Sun., Jan. 4, 2009
UW loss, the morning after
As I was looking back at the box scores from the past couple year's worth of WSU/UW basketball games yesterday, I was struck by how often Washington State had played 40 minutes of basketball against an aggressive, physical team without turning over the ball more than a handful of times.
In fact, in the past two years, the Cougars had more than 10 turnovers vs. the Huskies only in last year's double overtime game. Last night, WSU passed that mark midway through the second half. And defeat followed. Such has been the case throughout this season, and probably will be the rest of the year as well. If WSU takes care of the ball, is efficient on offense and shoots respectably, it will be in games. Fail on any one, it won't.
• So why am I harping so much on the offense? This is WSU isn't it? Well, it's because the defense is sound, despite UW's 60 points and 48 percent shooting. Sure, there are matchup problems at certain spots and will be throughout the Pac-10 slate, but Klay Thompson has grasped the Cougars' concepts, Aron Baynes and DeAngelo Casto have defended the rim to a degree it never was last season and the rest of the Cougars are, for the most part, playing solid. It's only when the offense becomes timid and inefficient the defense seems to break down. (As he articulated last night, Taylor Rochestie sees it the other way, but it's kind of the chicken-egg argument here. From our vantage point, the offensive end seems to be the key element this season.)
The one thing we haven't seen this year is someone coming off the bench and nailing a couple 3s in key situations (think Chris Matthews two years ago) to get the offense going. Such a lift would have been helpful a bunch of times this season. Last year, with Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver able to go off in bunches, it wasn't so critical. Now it is. I thought before the season started that guy would be Abe Lodwick. Maybe it still will be. Or maybe it's Mike Harthun (though that's a lot to ask of a true freshman). Or maybe all that's needed is taking the ball out of Rochestie's hands for a few minutes each game, let him run off screens and get open looks, like last season. We'll see.
• Enough of that. Let's get to the links. We had our game story, which you we're able to read here last night, and John Blanchette's column. From the West Side of the state, the Times had Bob Condotta's gamer (plus Bob had a bunch of stuff on his blog) and Steve Kelley's column. The News Tribune's Don Ruiz had a game story while freelancer Howie Stalwick had his gamer in the Kitsap Sun. There was also this game story by Dan Raley on the P-I's website, though I didn't see Dan at the game.
• There was another Cougar-Husky tussle yesterday, and UW won that one as well, extending its winning streak in the women's basketball rivalry to 27. The Times had this story while the New Tribune had this one.
• That's all for this morning. The remainder of the Pac-10 gets back to work this afternoon and evening, with the game of the day being Arizona State visiting Cal. If the Bears win, they'll come in to Pullman on Thursday night 2-0 in conference. Wouldn't that be interesting? Well, we'll be back later. Till then …