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Basketball is beautiful and Kyle Weaver is awesome

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 11, 2008

I finally got a chance to watch the USC game in its entirety today on ESPN360, and all I really want to do is watch it again. At the risk of offending Jo-Jo, soccer is not the beautiful game — basketball, when it’s played the way the Cougars played it on Saturday in dismantling USC, is.

I say that not because we ran roughshod over USC, because we really didn’t, despite what the final score said. No, it was beautiful because this was Cougar basketball at its finest — methodical and opportunistic. Somewhere, Dick Bennett was smiling broadly. (Despite what we saw for three years, he does smile.)

The performance was most impressive for its sheer, cold efficiency. Check out the game flow from ESPN.com:

ESPN WSU-USC

Notice how the graph steadily gets wider as the game goes along? That’s our offense just being steady-eddie, sharing the ball to the tune of 17 assists. Notice those long flat spots for USC? That’s our defense turning up the juice. Just awesome on all fronts.

Right now, though, nothing is more awesome than Kyle Weaver.

I spent the better part of the year harping on Derrick Low to carry more of the load offensively, to be more assertive. But the answer to our offensive consistency is blossoming right under our noses, and his name is Kyle Weaver. He is displaying an array of offensive skills that quite frankly is unmatched in the conference, if not the country.

All of his tools were on display on Saturday. He took guys off the dribble. He finished around the basket. He posted up. He hit mid-range jumpers. He drained a 3. He brought the ball up the floor. He passed out of double teams. He locked down a guy that will be in the top five of the NBA Draft next year.

Superlatives can’t even begin to describe what Weaver did on Saturday. He — not O.J. Mayo — was far and away the most dominant force on the court.

While I still think a consistent Low would go a long way to helping this team be successful, all I’ve really been longing for is a consistent scoring threat. Weaver has become that. It seems like every game a new skillset is on display. Best of all, he’s not forcing the action — he’s taking what the defense is giving him and exploiting the snot out of it. If they back off, he hits a 3 (.522 shooting from beyond the arc in conference play). If they crowd, he goes around. If they double or pack the lane, he finds the shooter. If he can get to the rim, he finishes.

Weaver is absolutely leading this team right now, and I think that bodes well for our long-term chances. In the past, Weaver seemed uncomfortable with such a prominent role — last year’s meltdown against Vandy in the Tournament being exhibit A. But this year, there’s an air of confidence about him. He loves having the ball in his hands. Like a third-year NFL quarterback, the game has slowed down for him, and he is killing people out there.

There is no fear in Weaver’s eyes, and this team needs a guy like that. For as talented of a scorer as Derrick Low can be, I just don’t think he’ll ever be that go-to guy that every team needs. He doesn’t seem to love to have the ball in his hands, and still has the urge to pass-first. I think Weaver continuing to carry that load will free Low both physically and psychologically.

Now the challenge is for Tony Bennett to use Weaver to his fullest as a weapon. Every possession should go through Weaver in some capacity. I’d love to see more post-ups, and I’d love to see him bring the ball up the floor as much as he did on Saturday. Yes, he still can turn the ball over in bunches at times, but the potential for good things to happen when the ball is in his hands is so great that we’ll all be willing to overlook those things.

One of the biggest complaints about the Cougs the last two years is that they’ve lacked a go-to guy, someone who can get his shot off when he needs to or take over a game. Well, that guy is here, and his name is Kyle Weaver.

Genuflect at his awesomeness.

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4 Responses to “Basketball is beautiful and Kyle Weaver is awesome”

  1. KA said

    It is too bad Kyle is not one of the top 30 for the Wooden Award. Low is on the list though.

  2. Nuss said

    Well, it’s pretty tough to take any list of the best 30 players in the country that doesn’t have Ryan Anderson on it seriously. You know that Wooden just lends his name to that thing because if it were up to him, he’d have Weaver on that list — Kyle’s just the kind of guy that Wooden loves.

  3. Jo-Jo said

    You know, I was at the first game this group of seniors ever played in at home. Back When Daven Harmeling was looking like a he’d be sitting with Chris Henry right now, and Josh Akognon looked like our future. But as I watched the game, I noticed a pass made by Kyle Weaver that blew my mind. I thought then, “this is going to be the best player in this group.” I remember telling you and Sado that four years ago. To bad that was never published.

    One the other hand I felt like Derrick Low was a worthless piece of crap, and that it would be nice to have a guy like Henry to put is ass into someone and get a rebound. Obviously, I’m no genius.

  4. Nuss said

    Yeah, well, I remember thinking Marcus Moore was headed to the NBA and that Thomas Kelati was perhaps the worst Pac-10 player I had ever seen this side of Cameron Johnson. Sometimes, it’s just tough to tell how guys are going to develop, and I guess I can give Paul Graham credit for hitting on one guy in four years …

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