Sam Houston State Bearkats vs. St. Thomas Celts Game Preview

Joseph HealyCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2010

Coming off their most complete performance of the season, the Bearkats will come back home Wednesday night to take on the St. Thomas Celts.

The Bearkats won't need quite the offensive effort to pick up a win on Wednesday night.

The Celts are only in their second year of existence competing in NAIA as an independent under head coach Todd Smith.

Smith is best known for his work as the top assistant coach at Rice University under the highly successful Willis Wilson. His best work is considered recruiting NBA players Mike Wilks, Morris Almond, and Mike Harris to campus at Rice.

The Celts are 3-5 on the season, including a loss against the Rice Owls in their only other game against a Division I opponent to this point.

They kept the Rice game relatively close and only lost by 12, which I'm sure is proof enough to Coach Hooten and the Bearkats that they still must play their game.

It's easy to look past games like these, but the Bearkats have to find a way to stay focused and continue to improve. Even if (or when) the game gets out of hand, the Bearkats need to look at it as an opportunity to clean up some things and use the game time as a full practice.

I wouldn't expect anything to change for the Bearkats in their game plan. They have tried to get the ball to Gilberto Clavell early and often and this game shouldn't be any exception. The Celts won't have the size, strength, or skill to stop him if he plays like he did in Fort Collins on Saturday night. 

St. Thomas will at the very least provide reasonably challenging matchups for the Bearkats defensively. In terms of size, their roster is very similar to that of the Bearkats. They have one player, center Ivan Earls, who stands 6'8". Another, forward Henoc Jean, stands 6'7". Outside of those two, no player stands taller than 6'5". They do, however, have nine players on their roster who stand between 6'3" and 6'5".

The uniformity of their roster leads me to believe that Coach Smith likes to use his players interchangeably rather than tying them down to one position or another. This will serve them well when they may need to move a fresher body over to cover a hot Bearkat shooter.

If, say, Lance Pevehouse were to get hot from the perimeter, it would be a luxury for Coach Smith to be able to move one guy off of him and be able to put a similar player in his place.

I expect to see a very workmanlike performance out of the Bearkats on Wednesday night. Coach Hooten won't allow his guy to get complacent or look past the Celts. It won't take a perfect game to beat them, but any team can be competitive with them if they come out flat or sloppy.

Home games against the University of Houston and the University of North Texas are looming on the schedule. This game against St. Thomas needs to be used as a springboard into those games and not as a step back prior to them.