WSU HOOPS

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Archive for February 25th, 2008

Vote for Butch!

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 25, 2008

It’s your duty as a Coug.

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Posted in Around the 'Net | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

What the heck is it with Arizona?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 25, 2008

I don’t know that I would say Arizona just has our number — I’d put UCLA in that category this year, and I would have put Oregon in that category last year — but man, there is something about playing WSU that absolutely brings out the best in the Wildcats.

Longball referred to them as the “short-handed McDiva All Americans from Arizona,” and maybe that’s a part of what happens. It’s clear that Arizona coach Kevin O’Neill did a good bit of appealing to the Wildcats’ pride, and with a chance to make a very good case for their inclusion in the NCAA tournament, the weren’t about to let a bunch of nobodies from nowhere stop them. Their play almost screamed, “Washington State? Who the heck is Washington State? We’re freaking Arizona. You think you’re the only ones who can play hard? We’ll show you what it’s like to play hard with All-American talent, something you’ll never have.”

And that was the difference on Saturday. Simply, Arizona wanted it more.

Sure, we hung around for a half; despite shooting 28 percent, we only trailed by a point. As I flipped over to watch the end of Memphis/Tennessee, I actually felt pretty good. Our best offense was in front of us and despite the hot start by Chase Budinger, our defense had been very good for most of the half — remember, Arizona scored its 11th point at about the 14 minute mark, but finished the half with just 24. Pretty darn good.

But something funny happened after halftime. The Wildcats just willed themselves to a victory, while we just wilted.

In second chance points, Arizona held just a 4-2 advantage in the first half; in the second half, it was 5-0 Arizona. In points off turnovers, the Cougs held a slim 6-5 advantage in the first half; in the second half, it was 12-2 Arizona. Those are sure signs of one of two things: Either being physically dominated or being caught flat-footed after being outworked. I don’t think the former is the case; Jo-Jo and I were exchanging text messages as we watched the game, and the thing we kept coming back to is we just don’t think Arizona is a better team than we are. So the latter must have been the case, especially in terms of the turnovers. Most of them were of the sloppy variety, and those are the ones that lead to extreme advantages for the offense.

Of course, that’s just the defense, which allowed a 115.9 efficiency after not allowing an opponent to exceed 96 in four games. The offense was even worse; this was by far the worst weekend of offense we’ve seen all season. Our shooting was bad against Arizona State, but it was absolutely horrendous against Arizona — just 39 percent in effective field goal percentage. That is positively brutal. It led to an offensive efficiency rating of just 98.0, easily our lowest of the Pac-10 season.

Against ASU, I was willing to chalk it up to a bad night, especially since I felt like the shots we were getting were good shots that just weren’t falling. Against Arizona, however, not only was it a bad night shooting, but it was a bad night with decisions and schemes. Credit Arizona for doing a great job manning up — seriously, how many screens does Derrick Low have to run through to get open? — but we did not help ourselves. A perfect example is that I think we know by now what Aron Baynes can and can’t do; if his teammates all of a sudden start asking him to do things they should know he can’t do, well, in my book that’s on them and not on him.

Since both were bad for what I see as different reasons, I’m not sure what kind of reasonable conclusions we can draw from the outcomes. What I’m hoping is that this isn’t pointing to what I’m afraid it’s pointing to — tired legs. We’ll know a lot more this weekend, especially against Stanford, and I really hope I’m wrong.

Whether we should be worried going forward will be a subject of a post later today, but I do know this: Enough playing around. Let’s figure out a way to bring it this weekend, starting with some payback against Cal on Thursday.

Posted in Game Analysis | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »