Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
The first game of the 2008 EA Sports Maui Invitational matches up the St. Joseph’s Hawks (1-1) and the #8 Texas Longhorns (2-0). Texas, at the top of the Big 12 with rival Oklahoma in conversations as to who can win the conference, needs to develop the point guard position and they will be tested in Maui. The question for the Longhorns is who will take over the reins for departed All-American D.J. Augustin at the point. Justin Mason has moved into that vacated spot in the starting lineup, and he’s had ten assists to six turnovers in two games thus far.
Even though games against Stetson and Tulane haven’t been much of a test for Rick Barnes’ team, their balance is something that should be a strength throughout the year. Four players average at least ten points per game, with senior A.J. Abrams leading the way at 18.0 ppg. Connor Atchley and Dexter Pittman are both capable big men who will develop even more as the season wears on, and Damion James is an absolute beast all over the floor. But it would be a mistake to not admit that they’re in for quite a test in this one.
The Hawks feature one of the better big men in the nation that doesn’t have his name mentioned every five minutes on ESPN in senior Amhad Nivins, and his workload got heavier the moment last season ended. Losing the multidimensional Pat Calathes hurts, as it would any team to lose a player of that caliber, but Phil Martelli’s team has enough talent back to make a run in the Atlantic 10. Nivins is shooting a remarkable 83.3% in two games, and guards Tasheed Carr and Darrin Govens can play some basketball as well.
The area that the Hawks need improvement in if they’re to win this game is shooting from behind the arc. St. Joe’s is just 29.6% from distance in two games and shot just 40.3% overall in their loss at Holy Cross. In addition to improved accuracy, the Hawks need to stay out of foul trouble in the frontcourt, as they lack the depth that the Longhorns possess up front.
WINNER: Texas MARGIN: 10+
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About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
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