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WSU vs. UW, pregame

COUGARS

Welcome to Hec ... er, Bank of Amer ... er, Alaska Airlines Arena. Better call it by its real name. I'm flying the airline back to Spokane tomorrow. Before then, however, there is this little matter of a basketball game. For some thoughts, read on.

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• You know the Dawg Pack is going to give Reggie Moore crap about his pot bust and Klay Thompson his misplaced iPod. But really, how many of the folks in the student section have abstained from doing what Moore is accused of doing? Or have never been late for class because they misplaced something? Would it be hypocritical of them to take the two to task for those actions? Sure, but when hasn't that been a part of college rooting sections? Heck, there were guys I used to call ugly and that certainly is hypocritical – or projecting, I don't know which. Anyhow, I see a "puff, puff, pass" sign and others of the same ilk that I can't make out. Wonder if it will work and they'll lose their focus. We'll see. ... Whatever, I don't believe it will be the most important aspect of tonight's game. I would rate rebounding, ball security, foul trouble, shooting and even how the game is called well above the chants from the stands. It's the team on the floor Washington State has to worry about and that team is damn talented, maybe the most talented one through eight in the conference. And they are even better here. The Huskies do feed off the energy of the Hec Ed crowd, so keep an eye out for momentum plays, things like slams and blocks that get the crowd revved up. If Washington has a few of those, it might be lights out. ... The overarching question, however, is which WSU team will show up. Will it be the Gonzaga, UW, Arizona group or the Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State group? If it's the latter, the term boat race comes to mind. ... OK, what are the keys? In no particular order ... The WSU bigs have to keep their Husky counterparts off the offensive glass, or there will be foul trouble inside. ... When in their zone, the Cougars have to keep Isaiah Thomas out of the middle of the key. He bounced it in there way too often in Pullman. ... Washington State has to take care of the ball. Remember the second half here last year when UW scored 56 points? Many of those were fueled by Cougar turnovers. ... Over in Pullman the Huskies turned it over and shot poorly, taking way too many contested 3-pointers. I expect Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye to touch the ball a lot tonight. If they take over inside, WSU is in trouble. ... And, finally, the Cougars have to shoot well. When they are clicking on offense, their defense is better. There is more energy when the shots are falling. So the first few minutes may be key. Shoot well early and they may just compete done to the wire.

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• That's it for now. We'll be on Twitter during the game and put up a short halftime post. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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