WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The UNCW men’s basketball team plays the first of only two December home games Wednesday when NCAA Division II Coker of Conference Carolinas visits Trask Coliseum for an 8 p.m. tip-off.
The Seahawks and Cobras battle in the second game of a rare doubleheader that features the UNCW women taking on UNC Charlotte in the opener at 5 p.m. It will be “Toys for Tots” night at the arena, with anyone bringing a new, unwrapped toy gaining admission for just $5.
Coach Buzz Peterson’s club, 3-4, is coming off a narrow 61-58 loss at Marshall last Saturday. It snapped a two-game winning streak for the Seahawks, who stand 3-0 at home and 0-4 on the road.
“Our guys did a terrific job of keeping their composure in the Marshall game and we just have to learn from the mistakes we made,” Peterson said Tuesday. “From a competitive standpoint, I think we’ll remember that game and come out ready to play on Wednesday.”
The Cobras, coached by 27-year veteran Dan Schmotzer, are 2-3 early in 2012-13 and edged Lees-McRae, 80-78, in double overtime Saturday, thanks to a buzzer-beating shot by senior guard Andrew Morris. Coker trailed by 14 points late in regulation, but forced overtime and nipped the Bobcats at the end.
Morris, from Melbourne, Australia is just part of an all-Aussie backcourt for the Cobras. He averages 14.2 points per game and country mate Bryce Arnott is chipping in 3.0 points and 5.2 assists each contest. Morris likes to shoot behind the arc, making 11 triples in one contest earlier this season.
“Coker is very well-coached,” Peterson said. “They’ll spread the floor out, shoot three’s and be aggressive on the defensive end. We have to get inside touches and be patient with our post feeds. We also need to get some transition baskets from our wings.
“We have to cover their shooters. I know Coach Schmotzer’s team will play hard and be aggressive. We’ll have to be focused and ready to play Wednesday night.”
Peterson won’t have to worry about Seahawk senior forward Keith Rendleman. The 6-8, 220-pounder was held under double figures for the first time in 18 games in the Marshall loss – totaling nine points – and is anxious to get back on the floor after foul trouble limited him to just 19 minutes in Huntington.
Rendleman continues to lead the Seahawks in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg). Redshirt freshman Craig Ponder, the CAA’s reigning Rookie-of-the-Week, is contributing 7.0 ppg and 1.9 rpg from his point guard position.
The Seahawks are playing an NCAA Division II foe for the first time since Nov. 24, 1996. UNCW dropped a tight 55-54 verdict to host Alaska-Fairbanks in the inaugural Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks.
Peterson is very familiar with the 12-team Conference Carolinas. He owns a 6-1 record against the loop, including a 70-35 thumping of the Cobras during his time as Coastal Carolina’s skipper on Nov. 30, 2005.
Following Wednesday’s matchup, the Seahawks head back on the road this weekend when they travel to Atlanta to face ACC member Georgia Tech in a 7 p.m. tip-off at brand new McCamish Pavilion.