You would think a split in the desert would have made the Washington State basketball team happy. You would be wrong. “We’re in a position where you can’t split anymore,” senior Daven Harmeling said. “We’ve dug ourself such a big hole, splits on the road it’s not good enough. It’s the kind of stuff that will let us have a spring break instead of playing postseason basketball. We don’t want that.” For more from Arizona, including all the links, read on.
• The upset of Arizona State faded in a sea of turnovers Saturday afternoon, with WSU throwing away – almost literally – a chance for another road sweep and an opportunity to be come relevant in the Pac-10 race. Now the Cougars must regroup and make some noise in the second half of the conference season if they, like Harmeling said, don’t want to spend spring break in Pullman. We’ll start our morning-after post with links, first to our story, which appeared with some more content on this site. Freelancer Howie Stalwick had coverage in the Olympian and other papers, while you can read the Associated Press story here. Otherwise, you can read more, including the Arizona Daily Star gamer from Bruce Pascoe, a column from Greg Hansen and Steve Rivera’s Tucson Citizen story.
• Around the conference, the Huskies bounced back with a win at ASU, riding Justin Dentmon’s career-high 30 points. … Oregon State is on a roll, and the Beavers rolled over Oregon. … USC handed Cal another road defeat and still thinks it has a shot at the conference title. … UCLA would beg to differ after routing Stanford. … Finally, a couple of Pac-10 roundups, first from Nick Daschel at Buster Sports and this one from the Oregonian.
• Our last item, or items if you will, are comments from those involved with the WSU loss yesterday.
Bennett on the meltdown: “We put the ball in spots we probably shouldn’t have. They trapped us in the corner, sideline. If we just could have handled the trap and got it out, then you’re 3-on-2, 2-on-1 but we couldn’t.”
More on the stretch: “I was disappointed we got rattled like that. We work on sureness with the ball, we work on trapping and against pressure.”
What the offensive woes do on the other end: “That puts more pressure on your defense, plays on your psyche. I didn’t feel like we were out of the game, if we could just handle their pressure, we’re going to get a clean look. … We couldn’t do that, for whatever reason. Whether it was stepping out of bounds or getting down in the corners and picking up our dribbles.”
Rochestie on the meltdown: “It was us. They’re a good team. They’re long, athletic, they’re active. The same press, same style of press, first and second half, they switched it up, but we were knew what they were going to do coming into the game, it’s up to us to execute and just get the ball to the right people and attack them. We’ve got to make a team pay for pressing. We didn’t do that.”
The loss itself: “We kind of let this one slip away.”
What WSU needs to do in the second half of the Pac-10: “We have to continue learning. … Once we start having these big lapses, where the defense starts giving up easy shots, or offense is missing shots, we can’t let teams go on those big runs.”
Arizona’s reputation: “They’re a second-half team. You saw their explosion against UW. We know they’re very capable. In the first half had a little glimpse of it, they went on a run, we know how fiery they can get. Last year when we came in here they went on a big run on us.”
More on the meltdown: “If we’re turning the ball over, which we shouldn’t be, or we’re missing shots, we still have to get back and get stops. That’s what we weren’t doing.”
Harmeling on the meltdown: “They cranked up the heat defensively with their pressure, and instead of attacking it we just kind of cowered down and were loose with the ball. There’s a big difference between being poised and attacking and being scared and turning the ball over. That ultimately killed us.”
His shooting: “Wanted to be aggressive (today), I was more confident. Still, shots that feel good are just not going in. Worked hard, tried changing things, for the life of me I don’t know why they’re not going in.”
Arizona: “They’re a really explosive team, especially in the second half. We knew that, so the way we just kind of spoon fed them with stepping out of bounds and handing them the ball, is disappointing.”
The Wildcats run and dealing with their pressure: “We feel like a lot of those mistakes were in our control and we just lost it. Gave it away. … We’re college basketball players; we’re 20-something years old. If you can’t handle, you know you’ve been trapped since you were 6-years-old. They were good at it, but at the same time it’s not like … we didn’t know they were going to trap us.”
Guarding Budinger, who was 1 of 14 before the run: “With a guy like that, even when I’m at my best, I’m still kind of at his mercy, whether or not he’s going to make his shots. Thankfully for me and us, he was off a little bit tonight.”
On Rochestie scoring every WSU point in most of the second half: “It would be one thing if he was talking all the shots, but I know for a fact he wasn’t taking all the shots. That’s a sign something’s wrong.”
Baynes on not touching the ball in the UA run: “It was tough. I have to find a way to help our guys out in that situation. Arizona put pressure on them and we have to find a way to get the ball across half-court for them. It’s tough.”
Guarding Jordan Hill: “They’ve gone to him every game. They try to pound the ball into him every game. … I didn’t want to have to trap him, because our guys had enough pressure on them.”
• That’s it for today. We’ll be back if any news breaks. Otherwise, I’ll be in Pullman tomorrow as we get closer to football signing day. We should have something for you on that. Till then …