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.
GO COUGS. WIN THIS GAME!!!!