Let the games begin!
Okay, exhibition games are glorified scrimmages. Let’s be real about that. But, at least these games give us an opportunity to see teams in action against opponents other than their own teammates. Sure, we have the secret scrimmages. But, those are closed to the public so we have to accept these exhibition games as is.
Four teams have already played exhibition games. The GCU men and women have already won in dominant fashion. Utah Valley women’s basketball beat Fort Lewis on Saturday. And Tarleton dominated UNT Dallas on Sunday.
On WAC Wednesday, there are three games on the slate. Two men’s teams will take the floor while the favorite to win the WAC on the women’s side takes the court.
Here are some things to watch for in each contest.
Texas Woman’s University at UT Arlington, College Park Center 6 p.m. CT
The reigning Sun Belt Conference champs are now looking to defend a conference title in a new conference. The UT Arlington Lady Mavs tip off this new era on Wednesday night in a free exhibition game at College Park Center.
Senior forward Starr Jacobs is the WAC Preseason Player of the Year. Shereka Wright is one of the best coaches in the WAC. And the Lady Mavs added some nice pieces to an experienced roster. We all know what Jacobs can do. The big question is who will step up as other scorers for the Lady Mavs.
Here are players to watch on Wednesday night.
San Diego State transfer Kamaria Gipson. At 6-3, Gipson will play in the paint alongside Jacobs. In fact, Gipson’s presence should allow Jacobs to play on the perimeter a little more. With size and experience, Gipson will be a key piece for the Lady Mavs in 2022-23.
Arkansas State transfer Jireh Washington. The 5-9 guard torched the Mavericks in 2021-22. And head coach Shereka Wright is excited to have Washington on her squad this season. Washington should take the place of now-departed Terryn Milton who averaged 11.9 points for the Lady Mavs last season.
Concordia at UTRGV, UTRGV Fieldhouse 6:30 p.m. CT
There are two things I am watching tonight in the UTRGV men’s basketball exhibition. First is the point guard play. Freshman Adonte’ Holiman and sophomore Will Johnston have been running the point position for Matt Figger throughout camp. And Figger is high on both of them. The best part, according to Figger, is they have made each other better by competing against one another every day in practice. Holiman is a 4-star recruit out of McAlester, Oklahoma. And Johnston is a JUCO transfer from South Georgia Tech.
The second thing is the size of UTRGV. Figger added 6-10 GCU transfer Dima Zdor. John Shanu II at 6-11 also gives the Vaqueros size in the paint.
With Alex Horiuk now being eligible, that gives the Vaqueros three players 6-10 or taller. Horiuk is a 7-foot freshman out of Ukraine.
PER SOURCES: @UTRGVmbb got some good news.
7-footer Alex Horiuk and 6-5 guard Noels Slivackis are now eligible for the Vaqueros in 2022-23.
— WACHoopsDigest (@WACHoopsDigest) November 2, 2022
The big thing is the health of the big men. In 2021-22, Jeff Otchere and Donte Houston were never fully healthy. So, the Vaqueros lacked size. But, Figger fixed that and is excited for his 2022-23 squad as he wants to run everything through the post.
And one last player to watch. Justin Johnson. This 6-6 guard can do it all and is as explosive of a player as there is in the WAC. Johnson led the Vaqueros in scoring last season at 17.1 points. And most of the time down the floor, Johnson got a touch. Keep an eye on him tonight.
Western New Mexico at New Mexico State, Pan Am Center 7 p.m. MT
Pace of play. That is my big interest in this exhibition game tonight for the new look New Mexico State Aggies.
Lots of guards, not as much size as years’ past, and more up-tempo. Aggie fans have to be excited about that.
It also should be noted that Deuce Benjamin might get more minutes tonight. With Xavier Pinson still waiting to be cleared to play, Benjamin will be able to get some minutes.
Keep an eye on Deshawndre Washington who has been with Greg Heiar now for two years. The 6-7 guard can play multiple positions and finish above the rim.
Another player I have been told to watch is Anthony Roy. Some say he is NBA ready. At 6-5, Roy has the athleticism, strength and shooting ability to be dynamic for an already dynamic Aggie squad.
Check out what Aggie beat writer Stephen Wagner is watching for tonight in this Aggie exhibition game.
Whether or not you want to call tonight NMSU’s official season opener is entirely up to you, even though it’s an exhibition game against a Division II opponent. But we can still identify a few storylines to watch this year: https://t.co/6euvGQCmai
— Stephen Wagner (@stephenwag22) November 2, 2022