The Washington Huskies walked onto Friel Court today and Beasley Coliseum was silent. Really. No boos, no catcalls, nothing. What a difference without a majority of the students. There are a few, about a couple hundred right by the court, but they didn't acknowledged UW's presence. I wonder what Jon Brockman must think of this. Three years of being booed taking the court and his senior year, nothing. Read on.
• The last couple years I've watched the UW-WSU basketball rivalry, the games seemed to be decided out front. Guys like Aron Baynes and Robbie Cowgill and Ivory Clark helped the Cougars earn at least a draw inside against Brockman and Spencer Hawes. Then Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Taylor Rochestie would outshine Ryan Appleby, Justin Dentmon or any other guard the Huskies put out there. Now the numbers might not reflect that in all cases, but it's true. Especially when the Huskies were on offense. The inability to run – in last year's two games, UW had two fast-break points – forced the Huskies to execute in the half court and their guards couldn't – in those two games, UW had 36 turnovers compared to WSU's 22, only seven in the 56-52 win in Seattle. In fact, in three of the five wins the past two years, WSU has had less than 10 turnovers.
So can this Cougar team execute in the same manner? The nonconference games would tell you no. They've wilted under pressure before, against Pitt in key situations. Against Gonzaga in the second half. At times vs. Baylor, against LSU, heck even against Portland State in a closed scrimmage (though you didn't hear that from me). A sea change has to occur today. For 40 minutes, or for most of those 40 minutes, WSU needs to play like it did for the first 11 minutes of the second half against LSU. Take care of the ball. Share it. Make hard, short passes. Take advantage of pressure. Then retreat and play the same type of defense its played all season. Only then will the Cougars leave the court this evening tied for first in the Pac-10. Anything else and they'll be one of five times looking up.
• We'll put up a quick halftime post, then we'll post again at the end of the game. Till then ...