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Aquinas Saints vs. Western Michigan Broncos Basketball Preview

WMU starts off the season this Sunday facing Aquinas College in what is, de facto, another exhibition game. Will the Broncos start on the right foot? What questions will be answered in this match-up?

Bronco head coach Steve Hawkins.
Bronco head coach Steve Hawkins.
Jared Wickerham

The Broncos' MAC title defense season will first see an attack from Aquinas College - a NAIA school 45 minutes north of Kalamazoo in Grand Rapids, MI. I'm not really sure how a non-NCAA school wasn't scheduled as an exhibition, but NCAA Division III Kalamazoo College was (maybe one of you could enlighten me!), but regardless, let's talk about the Saints and this game in general.

The Saints' head coach has an interesting background
Aquinas head coach Dave Hammer (bonus points for a kick-ass name), has been with the Saints for 12 years, in which he tallied 100 wins faster than any other coach at the school. He was an assistant for the University of Michigan from 1984-1988 and then at Southern Methodist University from 1989-1993. Over that time he participated in five NCAA tournaments and was part of three conference championship teams.

I'm not sure of normal coaching experience at this level of basketball, but this ain't a bad resume. So it's safe to safe to say even if Aquinas won't be able to match the athletic talent of Western, the team will be well coached.

The Broncos should win this easily
Objectively, the Broncos have waaayyyyy more talent and experience than Aquinas. This is simply the case when a NAIA school plays a team that won a NCAA D-I conference championship last year. The best player for Aquinas is probably senior guard Anthony Williams, who the Broncos will seek to contain with both David Brown and Austin Richie.

Aquinas will probably start with three forwards and two guards. It will be interesting to see if WMU head coach Steve Hawkins will counter with a large line-up of his own. Which leads directly to our next segment:

Who will get the starting nod for the Broncos?
We know that Richie, Brown, Haymond, and Tava will all be on the floor for the Broncos at tip off. But who will Hawkins give that fifth spot to for the first regular season game? Against Kalamazoo College, Drake LaMont got the honor, but Hawkins indicated that the spot had yet to be locked down.

Whoever it is, I think Hawkins will look to use this game as testing lab for the team chemistry necessary to take on Oakland University on Wednesday, November 19. LaMont might be the guy to give the Broncos added defensive presence.

Gametime: Sunday, November 16, 2:00 pm Eastern

Location: University Arena, Kalamazoo, MI

How to watch/listen to: The game will be heard on select stations of the Bronco Radio Network, including flagship 96.5 FM WZOX in Kalamazoo. The game can also be viewed with paid subscription at wmubroncos.com.

Prediction: Western Michigan wins 85-45.