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Was that more Oregon or more us?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 14, 2008

Welcome to our first edition of You Write the Recap!

There are a couple of reasons for this, one driven by pragmatism and the other by curiosity. I just don’t have time to write a recap and game thread preview on the same day, so this will have to do. But I’m actually really curious as to how you viewed what transpired in the second half.

In lieu of having a DVR and the opportunity to watch the game again, I was of the opinion as it unfolded that Oregon’s comeback had a heck of a lot more to do with Oregon making plays and shots than it did with us doing something wrong.

Tajuan Porter just started going nuts, and it’s awful hard to maintain a big lead when you’re constantly trading 2’s for 3’s (and later 1’s for 2’s when we started missing our free throws … again!). Although the Cougs weren’t perfect, I just don’t think it had much to do with flawed defense.

Other things I noticed were the absence of Aron Baynes and the ineffectiveness of Daven Harmeling on the offensive end.

I can’t find any mention of Baynes being injured — Vince Grippi at the Spokesman chalked it up to matchups — but I found it curious that the guy who was the difference in the previous game against the Ducks could only get on the floor for 13 minutes. I was encouraged, however, that we rebounded as well as we did without him. (Oregon’s four-guard lineup probably had something to do with that.)

In terms of Harmeling, he looks like he’s wound up tighter than a two-dollar watch on every shot right now — kind of like he did at the beginning of the year before he hurt his hand. That fluid stroke just isn’t there. If he doesn’t produce tonight, Bennett is going to have an interesting quandary with his rotation heading into the Tournament.

OK, that’s it from me. This is your floor now. Let me have it.


7 Responses to “Was that more Oregon or more us?”

  1. Andy said

    TB said postgame that he pulled Baynes because Oregon pulled their center.

    I agree the 2d half had more to do with the Ducks, especially Porter, making shots. The crucial (and winning) coaching decision was putting Cowgill on Porter the last few minutes of the game.

    Really like the way Nick K. played defense down the stretch, and he made 7/10 free throws.

    Go Cougs!

  2. Longball said

    Even though it drove me nuts that we let them back in the game, in retorspect i have to credit our guys for withstanding a whithering barage, which everyone knew was coming. The ducks were smelling NIT and wanted nothing to do with it, and we took their best shot in the 2nd half. Ulike the Furd collapse we had a couple weeks ago, in this game our seniors continued to make plays down the stretch to hold that lead. As hair raising as it was, i also imagine it was frustrating for the Ducks that once they got it down to 5 points we just kept coming up with baskets at the offense end to hold them off. I dont like to see anyone score over 40 on us in a half, but when TP is hitting fall-away treys from 40 feet with Cowgill in his face, whatchya gonna do? As far as Baynes minutes, i just think Tony went to a quicker lineup. Basically Cowgill took on Baynes roll of positioning for the easy dunks when our guards drew doubles on penetration. This may have been the game winning gambit on Tony’s part. We had already beaten this team twice and they knew the formula, so Tony threw something new at them and VOILA, 3 in a row baby! Also, with Baynes only playing 13 minutes he is better rested for the battle he has on his hands tonight with the twins. Gameball to Cowgill who was just awesome all night, and a nod to Low for continuing to score in the 2nd half this time! I was also glad to see Weaver back to his old self, making great decisions and racking up assists. When Weafver is forcing shots outside our normal offensive flow, we are usually in trouble.

    Does Harm break out tonight? Could be huge for us if he does.

  3. johnnycougar said

    Alright, I’ll take you up. However, the caveat is that it was my birthday so I watched the game at Rico’s with a few microbrews in me šŸ™‚

    I think everyone will agree on the first half. We played solid defense but lights-out offense. Low and Rochestie got to the hoop consistently and that seemed to open up the outside shot as well. Cowgill was back to last year’s form offensively, reading the defense correctly and making great cuts to the hoop for easy dunks. I think he even hit an 18 footer! Baynes was a force when he was in, hitting three of four shots and grabbing a couple rebounds. We even were able to get Cross in there for a couple minutes to spell Weaver and Rochestie.
    On defense, everyone played well but in fairness Oregon wasn’t hitting the few open shots they did get. Between Cowgill and Baynes we kept Leunen quiet, and overall the Ducks couldn’t go on any sort of run. We also forced a ton of turnovers, but I would have to say about half of those were truly giveaways and half were takeaways, if you get my meaning.

    The second half was really more how I expected the game to go. TP finally got hot and even their bench was draining 3’s. I think we would have been more uptempo and aggressive if the game had started like that, but since we had at least an eight point lead until around 9 minutes left we played slow and patient, wearing down the clock. It’s hard to watch in some ways because you felt like the game was there for the taking, but ultimately Oregon just ran out of time catching up so you can’t fault the Cougs for the strategy. I’m not sure if this is relevant, but it is a classic soccer strategy – if you are up by a couple goals you can afford to rely on your stingy defense and wearing down the clock. Since our defense is so good, once we’re up by a dozen we don’t need to rely on the offense for anything more than a basket every couple possessions and some free throws. I was a little confused by some of the game thread comments about how we were letting the game slip away or that we needed to be doing this or that. I thought we played more or less a perfect 2nd half, given the lead we had and the clock situation. Honestly, the only time I was worried was when TP made that shot that was closer to halfcourt than the 3pt line. But Tony Bennett made the right adjustment, telling our boys to switch on the screen so Cowgill was on TP off the pick and pop. This led to a couple easy layups but as long as we shot better than 50% free throws it was an acceptable trade. Much better than TP making absurd 3’s like he can and then us needing to make shots against a fired up defense.

    I know this is hella-long already, but I feel like there are a couple player issues to be addressed. In no particular order:

    Baynes played well except for his two fouls. You show me his 13 minutes and I’ll show you Catron’s 14 minutes. Platt and Viney (the other two bigs besides Leunen) got six minutes total. You have to give Oregon credit here, they basically decided that trying to match up with Baynes was going to end up poorly (like the Eugene game) and so they went with 4 guards + Leunen. Hairston and Odia are biggish so they didn’t lose too much size with the switch. Anyways, this goes back to the strategy I mentioned earlier – if we were trying to outscore them rather than relying on defense then Bennett would have kept Aron in. However, knowing that Oregon can always go on huge runs if the can get dribble penetration, my guess is that Bennett bet on our D rather than on our O.

    Harmeling played poorly. Pretty much enough said, though I think he’ll get more minutes against Stanford due to size matchups and such. I always pray he hits his first shot, because if he doesn’t then he’s a liability on O and D. To give him credit, in the first half he played better without the ball and even had a couple assists. But missing three straight 3’s did him in I think, he didn’t play well (or much) after that.

    I though Niko played pretty well, to be honest. I didn’t see him make poor decisions with the ball, and he has great court vision, which allowed for him to get open for passes down the stretch. He made 7-10 free throws and it was good enough. He didn’t make his 1 shot from the field but thank goodness he wasn’t hoisting up 3’s like he sometimes does. He played within the game and to Bennett’s strategy. He did get a bunch of fouls and his D wasn’t great, but all in all he proved to be a solid fourth guard. It was good to see he didn’t crack under pressure.

    I wish Forrest had gotten some more time but he suffered the same fate as Baynes. Cowgill was playing so well that we didn’t need Forrest’s minutes or scoring as much as we have in times past. It was helpful that Leunen was content to take long jumpers so Cowgill didn’t get into foul trouble the 2nd half – I don’t see that being the case tonight, we’ll really need Forrest to step up to beat Stanford.

    One last thing: Weaver is still our best player, and Low playing well opens up so much of our offense, but Rochestie is The Man. His confidence is brimming and he’s really on top of his game right now. I love our guards! Go Cougs!

  4. Nuss said

    Hey, it was my birthday too! Happy birthday to us!

  5. […] today we’ll direct you to WSU Hoops, which is taking a different approach by having the commenters write the […]

  6. NyCOUG said

    Probably not much to add beyond what’s been said already, but I’ll echo some of thoughts already posted here.

    1) I really think Baynes minutes had to do with match-ups more than anything else. That, and the fact that Bennett probably wanted the big galoot to be well-rested for tonight’s match-up with the Disney Twins (if you didn’t see the SI article, the Lopez bros are both Disney and Michael Jackson freaks… hmmmm).

    2) As far as the varying halves go, Oregon just caught an unbelievable fire at the start of the 2nd half — Porter made some shots that had absolutely no business going in. Nothing you can do to defend that really. Also, the Ducks were like a cornered animal in the 2nd half, desperate and fighting for their lives, so that may have been part of it too. Yes, they should’ve been fired up from the opening tip, but Ernie Kent has proven that he’s not great at motivating his players properly. If they don’t make the tourney, we may have just witnessed his last game on the Duck sidelines… (save NIT games).

    3) Really impressed about our ability to withstand their flurry, and the play of all our seniors plus Rochestie and even Niko. But Rochestie just seems to be getting better and more confident with every game. It’ll be exciting to see him own this team next year.

    That’s all from Gotham. We’re doing our best out here to extend Cougar Nation from coast-to-coast! Check us out!

    GO COUGS!!!

  7. Bradley Logan said

    Well, a little late then, but Happy Birthday Nuss! Glad you could get a Cougar win on the special day.

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