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Pac-10 tips off for WSU, Oregon


COUGARS

It's time for our pregame post, Pac-10 style. Got to love conference basketball. It gets so intense. Except, maybe, when the students are out for winter break, as is the case here. For pregame notes, read on.
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• If you have some time, let me know what you think the crowd will be. My guess: an announced crowd of 6,997. But I don't believe there will be that many folks in Beasley Coliseum. We're waiting to see if there is a home court advantage. ... Joevan Catron won't be playing today. He's sitting on the Oregon bench in street clothes, headphones in the ears. His minutes have been going to freshman E.J. Singler, brother of Duke's Kyle, former high school teammate of WSU's Michael Harthun, and the object of the Cougars' recruitment for a while. The 6-6 Singler, who former WSU coach Tony Bennett ultimately decided was too short to play the 4 in the Pac-10 and not quick enough for the 3, is starting inside and averaging 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds. ... He, Tajuan Porter and Malcom Armstead were all on the court almost 2 hours before game time, working on offensive moves. ... The one area Catron helps the Ducks is the offensive glass. Without him, they aren't as good a rebounding team. ... Porter has had some explosive offensive games in his four years as a Duck. But more often, especially when he was trying to play the point, his wild shooting has cost Oregon. If he goes off early, watch out. Coming off the bench now, Porter was 5 of 7 from beyond the arc in the Ducks' last nonconference game. In the three games he played before that – he was in and out of the lineup with an ankle sprain – he was 0 for 8. That's what you get from the 5-foot-7 shooter. He's 19 of 51 for the season, 37.3 percent. ... The matchups early should be interesting. DeAngelo Casto should have Michael Dunigan. Casto's quickness and strength should give Dunigan trouble. Abe Lodwick and Singler should square off in the battle of Oregon high school products. Klay Thompson and freshman Jamil Wilson should be interesting, as Wilson has the height (6-7) and quickness to stay with Thompson. But he's not real physical, and the Ducks might just play LeKendric Longmire a little more today (he hasn't played more than 7 minutes the last three games) to supply that physical nature. We'll see. Out front, Marcus Capers will try to use his length to harass Armstead while Reggie Moore gets Garrett Sims – if the UO starting lineup stays the same. ... The key for the Cougars defensively in the halfcourt will probably be how well they defend the ball screen. In the old days (a couple years ago) the Ducks would set it to get a pick-and-pop. Now they use it to get a guard a path to the rim, especially on the wings. ... It's also crucial for WSU to play transition defense. The Ducks love to shoot the 3 in transition, launching from well outside the arc at times. ... Offensively, WSU should get good shots. If the Cougars shoot well, they should be OK. After having not played in nine days, it's probably a good thing WSU is playing at home.

• That's it for now. We'll be back at halftime so you have a spot to comment. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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