INCARNATE WORD AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (Exhibition)
Saturday, Nov. 5 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)
LIVE VIDEO | LIVE STATS
THE OPENING TIP
The Willis Wilson era begins on Saturday night, as the Islanders will tip off the season with an exhibition against Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. at the American Bank Center. Wilson, who served as the head coach at Rice for 16 seasons, was named the third head coach in program history on March 25, 2011. He spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for Conference USA powerhouse Memphis under Josh Pastner.
The Islanders return just two regulars from last season's team – senior Chris Hawkins-Mast and junior Terence Jones. Other returners are sophomore 7-footer Ted Wang, who played sparingly in six games last year, and redshirt sophomore walk-on Kevin Lynch, who sat out last season after transferring from Schreiner University. The Islanders have seven scholarship newcomers – five incoming freshmen and two junior college transfers – in addition to three new walk-ons in Wilson's first season, making them the most inexperienced team in the Southland Conference.
The Islanders will take on Incarnate Word in an exhibition for the second straight year. Last season, in what was Texas A&M - Corpus Christi's second exhibition, the Islanders emerged victorious on a last-second jumper by Hollis Hill.
In the 75-74 victory, Demond Watt had 18 points and 14 boards to lead six players in double figures. Horace Bond scored 14 and snared seven offensive rebounds in the win.
SCOUTING THE CARDINALS
UIW is in its second season in the Lone Star Conference, and the squad has been picked to finish seventh in the 10-team league. Last year, UIW went 16-10 overall with a 5-9 mark in the LSC.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
With just three returning players from last season, the Islanders are one of the least experienced teams in the Southland Conference. While Sam Houston State has fewer points returning from last year, the Bearkats have a number of reserves back from last year's squad.
Starter Terence Jones and key reserve Chris Hawkins-Mast are the only two that played significant minutes last season for A&M - Corpus Christi. The Islanders return just 417 points (21.5 percent) from last year's team.
EASY AS ABC
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has historically been very strong playing its home games at the American Bank Center. Entering their seventh season in the facility, the Islanders have a 65-26 record playing at the ABC, including four seasons with at least nine wins there.
Willis Wilson will be the third coach in Islanders history to make his debut on the sidelines. The previous two coaches went 1-1 in their starts for the Island University. In Ronnie Arrow's first game – the first game in program history – the Islanders knocked off Eastern Washington, 71-67, in War Memorial Coliseum. Perry Clark's first game as the Islanders' bench boss was less successful, as his team fell to Texas Southern on Nov. 9, 2007.
A TOUGH ROAD TO HOE
As it was a year ago, the Islanders have a very challenging schedule early on in 2011-12. After opening the regular season on the road against Big 12 foe Oklahoma State, the team returns home to face off with one of the top teams in the Sun Belt – Denver. Next up is a Turkey Tuesday visit from Utah State, which lost just four games a year ago.
After Thanksgiving, the Islanders hit the road again to match up with Top 25 foe Texas A&M before returning to the Coastal Bend against their third Big 12 foe in under a month, Texas Tech. The Islanders also have pre-Christmas road games at Houston, Missouri State and West Virginia and a contest against Arrow's South Alabama squad in the American Bank Center.
Chris Hawkins-Mast and Terence Jones combined to average 13.9 points per game last year, but when they were on the court together, the offense ran well. In the 341:09 they played at the same time, the Islanders averaged 67.3 points per 40 minutes, five points more than the team averaged on the season overall (62.7).