Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Looking for a Split

Hello Cougar Nation.

First and foremost, to all of you who come here to read exclusively about WSU Football, please know that we have some football wrap-up stuff planned over the coming days.

So, if your wondering, the Brinkhater basketball ambush (cough! cough!) has not started. At least not yet..

But, in response to a comment by our friend, Michele, I thought I'd give you all a quick take on our boys since tonight's thrashing of Idaho State was the first time I got to see our boys play.

So, here goes:

1) Baynes looks like a different guy all around than last year and I liked him last year. A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the importance of him responding quicker to the double team. Tonight, I saw him kick the ball out to the top and to the wing without hesitation. I also saw him take the ball to the rack--without dropping his feet to the baseline--when the double team was slow. Granted, ISU ain't a Pac-10 frontline, but the reaction time was quite evident and encouraging. And you've gotta love that touch he has from the line. But our boys are going to have to shoot well early to give him space since Baylor and Gonzaga are going to focus on crowding him and Thompson.

2) Harmeling still looks like he doesn't want to shoot. I know that T-Bone railed on Taylor for not taking enough initiative offensively earlier in this early part of the season. Well, perhaps he should tell Harmeling to not come back ever if he doesn't take 12 shots in the next game. If we're going to be good, he's going to have to fill it. But you really can't fill it if you don't put the rock in the air. Without another consistent bomber from the perimeter, this team is going to have a hard time scoring on a lot of nights because they're depending too much right now on Thompson.

3) Thompson looks even better in college than in High School and I saw him score 37 in that State Championship game. Boy is Klay good. Of course the question is, "Is he good enough to lead an NCAA tournament team at this stage in his development?" As tonight showed, this team is going to go as far as Thompson can take them. And he may take them pretty far with his height and the high release point on that J. Granted, I love the kid and think he will leave as the best player to have put on a WSU uniform. But it sure seems like he's carrying too much of a burden offensively right now. And that doesn't portend well for the next two games against great athletes who are going to throw the kitchen sink at him.

4) Casto IS the real deal. He is a real centerpiece for us on defense already. It really reminds you of what last year would have looked like if Clark hadn't graduated. In any case, if we're going to steal one of the next two, it will be because of the presence that Casto gives us in the lane and on the glass. He's going to have to play lights out on D and keep his hands up when around the lane on O. Tonight, I noticed that he tends to drop his arms a bit to get position--that has to change.

5) Capers, Capers, Capers. I love his bounce and defense, I really do. But the kid looks like his shot is a LONG way off--elbow flaring out, feet not set. I am hoping that he stays the hell away from that baseline and establishes more of his game from up-top over the coming weeks even if he's quick enough to get around the basket from the wing. That said, I really wouldn't mind seeing him play more minutes earlier at the point with Taylor at the 2 (who I love on the wing), Thompson at the 3 (how about his mid-range game?), Casto at 4, and Baynes at 5. Look for that combo against Baylor and Gonzaga in the next couple of games. I think it would work well against both teams in stretches.

6) Nick. One word: Bench. Love him, I really do. But he looks to be better suited as an energy guy and slasher. We need more production out of that spot and I'm not sure he can bring it against better competition. Like I said, I love him, but I think he brings us much more as a reserve.


IF the NCAA is the goal, then you really need a great non-conference win and a couple of good ones. We whiffed on Pitt and we're gonna whiff on Gonzaga (and ya, there is NO crime in losing to top 5 teams). So, with Mississippi State in the bag, we really need to beat LSU later in the month. And we really, really, really, need to find a way to beat Baylor.

That said, Baylor is really athletic, experienced, and they can shoot the ball over the top. For us to eek one out against those boys, the kids are going to have to play great! Thompson is going to have to get 15 or more (tough, since they're going to send the house at him), Baynes is going to have to get 15, Taylor is going to have to get 10, and someone else (HARMELING!!!!) needs to score in double digits.

I don't like our chances in that match-up, quite frankly. BUT, win on Saturday night and you have a nice fat red ribbon for an NCAA tournament package in three months, you really do.

Barring injury, this team will be really good by then.

Enjoy your week. And GO COUGS!!!


James said...

Yay for College Basketball! Harmeling probably didn't shoot as much because we didn't need him too (he has taken more shots in earlier games). Capers is best at the PG position so far since he distributes and defends well, but still needs work on offense. Casto gets penalized with fouls often because of his intensity. Rochestie started look more like himself in the 2nd half, so hopefully it'll continue to the Baylor and Gonzaga game since we need him badly. Like you said, we really need someone else to step up and score some threes when we need them. It'd be sweet if Harmeling does a repeat of two years ago against the Zags and goes crazy; if not him, than some other player off the bench like Lodwick or Harthun who haven't found their stride yet.

Just some random string of thoughts lol

Sedihawk said...


Good read Basketball Jones.

This was the first extended look I have had at Thompson. He is silky smooth. It's going to be fascinating to see him develop once the PAC-10 season heats up and how he improves with experience. Better yet, how he responds to real pressure. But he's got a pretty jumper.

I am right with you on Harmeling. It's as if after those games vs. Gonzaga and Arizona two seasons ago he just hasn't taken that next step. Maybe the expectations were too high after those performances? Maybe he was just white-hot in those games, and the rest is his norm? I know I've been waiting for him to explode but I don't think it's coming. I still want him to be more aggressive too! He is THE X-Factor on this team.

Anonymous said...

I could be way off here but I think the seniors on this team are far from the most talented players on this team. Bennett is being loyal to them, nothing more. We may take a big step forward next year if we can replace Baynes, as he is the only legitimate big man that I know of on this team. Harmeling just never seemed to pan out and Rochestie may be a decent point man but there is a reason he sat behind Lowe and Weaver for 3 years.

Chris '04
Pullman, WA

Anonymous said...


you have to be kidding about Rochestie right?? If I am not mistaken, he averaged more minutes than anybody on the entire team last year. The guy has a pretty good outside jump shot when he is in a rhythm and he is always a threat to drive to the hoop or drive and dish to a big man down low. He is one of the best guards in the Pac 10! Yes you are right about losing baynes and that hurting us but this will be an even bigger blow to lose Rochestie because he is a battle tested veteran point guard. Everybody knows those are the guys who win you games in the NCAA tourney too. Bennett is being loyal to guys like this because he deserves it too. Our best chance to win is with guys like this on the floor. That is why we succeeded last year because we had Weaver, Low, AND Rochestie leading us into March.


Big Wood said...

come check out my new coug hoops blog http://witchesofeastman.blogspot.com

We'll start updating much more regularly now that more games are viewable.

Anonymous said...

Jake, I just don't think that he has what it takes to win the big game. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think that is the case. Maybe he averaged more minutes, but he always played second fiddle to Lowe and Weaver in the back court. I think he is better than average, but not great.

This is, of course, my uneducated opinion. I only claim to be a casual Wazzu bball fan. Football will always occupy the #1 spot in my heart ;-)

Chris '04
Pullman, WA

Brinkhater said...


The hardest thing to do in basketball is create for oneself and get others involved at the same time.

Taylor does both well independently but isn't talented enough to do both consistently.

The problem for us is that we need to get people involved AND we need Taylor to score.

That is the reason why I harped last year for Weaver to assume more point guard duties so we could get Taylor off.

This year I'd like to see Capers be able to assume the same type of role.

Taylor is solid as a #2 on the wing and can get his shot off against most. Granted, he'll be exposed at time against the Collisons and Lawsons of the world. But last time I checked, he ate Pargo alive last year.

Michelle said...

Thanks BH, solid as usual. Klay is legit that's for sure. He just plays smart and has a nice shot.

Agree about Harmeling 100%.
Seems if he misses his first shot, it stays with him throughout.

Nick...looks a bit schizophrenic out there driving to the hoop...his shots seem to look more like hurls at the hoop than an actual shot attempt. But I've been a non-Nick Fan from day 1 for some reason

I'm still waiting for some offensive production from Casto...it's all there I'm sure but I'm still waiting for an Ivory-esque alley oop. Had a couple of nice blocks though, I'm looking forward to seeing him develop.

Baynes is the man, enough said.

Taylor just hit some bumps, I'm not worried. His little floater looks a bit off this year but his outside shooting looks about the same to me. Kyle and Derrick both had games last year where they scored like 4 points and they always bounced back. The turnovers...could just be he's not quite comfortable in the leadership role yet.

Not as insightful as you but just what I think...

I hate to say it but I'm missing my first home Cougar basketball game in 4 years this weekend :(

Go Cougs, I'll be watching in a bar downtown Seattle somewhere...

ptowncoug said...

Back for hoop season I am. Agree on the move of TR to #2. I think Harthun is going to push to play the one spot, he his quick.
I think Klay has to be more agressive with penetration. We need him scoring 20+ because I just don't see it coming from our 1and 4 spot.
Baylor will be an interesting test. They are Oregon of 2 seasons ago. Will play 4 guards and sit outside and shoot all day long. We need to board well.