Happy Thursday to you, Cougar Nation.
Hope you're having a good week.
This morning I opened up the old fishwrap to find that our Cougies are listed as a two-point favorite for tonight's tilt against the Mildcats.
So with that line in mind, its time to go to Vegas.
You know, I don't have the time or inclination to check out the official stat, but since 1982 we've beaten Arizona about 4 times.
And unfortunately for us, Number 5 will NOT come tonight.
Arizona comes in among the hottest teams in the country. Moreover, like CAL early in the year, the Mildcats are shooting about 51% from the field in their last 8 games or so.
When you add their ability and tendency to supply endless ball pressure to their three point shooting, you get a recipe for what should be a very, very bad start to Seniors' week.
That all said, here are my keys to the game.
1) Keep Daven on the Bench.
Great stories this week about the character of Daven Harmeling. What a great kid! But, for us to win tonight, he can't play. Instead, we need a healthy, healthy dose of Marcus Capers.
Capers is going to need to get out of the trap on the sideline better than he did against AZ in Tuscon. He also needs to guard Chase Budinger so Klay has some legs on the offensive end. Marcus also needs to take the ball to the rack when he breaks the first line of pressure.
All in all, its a lot to ask of the kid, but to win, he has to come through.
2) Lots and Lots and Lots of Casto.
As long as AZ presses, we need Casto in the game. The good thing about a press is that, if you break it, you have 2 on 1s and 3 on 2s all day long. But, because AZ has Jordan Hill patrolling the basket during the press, you need guys that can dunk on him. Casto may miss his free throws tonight, but getting Hill in foul trouble is a big part of both breaking the press AND getting Baynes off when they go to zone.
3) Play the same tempo offensively as we did against UCLA.
We played AWFULLY fast last Saturday. In fact, because of the fast tempo, I thought for sure we were going to get blown in the second half against the Bruins. But, because we have so many rhythm shooters, the fast pace actually helps Klay and Taylor find their strokes--especially against teams that force the action. So, we need to play just as fast today as we did last Saturday.
We need to attack that press and get layups, dunks, and fouls. If we do that, we will establish an offensive identity that will propel us throughout the game. If we play conservative, we'll be rushing shots late in the shot clock and that will spell a blow-out--probably in the second half.
4) Taylor and Klay from 3.
IF and when we break the press, AZ will shift to a tight 2-3 zone like they did against ASU. Taylor and Klay will then need to hit shots from deep to open the game up.
5) Don't give up threes.
Let Budinger get his 23. Let wise get his 20. But make them get ALL of them from inside that darn arc. If they beat us with a mid-range game, so be it. But we can not weather a barrage of threes.
Do all those things and we win.
Again, it's just too tall an order in my book. Remember, this group swept us last year too. Take all the money that you have in the world and put it on Arizona.
AZ 64 WSU 51
But if I am wrong, you all can start to really stoke the talk about our postseason chances.
Lets go Cougs. Lets go Seniors.