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Archive for February 9th, 2008

Now’s the time

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 9, 2008

Boy, we needed that one today in the worst possible way. And what a perfect time to do it, with most of the nation watching. Spectacular.

I’ll have a full breakdown of the game on Monday afternoon, because I’ll be able to watch a replay on ESPN360 at work — I can’t get ESPN360 at home, and I don’t have a DVR. (If you’re interested in what others saw, check out the comments from loyal readers Longball and Ptowncoug on the Game Thread.)

From what I could gather from following mobile web updates during the caucus and in reading up on the game this evening, it sounds like this was just what the doctor ordered. I said after the UCLA game that if we continued with the intensity and execution that we had against the Bruins, that we’d be successful and win a lot of games the rest of the way. It appears that’s exactly what happened today.

We had a ridiculous effective field goal percentage of 67 and posted an equally impressive offensive efficiency rating of 129.8. More awesome than that is that we did it with a balanced scoring attack that (for once) didn’t rely on Derrick Low to carry the load. All eight guys in the rotation had at least three shots, and no one had more than nine. I advocated for most of the year for Low needing to be in the 12- to 14-shot range, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is the way it’s going to have to be the rest of the year for this team to be successful. Low is just too streaky.

Beyond that, our defense is showing some serious signs of life. The defensive performance against the Bruins was a lot better than the statistics would show, and it translated today. Only 87.7 efficiency for the Trojans, who could only get to the free throw line eight times. In looking at the shot chart, CBS Sportsline said USC only was 4-of-9 on what would be considered layups and only 2-of-8 from the key area. That’s just 17 shots out of 46 total that came in what would be considered prime penetration area. That’s outstanding, given the troubles we have had with penetration virtually all season.

Now comes the time when we have to build on it. Spank OSU on Thursday and get a tough win at Mac Court on Saturday, and we’re rolling again, coming back home for the Arizona schools. Let’s do it.

Because now’s the time.

If you missed the game as I did, here is the ESPN SportsCenter highlight package for your enjoyment. Read the rest of this entry »

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GAME THREAD: USC at No. 17 WSU

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 9, 2008

Trojans (15-7 overall, 6-4 Pac-10) at Cougars (17-5, 5-5)

Beasley Coliseum (Pullman, Wash.), 12:30 p.m. PT
TV: ABC

Not much to say heading into this one. The Cougs need a win badly, and it doesn’t hurt that they could get it against one of the hottest teams in the conference in front of a sizable regional television audience.

The Cougs really destroyed USC late in the first matchup, exploiting the Trojans’ full-court press for numerous easy buckets. WSU posted its highest offensive efficiency rating of the conference season the first time around (123.3).

The defense was pretty good in that one, too — although giving up a pretty high shooting percentage, the Cougs kept USC off the free throw line (just four attempts) and pretty much made the Trojans one-dimensional with O.J. Mayo carrying most of the load.

Of, course, Davon Jefferson (right, posterizing Jon Brockman on Thursday) didn’t play in that first contest. And that is not small.

Since sitting out that game with what Tim Floyd described as “not making the cut,” the 6-foot-7, 215-pound freshman wing has averaged nearly 15 points (with a high of 25) and 6.5 rebounds. He’s a freakish athlete perhaps best known for this amazing tip jam against Memphis (of which I could find no video), and his emergence is perhaps the No. 1 reason USC has caught fire. No longer can teams succeed by simply trying to give Mayo his and limit everyone else.

You probably won’t see any comments from me during the game, since I’m going caucusing (is that a word?) with my wife this afternoon. Although I love the Cougs, something tells me that helping to pick the next president is a bit more important today. See you all this afternoon.

Posted in Game Threads | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Fun stuff to occupy your time this morning

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 9, 2008

I’m working on the game thread right now, but I thought I’d pass along a couple of things to occupy your time as you’re waiting for that 12:30 tipoff.

First is a story from Andy Katz at ESPN. Last year, the NCAA did something unbelievably progressive and invited a number of college basketball writers to participate in a mock bracket exercise so that they could get a feel for the selection process that so often gets criticized in March.

The exercise was such a success, as the writers came away with such an appreciation for how difficult selecting the field is, that the NCAA decided to do it again this year. Here’s Katz’s report of what happened this year. If you’re interested, here’s my post from last year on my original blog, which includes links to the stories a few national writers wrote last year. They are very interesting to read.

Second, if you need a refresher of what the Cougs did to USC the first time around, here you go. I guarantee the Trojans haven’t forgotten.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from youtube.com posted with vodpod

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