LMU vs. Grand Canyon (at Jenny Craig Pavilion – San Diego, Calif.)
Game Time: 4:30 PM PST
Radio: KXLU 88.9 FM
Projected Starting Lineups – LMU – Ireland, Egbeyemi, Flint, Levin, Dickinson – GCU – Garrison, Okugo, Foreman, Larson, Davis
The season is finally here. The Loyola Marymount Lions will kick off its 2013-2014 regular season with a USD Classic game against Grand Canyon University. As the first WCC game of the season, this contest will hold a special place in the heart of several WCC basketball aficionados.
Closer Look at Grand Canyon University
Conference: PacWest (Division II)
Head Coach: Dan Marjele
Record Last Season: 23-8 (14-4)
Returning Leading Scorer: Killian Larson (11.5 PPG)
Returning Leading Rebounder: Killian Larson (9.0 RPG)
Returning Leading Assister: Jerome Garrison (1.5 APG)
In Grand Canyons first year as a division I program (the Antelopes joined the WAC this past year), they are going to be looking to get things off on the right foot against LMU. With a depleted front-court, the Lions could struggle in stopping senior forward Killian Larson, who is a legitimate threat to post a double-double. The prospect of true freshman Gabe Levin going against Killian is entertaining, and Levin’s readiness for division I basketball will show through in this matchup.
On the other end of things, the Antelopes are thin in the backcourt – an area that Loyola Marymount is flush with talent. These parallels will be something to watch for sure.
*Note: Grand Canyon’s head coach is former NBA player Dan Marjele, who played for the Phoenix Suns.
Keys to the Game
The Lions front-court is going to be crucial in this contest. If the likes of Levin, Ben Dickenson – and to a certain extent C.J. Blackwell and Nick Stover – do not produce on the offense and defense end of the court, things could get interesting. The Antelopes defense will be keying on Anthony Ireland all night, and the Lions will need to occasionally rely on their bigs to knock down some shots.
This group of freshman at LMU are highly touted, and deservedly so – the Lions 2013 recruiting class has the potential to be one of the best freshman classes in WCC history. However, it is time for them to live up to all the hype. Evan Payne is out with a knee injury and Patson Siame is ineligible for this season, but Gabe Levin and Nino Jackson will be suited up and will likely play big minutes. Keep an eye out on these two and how they look in comparison to other division I competition.