(Well, at least where basketball is concerned, we know about Football).
Greetings Cougar Nation, welcome to Apple Cup time, basketball style.
Its pretty darn hard to predict this game because by the time that game time nears, I am so fired up about beating the Defeateds that it is pretty hard to come up with anything but a MASSIVE Cougar Victory.
Unfortunately, today I am going against my burning urge to declare victory, and will predict a temporary end to our World Class Domination of our non-friends to the West:
That said, if we DO win today, here are some ways that we will do it:
1) Protect the Ball.
This obviously goes without saying, but Washington is long and athletic. This will matter in two ways: 1) If we allow them to get out in transition. 2) If we try to shoot over them--which will get them out in transition. So, protecting the ball means doing just that when their defense extends, but it also means taking that mid-range jumper like we did in spurts last week. Those shots will be open, so if we win, expect 15-18 from Thompson and another dozen or so from Forrest.
2) Make them shoot Free-Throws.
Granted, the last thing we need is for Forrest and Baynes to pick up 4 fouls in the first two minutes like last week, but this would be a good week to hack a little especially against Brockman--as well as any time that they get out in transition. If you make UW shoot over the top and not give up layups they'll shoot themselves out of the game.
3) Establish Baynes and Hold Your Breath.
Baynes is either going to be an aggressor early or he'll be trying to "not pick up" fouls after the first two minutes. So, when he gets the ball early on the left block and barges into the lane for the right handed hook, hold your breath that it goes in and that they do NOT call him for a charge.
4) Coaching of Freshman.
Both Thompson and Thomas have shown flashes of brilliance in their early freshman campaigns. My sense is that one of them is going to go off today while one will disappear. Both teams have the ability to completely throw off these two kids today, so it will be interesting to see which kids are the most coached up. Thompson in particular is going to be pressed, so it will be VERY important for him to come closely off of those ball screens and to establish that mid-range game EARLY.
I'm thinking that we still won't get it yet on O in order to keep them out of transition. I think we're going to see too much Nick and not enough Casto--who needs to play about 20 minutes today. And I am not convinced that Taylor believes others on this team can get it done. Until that trust is there, we won't win. And, yes, I think we'll see a lot of Casper and not much Daven.
UW 67 WSU 54.
Let me be WRONG. Let me be WRONG.
Back at Gametime.
15:40 1st. 4-2 Good Guys. I know its only a few minutes into the game, but you can see that if we don't turn the ball over, the Dawgs just don't match-up. Taylor is doing a nice job of taking it at Thomas, but it is simply MIND BOGGLING that Baynes has touched the ball ONCE on the block (and of course, he scored in spite of the double team). Meanwhile, there is NO WAY that Dentmon can guard Klay. Make this the Klay-Baynes show and we'll run away with this one.
Casper CAN NOT play the three against this team. Bring in Casto.
3:00 1st 24-21 Dawgs. Are we playing at home or in Seattle? Damn, I thought that the days of having every single call go against us were over. Interesting game, Dentmon is hot as hell, and we are not. Yet, we're only down three in spite of playing a bunch of the kids as well as a five minutes stretch with a four forward line-up. Overall, I'm still puzzled by the lack of involvement with Baynes. So far, he has made ONE mistake off the double, but his production warrants us taking more chances with him.
Halftime. 30-28 Dawgs
Overall, they're playing well and we're really not. And yet, the score is near dead even. In the second half, I hope we establish Baynes (duh) and I hope we can get something going with Thompson on the block given his HUGE advantage in length. Best way to slow Dentmon down is to make him work on the defensive end and get him in foul trouble.
Also: Casto needs to be more assertive offensively. And he needs to be in the game for most of the second half. His presence on defense is desperately needed. As we had to learn last year, let the other team penetrate a bit more to minimize the WIDE OPEN kick-out three. If we have two bigs underneath, we can let that first penetration go a bit without so much help.
Does this feel like LSU all over again?
17:00 2nd. UW 37-30. This does feel JUST like LSU--but worse. Remember when I said earlier that one of the two frosh would star while the other would disappear? Well, Thomas is starring and Thompson is disappearing. This team is becoming increasingly frustrating to watch, we're slow moving the ball along the perimeter and VERY unsure of ourselves at both ends of the court. We are running out of time to learn on the fly.
11:00 46-38 Dawgs. Well, Taylor is picking it up a bit offensively, but overall we look over-matched. This team is ONE scorer short which is exacerbated by how little we use Baynes. The only recipe for getting back into this game is through the foul line. We need to start hacking a bit. Lets make them earn them the rest of the way.
7:28 51-41 Dawgs. We made it a five point game at 46-41 followed by a 5-0 run that makes the game out of hand. We got to the penalty with 10:00 left but have taken the ball to the rack once since. Our lack of ability to involve Baynes is still painful. Romar has seriously outcoached Bennett in this one.
4:45 55-43 Dawgs. Ballgame. Here comes Medina Booster. If anyone forgot what being lower division feels like, now we know.
Where's Casto? Why can't Baynes get the ball more often? Why are we not at the rack when we've been in the penalty for 7 minutes? Why can't we get Harmeling set up on the weakside perimeter baseline?
We're very confused and not very well coached right now. This will be an interesting test for T-bone and the Cougar program.
FINAL SCORE UW 68 WSU 48 UW finishes on a 22-7 run.
One word: OUCH!!!!!!!!!