Consistent readers of my part of this blog during basketball season know I'm a pretty big fan of defense. And, if you've been reading a while, you now I've never felt how many points a team yields offers a clear picture of how a team plays defense. I'm more into field goal percentage defense among the mainstream statistics. Which is why I believe I have an inkling how today's game will go. Read on.
• I've been observing college basketball a long time, back to UCLA's dynasty if you must know. And one constant during all those years has been the ability of good defensive teams to force tough shots under pressure. And that usually leads to a poor shooting percentage. Sure, teams that force lots of turnovers can skew percentages. And if you can't rebound, forcing a poor shooting percentage doesn't help as much either. But teams that give up a lot of second shots, or give up transition looks, usually don't end up limiting their opponents' shooting percentages. Second shots and fastbreak layups are usually shot at a real high percentage. ... All that is preamble for a statistic I'm about to point out. In Pac-10 games – and yes, it's early, so stats aren't as meaningful – Stanfords' opponents are shooting 51.1 percent. And WSU's? Almost as much, 47.7 percent. Which gives us a clue today could be a high scoring game, especially if WSU can impose its offensive tempo on the game. ... How the shooting percentage defense numbers have been built is interesting as well. The Cardinal gives up more offensive rebounds than any team in the conference, almost 40 percent of their opponents' shot result in an offensive rebound. That leads to easier shots. WSU, on the other hand, does an OK job on the glass, but gives up too many transition looks, something that was exploited Thursday night by Cal. Luckily for the Cougars today, Stanford isn't a team that consistently wants to blister down the court. The Cardinal are happier breaking you down in the half court. ... So what type of game will we see? What do you bet it finishes 68-60 or something like that, exposing my inability to figure out this season. No, it should be a game in the 80s. Or, I guess I should say, it would suit WSU better if it ends up there.
• That's it for now. We'll be back at halftime with more, of course. Until then ...