Chaminade, the host NCAA Division II school, earned a lot of fans and respect with its 82-74 loss to Michigan State. The Silverswords led in the second half and out-rebounded the Spartans 35-30. All of the WSU coaches watched from their baseline seats, and they saw a team that is a legitimate opponent.
I’ll call Chaminade a possible middle-of-the-pack MVC team – based on one viewing. Maybe that’s unfair after seeing them once, but the Silverswords are impressive. Maybe they’re not quite that good. Maybe they’re a little better. Their weak spot might be depth, but there appear to be several Division I talents on the roster. They’ve got a legit big man (Mamadou Diarra) and a quick point guard (Steven Bennett) and some shooters. The Shockers will know they can’t mess around. Diarra went for 16 points and 11 rebounds. Bennett, the kind of player who has given WSU trouble, scored 20 points and handed out 10 assists. “They weren’t just lucky – they were good,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. Chaminade coach Matt Mahar watched WSU’s loss to UConn. “They really scared me,” he said. “They were so physical, so tough. They’ve got shooters. They run a lot of good stuff.” WSU gets a slight rest advantage for the 9 a.m. (local) game. Chaminade practices from 8-10 a.m., so they’re used to early morning runs. Mahar said his preparation will focus mainly on players, not breaking down WSU’s offense. Bennett and Diarra both played 38 minutes. “It’s not going to be a lot of learning their sets,” Mahar said. “We have to play really, really well to keep it close.”