FROM PULLMAN -- If Washington State struggles against Oregon's defensive pressure this afternoon, it won't be for lack of mental preparation. As DaVonte Lacy said yesterday, the Cougars know it's coming. Read on for more thoughts.
That's not rocket science, of course. The Ducks pressure just about everybody, and they went hard after WSU in their first meeting earlier this season. That was part of what allowed Oregon to erase the 10-point halftime deficit en route to a 68-61 win. And as Lacy said before Friday's practice, the Cougars know that what they showed against Oregon State -- and what they showed against the Ducks the first time around -- is only going to invite more aggression from opposing defenses. "I expect to see a lot more press," Lacy said. "It just means we’ve got to be ready for it. ... It’s just about focus and being solid with the ball. I had one bad turnover (against OSU) where I just threw it, I thought Brock (Motum) was going to get it and (Ahmad) Starks just grabbed it. I’ve just got to be mentally prepared, solid passes, solid ball fakes. Everything, just be solid." ... That goes for rebounding, too, another area negatively impacted by the absence of Mike Ladd, who is on the bench in street clothes and will miss his second consecutive game with a left knee injury. OSU grabbed 12 offensive boards on Wednesday, and a few of those were crucial, game-changing rebounds down the stretch that led to big baskets. WSU did a decent rebounding job against Oregon the first time around. The Ducks enjoyed a 37-33 edge, but the Cougars also missed a few more shots (and the offensive rebounding battle was nearly even, with WSU grabbing 12 and Oregon taking 11). And, of course, Ladd had eight rebounds in that game, four of them offensive. Without him, keeping players like Arsalan Kazemi, E.J. Singler (he never does much against WSU, does he?) and Tony Woods off the glass will be a chore. "Our way is to show video and to make sure guys are aware that you’ve got a huge challenge ahead of you," coach Ken Bone said. "Because this is a great rebounding team and they’re playing very aggressive." ... WSU isn't the only team missing a starting guard. Oregon's freshman point guard, Dominic Artis, remains sidelined by a foot injury. Without him, Bone said, the Ducks' halfcourt offense seems to rely a little more on making passes than on creating off the dribble, which is what Artis does so well.
That's all for now. We'll be back afterward with our usual fare.