Wednesday, March 11, 2009
UPDATE: 12:10PM UCLA QUICK PREVIEW
Greetings Cougar Nation. Quick post today because I am swamped. But here are a few thoughts and keys for tonight:
1) Capers, Capers, Capers.
Nick has been getting a lot of time lately because, in case you haven't noticed, we've moved toward making Taylor a distributing 2 guard. This shift has actually has given our offense a ton of flow since Taylor is allowed to attack from the elbow.
Nick has been a good fit for this set-up because he has largely handled the ball well against the opposing team's #3 and because he distributes into the post as well as anyone on our team.
BUT, one of the reasons why we have played UCLA well is because Marcus Capers has just eaten up Josh Shipp. I'm thinking that we need Capers to log heavy minutes tonight, but if its Nick, then he needs to continue to shut Shipp down. Simply put, if Shipp goes off, we lose no matter what anyone else does.
2) USC, USC, USC.
USC plays before us. Since the tourney is in LA, you can bet that AT LEAST 50% of the faithful will be Trojan fans--at least for that 6:00 game. USC wins that game and you can also bet that those fans will stick around to root AGAINST UCLA.
So, USC wins and all of a sudden, the game may have a much more neutral court flavor. And, as our legs get tired late in the game, every ounce of crowd and building energy that is directed positively toward us will help tremendously.
3) Backcourt Shooting
Contrary to what the pundits may say, we don't have to be 80ppg lights out like we were in Pauley. But, at the end of the game last night, neither Klay nor Taylor were in good rhythm. Tonight, they are going to have to combine for at least 28. Getting Klay off early would be really great.
4) Forrest-Casto, Forrest-Casto
For me, this game--and quite frankly all others in this tournament--depend on the offensive production we get from our 4 spot. When Forrest is hitting his jumper, we are a LEGIT #4-#5 seed NCAA team. When Casto and Forrest are playing well offensively in the same game, then we can beat anyone in the country.
But, when either of those two struggle--particularly Forrest--then we become extraordinarily average offensively.
So, look for Forrest to hit his shot early. If he does, then buckle up. If he doesn't, then we could be in real, real trouble.
5) Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick.
Not ours, theirs. You look at our previous two match-ups and the recipe is simple: Their Nick hits threes, they pull WAY ahead of us. Their Nick misses threes and we beat them.
So, its a combination of how Forrest does and how their Nick does that will decide much of the game.
Of course, the ultimate outcome will depend on who wins the battle of the clutch: Taylor or Collison?
Part of me feels like UCLA is going to run away with this one following an aggressive press early in both halves.
But the other thinks that UCLA's lack of interior play coupled with our match-up with Shipp will lead us to an upset.
WSU 64 UCLA 59
Enjoy (remember how Oregon looked yesterday? That's us next year, so ENJOY!!!)
Nice win tonight.
In winning, we sealed an NIT bid.
Now, its onto UCLA.
Tomorrow should be fun. We're playing with house money now.
Posted by The Coug-A-Sutra at 10:33 PM