Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rolaids Game

And oh what a relief (and release) it was.

Need, proof? How about this exhibition of man-love after beating a terrific, albeit unranked SC yesterday.

Now to the super-brief analysis:

First of all, the game showed what has been increasingly evident over the last few games (but has not been as noteworthy because of the losing streak): Kyle Weaver is becoming a DOMINANT player. His long range game is hitting its stride, his midrange game is improving, and his play around the basket is nothing short of spectacular. Moreover, because we have abandoned (I HOPE!) that trap defense and have been staying home, Weaver has been able to return to his chops as a terrific on-the-ball defender as well as a dude that can flat out defend a passing lane or help side as anyone that I can remember since G.P. The Dude is just flat out terrific--a real game changer.

In addition to Weaver, both Rochestie and Cowgill I thought both played well yesterday. Rochestie knotted 13 with four assists a ZERO tournovers, and Cowgill I thought played with much more confidence (Note to R.C.: Do NOT take shots without trying to use the glass. You short arm everything else--use the glass, its your friend!); D. Low played great, great defense; and NEEE-KOE-LAH slashed in a way that bodes quite well for upcoming tilts against the like of Arizona and the Quackers.

In terms of SC, well, what can you say? My take on them is that they are a team (as many young and athletic teams are) where their offense controls their energy on both ends of the floor (especially the defensive end). And, since Weaver bothers Mayo tremendously, they seem to collectively fade as their offensive struggles mount.

I say this because over the past 14 games or so, our offense and scheme has looked BY FAR the best against SC. While other teams consistently crowd us and bother us when we have the rock, SC for some reason does not. All day yesterday (as well as our January contest), the spacing on the floor, the ball movement, our off the ball movement, and our ability to get open looks was absolutely seamless. Hopefully, we can continue that down the stretch...

Which brings me to the week ahead.

As I said earlier in the year, I really think that it is high time for us to really consider starting Harmeling over Baynes. As I noted before, I think that Harmeling's presence early in the game is really key both to our ability to get him off, as well as our ability to spread the floor. As is, Baynes is clogging up the basket, not very quick to kick out of the double team, and is allowing guys to really crowd our backcourt. Moreover, because Baynes is getting foul trouble early, he has become a non-factor to us.

Again, as I've said before, Baynes' game would not change by coming in with 13:45 left in the half as opposed to starting. But, I think Harmeling's game changes a lot by being able to get in the flow from the get go. Remember, victories last year over the Zags, Arizona, and Stanford were led by Harmeling having 20+ points. He simply can not get that when playing off the bench and out of flow...

Anyhow, we'll see how things go. I think that Oregon State will be a win for us--whether its the 20 points blitz we'd like or the 2 point biter that we had last year.

Its the Oregon game that I am worried about. Will they be on? Will we stay back and make them shoot over the top of us as we have done so well over the past four games? Will we play footloose and fancy free?

We really need a sweep this next weekend, folks, in the worse way. Getting the sweep sets us up to get to that 6 win second half--something we desperately need--not only to get to the tournament, but to have a chance at making a run.

I'll post again following OSU.

Enjoy your week.

Oh yeah, WSU 69 OSU 54.


Sedihawk said...

As this weekend's games reminded us once again, sledgehammer style, but WHAT A GREAT CONFERENCE! Oregon wins by 22 at Cal? UW controls the entire game vs. UCLA? WTF? Look at the standings and it's hard to believe that our 6-5 record is actually good for 3rd place right now. These last 7 games are going to be an absolute grind, let alone the conference tourney!

wsuhoops said...

Baynes simply cannot spend extended periods on the bench. So you start Harmeling -- great, the offense is moving. But who's going to rebound? Weaver becomes your best rebounder at that point, because Baynes is FAR AND AWAY our best rebounder. It's really not even close.

If you want to start Harmeling to get him off sooner or whatever, that's cool, but Baynes has to be a key player because frankly we'll be giving up a ridiculous amount of second chance points if he's not.


Poux said...

The cougs are not trapping up top, the are hedging the screen. Whether or not the cougs do it is determined by how many on-ball screens are set.

The alternative to hedging is to go under the screen, which opens up the 3, to switch the screen, which creates a mismatch, or to double the ball, which leaves one man open. hedging the screen allows our boys to stay with who they are assigned to, without allowing a wide open roll. The job of the person who's man is setting the screen is to force the ball handler away from the basket to allow their defender to recover, and then scamper back to theirs. It the least of all evils, it's the hardest one to do, and it's definitely not a trap.

My guess is we will see it a lot vs UO, and UA, so you'd better get used to it.

Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

Nuss and Poux (e.g. Nussy Poux):

First, Nuss. You aren't going to hear me say that Baynes ain't important on offense, defense, hell even special teams. Au contraire, when he's on (which means that he's on the court) he's an MVP for us as the early season showed.

Unfortunately, the only way that he has "gotten off" recently has been "off the court" with foul trouble or ineffective play. Moreover, the double down on him when we're on offense (especially early in the game) has clogged the lane for penetration and created a stand around game that benefits NO ONE.

I am simply suggesting that we open the outside up first AND allow the game to start without Baynes picking up four fouls in the first two minutes. I think that benefits both Baynes and Harmeling. Hell, if Baynes comes in simply after the first TV time out, he may be on the court for 15 minutes more a game. And, if we're hitting from the outside, that would be a GREAT thing.

RE: Poux. Say what you want, but the stuff up top WAS a trap even if it was a way to address ball screens up top. The best way to NOT get in that situation is to not pressure the ball as much up top, feel-off the ball screen, and to concede the run and chuck three game if that's what they're gonna do.

As I've said before, I will take ANYONE beating us from three as long as its a reasonably contested shot with the defender in position. I also happen to think that our D is good enough, that we won't lose that battle over 48 minutes, especially since most of the barrage tends to come from drive and kick which doesn't happen if you stay at flipping home.

But I'll put it this way: if you see us doing that crap again against those two teams or anyone else, you'll see something that looked all too familiar lately. And it looks like this:


Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

BTW: I know that the college game is 40 mins long..I just got used to talking abot "48 minutes" during my career in the NBA.

Poux said...

You might be right about that. But we lost to AZ b/c they shot 60% from behind the arc and we couldn't get a call in the desert. You think TB is going let them get free looks by cheating under the screen? Not likely.

Besides, he's too good of a coach to change what he does from one opponent to the next. That's what you do when you are not as good as the other team. You come up with junk defenses to try and take the other team out of what they do best. When you are a good team, you just go out and do what you do, and that should be good enough against most teams to get the job done.

If we look at this season, in most of our losses it's been our O that let us down (Cal and Stanford come to mind) and our D only failed us (in my opinion) vs. UCLA the first time. Not much we could do against AZ really, they were en fuego.

So what does it all mean? I don't know, but I don't think the D will be changing anytime soon.

Let's just hope Low continues to take it to the hoop, Cowgill re-discovers his stroke (did he have one in the first place??) and Baynes stays out of foul trouble.

wsuhoops said...

If we look at this season, in most of our losses it's been our O that let us down (Cal and Stanford come to mind) and our D only failed us (in my opinion) vs. UCLA the first time. Not much we could do against AZ really, they were en fuego.

Ah, the misconception of the year. How many times do I have to say this? I posted this as a comment last week, but I'll go ahead and say it again.

2006-07 offensive efficiency (in conference): 105.2
2007-08 offensive efficiency (in conference): 111.2

Our offense is BETTER this year, and certainly good enough to win. Defense?

2006-07 defensive efficiency (in conference): 95.5
2007-08 defensive efficiency (in conference): 104.8

That last figure went down from last week, presumably because we limited USC to a 87.7 on Saturday. But enough with the concerns about offense. This offense is good enough. Period. Our D has failed us for most of the conference season, it's just that our offense was good enough to overcome it until Cal and Stanford.

Until these last two games, we really hadn't been playing D anywhere near what we did last year. Let's hope these two games represent a trend.


shane said...

I think some last minute droughts in offense that seemed to cost us against Cal, Stanford, and nearly did at ASU, contribute to the perception that our O has failed us. Adding to that perception is the unexpectedly inconsitent performance of Low. But over the enire 40 minutes it is clearly our D that is not the same as last year. I didnt have Nuss's stats to go by, but my gut told me this: Last year i would rather have a 1 point lead and be on Offense in the last 20 seconds of a game, and this year i would rather be on Offense, down by 1. We are just much, much easier to score on.

By the way, this is one of the wonkiest, most geeked-out X's O's conversations i've seen this year an i LOVE it. I feel unworthy to even participate, but i did anyway.

longball said...

Ha, exposed Shane = Longball. Sorry for any confusion.

longball said...

Oh and i meant, last year i would rather be up by one and on DEFENSE. I need a nap.

Anonymous said...

Has your hips? Recovering quickly? The OSU game is a must win. If I was TB I would be all over the team. I understand anybody in the Pac can beat anyone on any given day, but we can't lose to OSU!
Concerning UO, I think you may see Baynes start on the bench. I know Nuss is a big fan of his rebounding, but I saw a completely different team against SC w/o Baynes in there and expect because of UO's smaller lineup, we counter with Harmeling (maybe Forrest) to start.
Low please catch off screen and then dribble penetrate on occasion rather than always shooting a 3!

Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...


I feel you bro, I really do...

But when you look closer...

For example, the UCLA game, was it the Defense that lost us that game? No, it was the offense, poor shot selection, and turnovers that led to WAY too many points in either in transition (as in fast break, layups) or in quasi-transition where the other team brings the ball down quick enough that we don't get set, get the right match-ups, or lack the ability to get the right defensive call altogether.

This year, we have had WAY more bad shots and have virtually NOT CONTESTED anything on our own offensive glass--and that causes serious problems at times for us on defense.

Granted, part of our defensive woes can be traced to the scheme and trap stuff already identified. And again, you ain't gonna hear me say that the shot blocking differential between this year and last isn't a big part of the equation.

But offense DOES matter for the defensive effectiveness of this team. Not to the extent of our friends at SC, but it does matter nonetheless.

wsuhoops said...

We're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I just don't think you can make a reasonable argument that they are that interdependent given that our offense, on the whole, is better, and our defense, on the whole, is so much worse.

The offense has been good enough to win on just about every occasion, save for the two UCLA games and the Arizona game. The Arizona game is what it was -- sometimes that just happens -- and I think using UCLA as an example is just flawed. The Bruins present unique matchup problems for our offense that probably no one else in the country does.

That leaves the losses to Cal and Stanford, in which I think it's pretty obvious that defense was the difference:

-- Defensive efficiency against Cal: 117.0
-- Defensive efficiency against Stanford: 105.9

While I know offense is important and could have been the difference in those two games, I just think it's too easy to point to offense and say we should score two (or seven) more buckets. To me, it makes more sense to say that we should have been able to get two (or seven) more stops. And that's where Baynes comes in, securing rebounds.

Longball makes the best point, I think: This year, would you rather be up by one with 20 seconds to go or down by one with 20 seconds to go? Up until this point, I have had very little confidence in our defense to force a big stop, a huge departure from last year. I feel more confident about that after this weekend, however.


Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

Okay, I'll agree to disagree this one time. Seriously, if you ask me that question, I'd play d everytime...

Like I said, if we stay away from the trap I think we'll be fine..

Thank god we beat SC even if Hackett has a broken back..

Poux said...

I'll admit I have no idea how those efficiency numbers are calculated, but as far as my argument goes, I don't care. Perhaps I should have said "our FT shooting let us down" and not just blamed it on the offense as a whole. Despite what your %'s say, If we shoot our FT's better, we have a 3-1 homestand, end of story.

Interesting debate here, I think I would take the one point lead and be on D as well. Although last year it would have been a no-brainer, this year it's a tougher decision.

wsuhoops said...

Without going too in-depth -- you can do that here if you want -- the concept of efficiency is simple: It's a way to express points per possession. It removes the element of tempo (how many possessions a team has in a given game) from the conversation, which raw points per game does not. It accounts for variations from team to team and game to game.

For example, the Cougs only score the seventh-most points per game in the conference, but actually have the No. 2 offense in terms of efficiency, which is a much more accurate measure. Believe it or not, the only offense in the conference that is better than WSU's is UCLA. It's good enough to win -- and win big occasionally -- if the defense shows up, as we found out on Saturday.

So, yes, you can cling to those missed free throws and other "opportunities," but the defense -- which has gone from No. 2 in the Pac-10 last year to No. 6 this year in efficiency -- is the real culprit in those games.

wsuhoops said...

Despite what your %'s say, If we shoot our FT's better, we have a 3-1 homestand, end of story.

By the way, that's like saying the Mariners would have won a game if they would have just come up with two more hits in the ninth in a game they lost 7-6. That's the analogy you're making.

The analogy I'm making is this: Yes, it's technically true that two more hits would have won the game, but if the pitchers had pitched better or the outfielders had gotten to one more key fly ball, it's a 7-5 victory and we're not even talking about the ninth.

Either one will win the game equally well, but you've got a better chance at long-term success if your pitchers and defense play well rather than relying on your hitters. I think the same is true in basketball. Just ask Memphis (good) and North Carolina (bad).


Poux said...

Your analogy is WAAAAAAAAAAAAY more flawed than mine. Fact: The cougs were 2 for their last 6 from the line versus Stanford. They were physically at the line, we don't have to suppose anything. If the shots go in the hoop, the cougs have more points then stanford at the end of the game. No if's or but's about it. I'm not talking about trends or the season as a whole anymore, just the Stanford game.

Just admit the Cougs would have won with better FT shooting and we'll all move on.

wsuhoops said...

Whether we would have won the Stanford game with better free throw shooting is not in question. Undoubtedly, that's true.

But what if we had played better defense along the way? Say, to the tune of the 95.5 efficiency we had last year, hypothetically? Cal scores 55 points and we win by double digits. Stanford scores 52 points and we again win going away. Even if we just allow the national average of 101 efficiency, that's 58 points for Cal and 54 points for Stanford. Still easy wins.

The point I'm making is that hitting a few more free throws against Cal and Stanford might have made us all feel better, but it wouldn't have substantially changed how I feel about this team's long-term prognosis, and it shouldn't change yours, either. Those defensive flaws existed, whether we hit a few free throws or not, and defense is what's going to take us where we want to go because the offense is good enough and not likely to get much better.


PS: Sorry to hijack your thread, Brinkhater. You can have it back now. :-)

longball said...

Another point to back up Nuss here, twice this year we have had something happen that did not happen last year - we were BLOWN OUT at UCLA and Arizona. The 3 point flurry in the last 1:30against UCLA disguises the fact that we were never in that game, and after the first few minutes we were never in the Arizona game either. That just did not happen last year. Last year no matter who we played, how we performed on offense, or shot from the free throw line, we were in every game we lost in the final minute. The reason we weren't competative in those two games this year was that our defense was getting shredded. And no matter how hot Arizona shot against us, it wasnt an anomoly, every team in PAc-10 play had shot well against us to that point. I think its pretty clear, and the efficiency numbers back this up, that if you combine last year's defense and this years offense, you have a conference title contender and #2 or 3 seed, but if you combine this years defense with last years offense, you have a bubble team at best and probably an NIT contender.

Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

Hijack MY thread? Paleez, this is the Cougar Nation's thread...

I'm just glad we're all into it...

Lets see how all this plays out this week shall we?

I think we should all agree that we have looked A LOT more like us over the past few games and that has come about first and foremost because:

1) We have stopped that trap that KILLED us against Oregon and really KILLED us against Arizona.

So, lets see if we continue to see improvement in the offense as our defense returns a bit to normalcy.

I'll take a 6-3 second half RIGHT now. Getting two this week would be SO SWEET

wsuhoops said...

I can agree to all of that!

Anonymous said...

This has been some very interesting debate on this thread! I'd like to chime in and combat the notion that the Arizona game was just "one of those nights". Clearly UA shot the lights out, but the main reason they were so hot was because they got WIDE open looks at their trey attempts. Even last year, we fell victim to teams that could penetrate and then kick out to shooters on the perimeter. I remember thinking after the UA game this year that it had the same feel and symptoms of the two Oregon losses last year. Pretty much any team in the Pac-10 is going to bomb from three if they get wide open looks.