WSU HOOPS

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Archive for February 6th, 2008

Are the Cougs tired?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 6, 2008

Early this season, I mentioned that I was concerned about the minutes our starters were logging, especially in blowouts. Then, as this team slugged its way through the first seven games of the Pac-10 season, we all pointed to some road weariness before the start of this four-game homestand.

With that, I pose this question: Is it possible Tony Bennett deserves some of the blame for our failing defense? Here’s what I said in his grade report at the end of the non-conference season:

It certainly appears Tony Bennett is putting all his eggs into this season. His starters have logged heavy minutes in a lot of blowouts, as he tries to get this team into peak performance shape before Pac-10 play. Development of younger players has been largely pushed to the side. … However, the measurement of the job Bennett does will come at the end of the year when this NCAA Tournament-or-bust strategy can truly be evaluated.

A number of people said to me that starters on other teams were logging just as heavy of minutes as our frontline players, and to a certain extent, that’s true. Taylor Rochestie leads the team in percentage of minutes played at 81.2, far behind Pac-10 guys like O.J. Mayo (90.1), Patrick Christopher (87.3) or Chase Budinger (86.5 percent).

However, the big difference is this: In most of those situations, it’s a player or two from each team who’s spending so much time on the floor. In the Cougars’ case, it’s all the starters — especially the three guards — who are carrying such a heavy load. WSU starters are playing 76.6 percent of the available minutes — 27th nationally. Arizona and USC are the only Pac-10 teams who exceed that.

Additionally, among Pac-10 players, the Cougars have three of the top 14 players in terms of percentage of minutes played: Rochestie (seventh), Kyle Weaver (10th, 80.6 percent) and Derrick Low (14th, 78.7). No other team has more than two in those top 14, and some — UCLA, Arizona State and Washington — have only one.

For a team that already doesn’t have the quickest feet, this could be another reason why we’re seeing such a drop off in defensive effectiveness. Just some food for thought.

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