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Thoughts on the Baylor victory

Posted by Jeff Nusser on December 1, 2007

Since I didn’t see the game thanks to it being on ESPNU, and since ESPN’s treatment on SportsCenter last night of this near upset of a No. 6 team amounted to 15 seconds of highlights — you’d think the only two interesting plays of the game were Low’s two late 3’s — I can’t really bring much to the table in the way of first-person analysis. (Several readers did a fine job of that last night.)

But what I can do is look at the numbers and offer up some observations.

First of all, I don’t know what it is about this team and its crappy starts, but they better get it figured out. I understand the whole thing about opponents coming out fired up and riding adrenaline early, but that only explains half the problem — the Cougars simply are not playing well early in games. If they don’t shore it up, there will come a point where they will not be able to dig themselves out of a hole. In fact, they might not have last night if Jerrells hadn’t missed the end of the game.

What went wrong in the first half? Well, the turnovers, for one. Let me hit you with two stats. Heading into last night …

  • WSU was 11th in the country in turnover percentage (the percentage of possessions that end up in a turnover);
  • Taylor Rochestie had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.4, and Kyle Weaver had one of 2.2; and
  • As a team, WSU had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5.

Last night? Ten assists, 14 turnovers as a team. Rochestie had four assists and three turnovers, Weaver had two assists and three turnovers. Very uncharacteristic, so it gives you hope that it’s something that’s solvable.

What else happened last night that’s solvable? Well, Derrick Low was 3-0f-11 overall — that won’t happen very often. Also, the Cougs had no free throw attempts in the first half. Zero. I don’t know whether it was lack of aggression or some questionable refereeing, but WSU came into the game averaging more than 24 attempts per game. That obviously won’t happen very often, either. They went to the line 11 times in the second half, a big reason for the comeback.

Looking for positives to take out of this? Well, it’s undeniable that this team has a moxie that won’t allow it to get rattled. It’s one thing to come back against Boise State in front of 6,700 people at Taco Bell Arena, or against Air Force in front of 3,500 friendlies in Spokane. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to do it against a Big XII team on the rise in front of more than 10,000 hostiles. That says something.

In terms of individual performances, Robbie Cowgill’s was obviously positive, but I think we’re all smart enough fans to accept it for what it was — a pleasant surprise — and realize that’s not really a sustainable level of play for him. Looking for a positive performance that is sustainable? Look no further than Daven Harmeling.

Lost amid the great start and high ranking has been what a miserable time Harmeling has had shooting the ball. Coming into last night, he had made just 2 of 15 3’s, and was only 7 of 12 from the free throw line. The guy who twice was named Pac-10 player of the week last year was averaging 6.8 points. Last night? Two of 5 from beyond the arc, 4 of 4 from the line, 10 points — seven of them in the second half. This team absolutely needs him to get it going.

All in all, I probably share the same sentiment with all of you: A win, is a win, is a win, and it’s a great way to head into another incredibly hostile environment on Wednesday.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on the Baylor victory”

  1. Longball said

    I think its great to get a wake up call without also aborbing a loss. Hopefully the experience will carry over because we have some tough road games ahead fo sho. I wonder about the slow start phenomenon. Could it be the result of a team that is prepped for the game more cerberally (X’s and O’s) rather than having the proverbial fire lit under it with a sabre rattling pre game speach? Perhaps the first half fire will burn a bit hotter when we get to some of the old familliar rivals in conference.

  2. […] them 6-seed facing Baylor in Omaha.  This would be a rematch of the November 30 matchup that WSU won 67-64. That game wasn’t on TV so we didn’t get to see Baylor, and frankly, we haven’t […]

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