against Morgan State.
Coach bennett and the Hoos get their season started against Morgan State.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

OK, first things first. Can anybody tell me what Morgan State's mascot is?




OK, it's a bear.

Now, does anybody know where Morgan State is?

OK, it's in north Baltimore, right near Johns Hopkins.

The only other interesting thing about Morgan State is their head coach, Todd Bozeman. You may remember Bozeman as the former head coach of Cal about 20 years ago, who was fired amid a series of scandals involving money to players, sexual harassment and other accusations. (OK, maybe you don't remember that.) He was essentially black-balled from the NCAA and spent the next 10 years as an NBA assistant before Morgan State came calling. His Morgan State career started off well, including back to back NCAA Tourney appearances in 2009 and 2010. His only scandal with Morgan State was much less serious and much more funny.

With that out of the way, here's the #1 thing you need to know about the Hoos and Bears matchup: It's a mismatch. Morgan State finished 7-24 last year, with just one win over a team in the RPI top 100 (Cal-Irvine). They also lost 2 home games against teams below 300 in RPI. The Bears finished ranked 337th in RPI and the same on KenPom.

The Bears were the 2nd worst shooting team in the nation last year. The main things they did well were not turning it over and forcing opposition turnovers. That, by itself, makes the Hoos a poor matchup for them. The Hoos are not a defense that looks to force turnovers. And they also don't turn it over very much on offense.

The Bears were also decent on the offensive glass, but poor on the defensive glass. Again, not a good thing against a Wahoo team that was one of the best teams in the nation on the defensive glass, and boasts two of the top offensive rebounders in the nation in Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey.

This year, KenPom has them ranked 323rd in the preseason. The Bears would like to play a much faster pace than the Hoos will play, trying to get out and run at every chance they have. This is likely the only way they will have success against the Hoos, as the Bears simply can't compete in the half-court against the Pack-Line defense.

Projected Starters:
PG Donte Pretlow
SG Andrew Hampton
SF Cedric Blossom
PF Kyle Thomas
C Cliff Cornish

The top returning player is Cedric Blossom, who led the team in points and rebounds. He's 6'6" 225 and can put the ball on the floor or score inside, depending on matchups. He's the one threat the Bears have who can cause problems for the Hoos. He also played High School ball with Justin Anderson.

Pretlow is a decent pass-first PG who can't shoot at all. Hampton is basically their only threat from outside. Thomas is a stretch 4, but he also doesn't really shoot the ball very well. And neither Thomas nor Cornish are much of a threat on the inside.

The last time the Hoos played Morgan State was in December 2012, and the Hoos won 75-57. That game was perhaps most notable as being Paul Jesperson's best game as a Wahoo. The Hoos actually trailed 21-18 at one point, and Tony Bennett was very unhappy with the Hoos effort in the game. Here's the highlights, including comments from Coach Bennett:

That Morgan State team was better than the current version. And, as we know, this Wahoo team is much better than that one was. The Hoos should win this game easily, and likely by 30+ points.

This game is a good candidate for the Pack Line Pledge.