Before we get into our thoughts about the Arizona game, we wanted to pass on the news WSU’s women’s team won its first Pac-10 game of the season today, defeating ASU 66-62 behind April Cook’s career-high 33 points. You can read more here. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post. Both teams are on Friel Court getting some shooting in. And we’ve got some thoughts, so read on.
• As I look back at WSU’s 78-76 win over the Wildcats in Tucson, I’m struck by how well the Cougars started. If you don’t remember, Washington State broke out to a 18-8 lead with seven different guys scoring. That might have been the Cougars best start this season against a decent team. Of course, the game was tied at half, Arizona had a six-point lead early in the second and WSU blew a late seven-point edge at the end, only to win on DeAngelo Casto’s last-tenth-of-second layin. … Casto had 16 points in that game, his most in a Pac-10 game and the last time he’s scored in double figures. His performance that day also contributed to the struggles of freshman big Derrick Williams, who fouled out after scoring 13 points, and wasn’t there to defend the basket on the final play. … Williams is one of the frontrunners for the conference’s freshman of the year award, averaging 15.3 points a game and holder of the most interesting statistic in the Pac-10. When Pac-10 play began, Williams was shooting 62.8 percent from the free-throw line. He’s shooting 81.1 percent in conference. I’ve never seen improvement like that. … So how does WSU repeat the Tucson performance? Basically by repeating the Tucson performance. In that game the Cougars dominated the boards, with Casto, Klay Thompson and Nik Koprivica grabbing 9, 8 and 7, respectively. That led to a 35-26 edge, built in large part on 12 offensive rebounds – half by Casto. … Another key element in Arizona was Reggie Moore’s ability to bounce it to the rim. Though the freshman had six turnovers, he consistently got into the paint as UA’s help was either slow or non-existent. When it did come, there was no help for the helper, leading to Casto’s offensive rebound numbers. … Marcus Capers also stayed out of foul trouble and made Nic Wise work for every one of his 15 points. That needs to happen again. … Finally, Thompson shot well (7 of 15 from the floor) though UA did a good job of forcing him to bounce it and not spot up from the arc (he was 2 of 4). … One thing I’m watching today is the Casto battle with Williams. If either gets in early foul trouble, their team is in a bad spot. Neither team has a player the same caliber coming off the bench. … By the way, I wanted to share this Pac-10 nightmare with you. Actually, it would be kind of funny.
• That’s it for now. We’ll back at halftime so you can comment. Until then …