Greetings Cougar Nation...
Since its still very much Football season, and since Sir Brinkhater has little time to offer right now, our look at the Cougs will be postponed til closer to the Pac-10 slate. That said, here are a few quick takes and an early prognostication on this team's fortunes:
Key Things to Watch:
1) Weakside post/"help" defense. Lots has been made about the departure of Mr. Clark -- Brinkhater's MVP last year. Without question, they were MUCH better with him on the court. The reason: help side D. That said, no one should forget that weakside D is a HUGE strength of Mr. Cowgill. Unfortunately, its not a big strength of Mr. Baynes. If Baynes improves his activeness on the weak side without picking up cheap fouls, this team will be almost impossible to score against.
2) Location of Screens on the offense. During the team's dry run last year, the post players were setting screens too close to the basket, while the guards weren't rubbing off properly which meant that Low, Rochestie, and Harmeling were too crowded when they'd get the ball. If Cowgill and Baynes can screen farther out, there will be more open shots for the guards, more pick and rolls for Baynes, and more pick and pops for Cowgill's midrange jumpers. This team will defend, but if it can improve its offensive production it will be nearly unbeatable.
3) Scoring off the Bench. The idea is that Harmeling is going to be the 6th man, but honestly, Brinkhater thinks he needs to start in order to get the bounce he needs to score. If Harmeling can figure out how to assert himself offensively coming off the bench, that is one more stinkin' resource that this team will draw upon. Remember, the Arizona victory, the Gonzaga victory, and the Stanford Victory were all a result of big nights from the Big H. They need him to be a force if they are going to improve from last year's miracle season.
4) Weaver's Mid-Range Game. Kyle Weaver is the next Nate McMillan and a bonafide NBA player. Put it in the bank. The question is , can HE put it in the bank. If Weaver can develop a better midrange game, people won't be able to lay off him..if they have to bunch him to contest the mid-range jumper, he'll KILL them via penetration or the kick-out to Low. I'd like to see Weaver take lots of shots in the pre-season to develop his "feel." If he does, LOOK OUT!
5) Injuries. Let's not forget that we don't have a bunch of All Americans coming off the bench. Last year, we were remarkably free of the injury bug. Lets hope we stay injury free.
In the end, much has been made about how this team must now deal with being the hunted. Well, this team WAS the hunted for the whole second half of the year and pounded folks into the hardwood. To think that this team will not be as good as last year is just beyond me: they are going to be better because they play team ball and will be that much better in the system.
At the same time, I think that the conference overall is going to make strides which will add two L's from the teams that we beat last year. At the same time, I think we are going to split with both UCLA and Oregon this year which will balance things out. In other words, put us at #2 in the conference at 13-5 and a #2 or #3 seed in the tourney. Cougs will make it to the Elite Eight before bowing out to Memphis...
That's the way Brinkhater sees it..Enjoy the 20 point victory tonight..