Hello Cougar Nation and Merry New Year to All.
So, today we play the Trent Johnsons--Bayou style.
The key for this game as well as all of the others is really simple:
LSU is long and athletic, so we will need to both shoot over them as well as stop and pop.
In that way, I think that the mid-range game is really the key for us today. And so, today's X factor is none other than Forrest.
In the end, I don't like our chances in this game: X country trip, morning game, and playing against a coach that knows the system and personnel well. At home or at a neutral site, we win this game. Unfortunately, playing in LA is pretty much a straight L.
LSU 63 WSU 57
I'll be back in a few with a game time thread.
15:00 1st Half. WSU 2 LSU 0. Nice start. Baynes and Forrest have two fouls in the first five minutes. Thompson still running to wide on the ball screens. I am hoping that we come out of the break with CAPERS and CASTO. The PAC D looks to be a bit confusing to the Tigres.
11:50 1st Half. Good guys 4, their guys 3. To say that this game is offensive would be an insult the word "offense." LSU is simply lost against us, and we are showing EXACTLY why we could be anywhere from 3-8 in the PAC. Our D is fine, but we simply CAN NOT score. Hopefully, CAPERS will get some time to see if that opens up Klay and Taylor a bit more. CASTO's energy has been nothing short of terrific.
7:44 1st Half. US 9, Them 8. CAPERS comes in as 2 guard, puts up 2 bad shots, has 2 turnovers, and is slow getting back on D. Ah, Freshmen. Taylor has played every minute of the game which doesn't bode well down the stretch. BUT, he had a nice step back three a few minutes ago which might portend that he's heating up.
BUT WHERE'S THE MID-RANGE GAME??? Notice that we are taking NO shots 5-12 feet from the basket. But man those shots are there.
3:36. Them 19 US 15. The theme of the game now is pretty well established. They're daring us to pull up from mid-range and we're not. We've now passed up 4 eight footers in a row in favor of dumping the ball off in traffic. That has lead to turn-overs and transition opportunities for them. Forrest, in particular, has passed up all of his looks. He needs to shoot that 8 footer.
0:56 Them 23 US 21. Harmeling is back in. Has he taken ONE shot all stinking game??? Should we start calling him Casper?
HALFTIME. Them 25 US 23.
Overall, great performance defensively. And its pretty amazing that we're only down by a couple given Baynes' absence for the entire half. The key for the second half will be that stinking midrange game as well as post play (LSU defends the drive but NOT the post). IF we start shooting it, we will start making shots AND reducing their opportunities in transition. This is the type of game where Cowgill made such a difference, but Harmeling has to step up. Its unacceptable for a senior leader to be so passive offensively.
15:51 2nd. LSU 33-30. We are hanging in there--BARELY. They are doing a really nice job of kicking the ball out weakside off the double team and have gotten WIDE OPEN threes as a result. Meanwhile, Nick just hit a three off of a Baynes kick-out: THE first touch for Baynes in the half. Why he doesn't get the ball everytime down is just beyond me. We have TWO ASSISTS so far in the entire game.
12:00 38-35 COUGARS. Klay Thompson has started to shoot well. His tear drop jumper really makes me want to cry. Meanwhile, Forrest has proven to be the X factor with 10 points and a ton of energy. Harmeling is on the bench.
The only concern I have right now is that we're starting to extend a bit on the perimeter defensively. If we sit back a bit, it will minimize our need to help underneath--which will reduce the kick-out. The use of the mid-range game has shut down their transition. How our bench plays in the next five minutes will be the key of the game.
TWO SECONDS LATER (SAME SCORE). Baynes just got his third on the biggest ticky-tack block of all time. Watch Thompson's play on the defensive end. He's got the PAC defense down pat right now. Really exciting to see. Really exciting.
10:00 45-38 Cougs. We're on an 18-5 run right now thanks to Taylor and Klay getting off. If we stay back just a bit defensively, we'll end this game. Our commitment to the midrange game has limited their opportunities in transition.
7:46 47-42 Cougs. Critical time in the game. Capers in for Thompson who is getting a blow. LSU is making a bit of a run. The key for us will be patience offensively and not extending so high defensively. They only shoot well from long range when they're open. Give them space on don't give up the paint. Critical possessions ahead.
6:00 49-47 Cougs. LSU just hit a deep three to bring this game within one bucket. As soon as Thompson left the game, we got tight. CAPERS, meanwhile, has not gotten it done. He's a better natural defender than KLAY but doesn't know the system.
5:30 50-49 LSU. This will be a great test for us. The Mo is completely in their court. Nick needs to get out of the game and Baynes needs to get into it. Taylor is doing WAY too much dribbling right now. It needs to be the KLAY-BAYNES show down the stretch.
3:54 51-50 LSU. Nick still in the game, got beat defensively, then fouled his guy--although he missed the J and there was a no call. Then, Taylor rushed a three at the offensive end. We need to get a two man game with Baynes and Thompson. NO THREES.
2:08. 53-52 LSU. Baynes just got his fourth on a bad call resulting from an equally bad entry pass from Nick. Taylor and Nick have been HORRIBLE down the stretch. Just horrible. Meanwhile, CASTO has not played since the first half--which is dissapointing since he played great. This game has gone from one that it felt like we were going to walk away with to one that we can't win.
IF Taylor makes better decisions with the basketball, this will be a last possession game. Otherwise, I think that LSU will make this a two possession game in the next minute. We have only one TO left.
1:32 LSU 59-52. We just lost. Tough break with Baynes bobbling a missed free throw, followed by a deep three by NICK's man, followed by a turnover by NICK, followed by a foul by NICK on a converted three point play. Get the point?
Final LSU 64 WSU 52.
This was a great learning experience for a team that is sssooo close to being really good as we've seen in spurts--including in this game.
But right now, we're a lower division PAC-10 team in my book.
We must beat Washington, otherwise, this season might slip away before it gets a chance to start.