COUGARS • UPDATED: 12:20 P.M.
Student sections pride themselves on being able to get into the head of the opponents. The UW group is no different. Marcus Capers told me some of the antics the group did last season and how it made him laugh. But one of the pranks this year wasn't funny. Read on for that and our look at the game.
• UPDATE: Klay Thompson won't be starting today. He was late for a team activity yesterday and will be benched as per team rules. Xavier Thames will replace the Pac-10's leading scorer in the lineup. Nik Koprivica is also replacing Abe Lodwick, though that is a coaching decision, not due to discipline.
• The Internet has made it easier for these student sections to disseminate information about the upcoming opponents. For example, the UW group put up a post this week with names of girlfriends of WSU players and the players' purported phone numbers. Problem is, as far as I know, the numbers posted for a couple of the WSU players were wrong. Which makes me wonder about the rest of the information. Plus, if the numbers were for other people, I wonder how those folks took getting a lot of phone calls? ... Enough of the periphery junk. Now to hoops. And a bold statement. This will be the toughest road game of the Pac-10 season for WSU. That's not to say the Cougars can't win, they can, but to do it, it will take their best effort of the season. When focused, UW is probably the best team in the conference. And there is no chance the Huskies won't be focused today. This is a rivalry game, after all, on their home court where they believe they are invincible. That's a huge advantage. ... So what must WSU do? Let's break it down to three things, though that's way too simple. ... Take care of the ball and take advantage of UW's pressure. The Huskies try to disrupt your offense with some token full-court pressure before applying get-in-your-face on-ball defense out front. The full-court man shouldn't be a big deal because WSU has too many ball handlers at the 4. But the ball pressure and denial out front could be problematic. The Cougars have to know when to cut back door and do it full speed. If they do, they can take advantage of a UW strength and possible force the Huskies to back off a little. ... Contain Quincy Pondexter. It would be too much to hope that Pondexter will have a USC game (two points on 1-10 shooting) but if he scores 25 or more the Cougars are in trouble. Look for Nik Koprivica and Abe Lodwick to focus solely on Pondexter, with an emphasis on keeping him off the offensive glass. ... Klay Thompson. Simple. If can get shots despite Justin Holliday's defense, and those shots go in at a decent pace, then WSU's chances increase immeasurably. But that one is pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? But it is important.
• That's all for now. We'll be back with a halftime post, and we could have an update just before game time if we see anything interesting. Until then ...