No matter how unfortunate the cliche, coach Bob Bender and the Washington Huskies are looking to steal one on the road.
That means they can’t be preoccupied with the unsettled status of Washington State junior forward Carlos Daniel, who may not be on the Friel Court floor when the Huskies and Cougars tip off today at noon.
“You prepare as if he’ll be in the lineup,” Bender said Friday morning. “We certainly have already done that. Should he not be in the lineup and not play, then we can address that much easier (at game time).”
With 2-2 records in the Pacific-10 Conference, UW and WSU are fighting to stay in the middle tier. The formula for moving up is simple.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself at home and then, where can you steal one on the road?” Bender said. “You’ve got Stanford with two wins on the road already - that certainly puts them in the driver’s seat.”
WSU has won three straight against Washington in Pullman. A fourth consecutive victory would seem less likely if Daniel, arrested Thursday night and charged with shoplifting, is held out of the WSU lineup.
The Cougars have come to depend on Daniel’s 13.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, in addition to his skills as a shot-swatting defender. Without him, the burden falls more squarely upon senior guard Isaac Fontaine, whose 20.6-point average distinguishes him as WSU’s only other double-figure scorer.
Even if Daniel plays - he didn’t practice Friday - there figure to be more minutes for role players like Beau Archibald, Cameron Johnson, Tavares Mack and Chris Crosby.
Washington’s offense goes through junior Mark Sanford, a 6-9 forward averaging 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. WSU spent most of its preparation time devising ways to disrupt Sanford, even if 7-footer Todd MacCullough (15.6, 7.1) has proven at least as effective in the clutch.
Guard Jamie Booker (12.3, 4.8) is also a threat.
“I think we’re starting to develop, instead of maybe a go-to guy, a go-to mentality,” Bender said. “Understanding that we’re always going to give the first look to Mark - if we get him open he’s not afraid to take the big shot - but he’s also becoming a very good passer.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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