Sunday, January 11, 2009

BIG Win



Fantastic, gut-it-out victory by our young men last night. While last night's victory was not a season SAVING win (that will be determined this week), it certainly was a season CONTINUING win.

Lose this game, and it is REALLY hard to find a way to get close to that .500 mark needed for post-season action of any sort. But, with the win last night, we find ourselves two games back of the conference lead and one back of second (or third) place after a tough first week plus of upper division talent.

For this win to mean anything, however, we need to sweep the Oregon schools this weekend. If we do, we'll not only get over .500, we'll also even up our home-road W-L differential(+2 on road, -2 at home).

Meanwhile, here are my thoughts about the keys to last night's victory:



1) Casto, Casto, Casto. We've been talking about the potential impact and promise of this kid for weeks now. He was great in the LSU game but then didn't play the second half. Ditto the UW game. He was okay in the CAL game, but then BRILLIANT last night. We are SO MUCH better both offensively and defensively with him and Baynes in the game at the same time. Lets hope we see him start from here on out.

2) Line-up, line-up, line-up. At the end of the game last night, we had Baynes and Casto in the post and a three guard line up of Lodwick, Taylor, and Thompson. While Abe



was only 1-3 from three point land from my count, the one he made was a HUGE tie-up basket after coming in dead cold. While he missed the next two, his shot was high and soft. More importantly, he gave up NOTHING on the defensive end. As a result, we not only were better underneath defensively with that line-up (which won us the game), we also were better offensively with two low post scoring threats AND three shooters. This line-up folks, if used and further developed over the next week, can win games in this league.

3) Athleticism. This is a part of the previous note, but for the first time in a while, we looked athletic. And boy is that important when you start playing Major Conference basketball. For us to compete, we have to replace the athleticism lost from Weaver and to a certain extent Low. We did that last night.

4) Cross-Zone dribble penetration. One of the ways you can think about examining an offense is to split the half court vertically into thirds. So, if you start at one side of the court and dribble laterally to the other side of the court, you would travel through all three zones. Last night was the first time that MOST of our ball handlers consistently moved the ball across at least two (if not three) zones with their dribble. And boy was there space as a result.

What makes that type of movement work is when there is balanced scoring threats on both sides of the court. With our finishing line up, that balance was there. We looked GREAT!

5) Coaching and Belief. As we all should notice by now, CAL is for real. And, the way that we attacked CAL in spurts on Thursday was an indication that the team was still pushing and believing. Last night, Casto remarked after the ballgame about how the players come to WSU because they believe in Tony and his system. Well, what last night showed again is that Tony's "system" not only involves consistently sound defense, it also includes a willingness to significantly adjust his offensive philosophy and personnel.

The key now, in my view, is to make the line-up switch to how we finished last night, bringing Forrest, Nick, Harmeling, and Capers off the bench--which brings you veteran savy off the bench when you need to "hold" games and maker energy plays. If Abe and to a certain extent Thompson can find a three point shooting touch the next couple of weeks, our previous talk of an NCAA birth--which looked LUDICROUS just a few days ago--might once again be in the cards.

Hope your week gets off to a good start.

3 comments:

TiltingRight said...

Another thing I noticed on offense is that Taylor was playing off the ball more, allowing him to run screens and otherwise act as a 2nd option, which he's better at than as a 1 who has to score.

I still think the other guards need to learn to run screens better.

BH said...

ditto, ditto, ditto.

But Taylor's play off the ball was facilitated by the play of the other guards who moved the defense by playing more aggressively off the dribble--even if it was horizontal movement and not AT the rack per se.

Good take, Tilting. Good take.

TiltingRight said...

Aggressively off the dribble, for sure, and going to the basket. I don't think I remember us being at the stripe as much in any other game this year.

Keep it up, boys. Sweep the Ducks and Beavs. We might still be in this one.