FROM PULLMAN — Students are filing in — just how many, well, that remains to be seen — and we're a little more than an hour away from tipoff between Washington State and Washington. We have some thoughts and notes to pass along. Read on.
As of Wednesday, the attendance estimated by WSU for this game was 8,500, though that number assumes a full student section of 4,000. With classes not starting until Monday and many students still out of town for Christmas break, I'm not sure they'll reach that number. But as I write this, there is quite obviously a larger number of students here already than there was for most of the Cougars' home games this season — all but the Gonzaga game, really — so maybe it'll fill up to a respectable number by the time this thing tips off. … Que Johnson was shooting baskets earlier in his sweats, as he usually does before games, when UW coach Lorenzo Romar walked onto the court. Johnson walked over to Romar and the two conversed for a few minutes. Washington, if you'll remember, was one of Johnson's finalists before he chose the Cougars. … Dexter Kernich-Drew and Bryce Leavitt are both suited up and moving around fine, so I'd assume both will be available today as expected. … If I had to identify one priority for each team today, I'd do it thusly: WSU needs to prevent the Huskies from executing their high-post offense with any kind of regularity, and UW needs to find ways to get C.J. Wilcox some early open looks in order to shake his 2-for-12 outing against Connecticut last week. I'm also interested to see how the Huskies go about guarding Brock Motum. UW center Aziz N'Diaye is a fine interior defender, but I'm not sure he's well-suited to also chase Motum around the perimeter. Some of Ken Bone's better in-game coaching jobs have come against Washington in recent years. The tit-fot-tat involving Motum tonight, as it is most nights, will be key. WSU hasn't played many teams with enough athleticism to get particularly creative with their defense against Motum.