If you watch Aron Baynes works on his right-handed jump hooks on one end and Caleb Forrest and Charlie Enquist their 15-footers on the other, as I am right now, you would understand how WSU will be attacking Oregon State this afternoon. For more on the Pac-10 matchup, read on.
• Down in Corvallis, the Cougars had to overcome a nine-point second-half deficit to win in overtime, a deficit built more by poor-decision making offensively than anything else. WSU had 17 turnovers in the game, four each by Taylor Rochestie and Klay Thompson. The mistakes were caused by OSU’s 1-3-1 trap in the first half and the Beavers 2-3 matchup in the second, a defense Craig Robinson stuck with even as the Cougars were rallying back.
And that brings up a point about that win. The Cougars couldn’t have pulled the comeback out of their hat if the Beavers hadn’t helped. As former GU coach Dan Fitzgerald used to say every day, play hard and play smart. The Beavers did the first part of that saying, but the latter? No way, especially down the stretch. There’s a key basketball phrase, time and score, meaning you have to be aware of both. And the Beavers weren’t. Shots taken in the first half may not be great ones with a lead late in the game, but they were still taking them. And the Cougars said thanks, and won in overtime.
• If WSU plays like it did Thursday night, it won’t matter. That Cougar team is better than Oregon State and will win easily. But let’s see if that team shows up in back-to-back games. The defensive end will be tested by the OSU offense, which, like the Cougars’, tries to break you down with patience and execution. It’s an offense, however, that should have trouble against the pack – “We don’t get back door here,” I heard more than once yesterday at practice – if WSU is playing it well.
And if WSU is smart offensively, Baynes and Forrest should be tough to stop, no matter which defense the Beavers decide to use. In the first game, Baynes had 17 points on just seven shots. Expect the Cougars to try to get him that many or more today. And, as the Beavers swarm him, expect Forrest to have good looks from 10 to 15 feet. Make them, and WSU’s offense will click. But first WSU has to handle OSU’s pressure out front, something that has been hit-and-miss most of the season. It’s another one of those risk-reward situations. OSU’s risks leaving the basket exposed for the reward of a turnover. WSU risks losing the ball for the reward of an easy bucket. Such is the chess game that is college basketball.
• A couple of links for you before we sign off, both of the football variety. WSU released some comments from coach Paul Wulff this afternoon, clarifying a few of his statements from the other night concerning the EWU situation. Also, ESPN.com’s Ted Miller had this post about Marshall Lobbestael. I’ve seen Lobbestael around town and, yes, he’s still limping and, yes, his spring status is going to be limited. But he’s upbeat and will do what his knee will allow.
• That’s all for now. We’ll be back at halftime with . Till then …