Saturday, January 31, 2009

Big Game

Happy superbowl weekend to you, Cougar Nation! Hope you had a great week.

Well today, we play the no-longer-Mildcats.

After playing like also-rans for much of the first half of the Pac-10 slate, Arizona now has the look of the team that I predicted to win the conference (COUGH! COUGH!)

When you turn on the game today, you are going to hear the announcers talk about a couple of key head-to-head match-ups. They are:

1. Baynes v. Hill

2. Rochestie v Wise

3. Budinger v. Thompson

While those match-ups are certainly important, they really do not reflect what this game is really about:

BALL PRESSURE. (insert your 3rd grade joke here)

As we have seen all year, we don't respond well to ball pressure. And, Arizona presses all the fricking time. So, how we handle that pressure is the real key to the game.

So, with that all in mind, here are a few things to watch for:

1) AZ's field goal percentage. To press, you have to make shots. If you don't make shots, you can't press. Watch how well AZ shoots early, it will be a key to the tempo of the game. The cut-off is about 41%. They shoot better than that, they win. They shoot less than that and its a ball game.

2) AZ's journey to the charity stripe. The more they go to the line, the more they press. They don't go to the line, no press. To keep that number down, we need to limit transition opportunities and protect Wise from getting into the paint.

3) How we react after beating the first wave of pressure. And obvious tendency of breaking the first wave of the press is to attack the basket. We need to do that today, but we also need to be selective in how and WHEN we attack. Teams that press usually do so to hurry up the game. So patience will be a huge virtue for us. So, when we attack the rim it needs to be later in the shot clock.

4) Youth, youth, youth. With few exceptions, ALL of our big W's have come with major contributions from our freshmen. To win today, Capers and Casto need to get many more minutes than Daven, Nick, and the rest.

5) Caleb. We need him to step up big today with that midrange game. He plays well (scores in 12-15 point range) and we win today.

Prediction: As I said last week, I like the way we match up with Devils. I HATE our match-up with AZ.

Arizona 65 WSU 53
But if I'm wrong, we are EXACTLY where we were at the end of the first half last year. This would be a MASSIVE win and sweep.



Nuss said...

Man, were you right. I honestly thought we had a reached a point in our maturity that we could cope with that kind of pressure, but that's obviously not the case.

The freshmen couldn't deal, and the upperclassmen just lack athletic ability, which in turn cripples our ability to dictate the game on defense. Just a bad, bad style for us to have to combat all around. Someday -- probably next year, for sure the year after that -- we will destroy teams that try to do this to us. For now, it's the blueprint for an opponent win.

At this point, teams that can press will beat us, and those that don't we'll have an excellent chance to beat. Good thing there are only two teams in the Pac-10 who can do this.

Sedihawk said...

BH did nail it. And you are both right re: pressure. That and AZ hitting those key 3's and all those FT's. That 26-4 run was tough to watch.

Oh well, to be 4-5 after going 1-4 at home isn't all bad. Go 5-4 in the 2nd half, get to 9-9 and win a couple of P-10 tourney games and you are on the bubble. But right now I just want postseason play for the youngsters.

CW said...

Wow should replace those d-bags that we have to listen to each week on FSN. Good call.

Longball said...

Its scary when your team has such a prominent Achilles's heal. After watching us wilt under Gonzaga's press I thought the rest of the teams we played would surely follow suit. Usually I love when teams try to press because once you get the D all spread out a few good ball handlers can carve them up for easy buckets. Nothing demoralizes a team like spending all the energy on full court pressure just to give up easy bucket after easy bucket. I gotta think we have a better ball handling lineup than the ones we have used against pressure so far.

brinkhaterhater said...

I don't know what's more shocking. The meltdown our team had Saturday, or that Brinkhater actually got something right about Cougar basketball.