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One down, five to go

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 20, 2008

So, how about those halftime adjustments?

With WSU and Winthrop tied at the half, I identified five things that were going wrong for the Cougs that allowed the Eagles to hang close. Some of it was Winthrop; most of it was our own doing. TB and the boys must have had the blog on the laptop at halftime, because here’s what happened:

  1. Too many turnovers — 1st half: 5; 2nd half: 3.
  2. Too many offensive rebounds — 1st half 5; 2nd half 1.
  3. Too much Taj McCullough — 1st half 15 points; 2nd half 2 points.
  4. Too many 3s given up — 1st half 4-for-8; 2nd half 2-for-11.
  5. Too little Low — 1st half zero points; 2nd half 11 points.

I honestly don’t have enough superlatives to describe that second half of basketball. What a veteran, gutty performance. It was so calm, so collected, that you’d hardly know they were being threatened by a lesser team. They knew, if they shored up a few things and kept doing what they were doing, that they were going to be able to stop Winthrop and get some things going offensively.

To me, this game illustrates perfectly the difference between last year’s team and this year’s team. With the offense sputtering tonight, Kyle Weaver was able to carry us until the rest of the team got going. Not only that, but our offense was able to keep us in it, even as the other team played out of its collective mind. And of course, Aron Baynes had just the kind of game we all thought he could — some nice post moves against smaller guys and dunks off guard penetration.

That was as dominant a stretch of basketball as you’ll see in this tournament, No. 1 seed or otherwise. To hold any tournament team that’s not a No. 16 seed to single digit points for the vast majority of a half is just spectacular. It even allowed us to get a little rest for the regulars, which is no small thing this time of year.

And don’t take it for granted that that’s what high seeds do — just look at all the trouble Duke had with Belmont and Xavier had with Georgia. (And Wisconsin is having with Cal State-Fullerton. Go Josh Akognon!) This was just what the doctor ordered. If a deep run into this tournament isn’t in the cards, it won’t be because this team isn’t ready.

I’ll probably have some additional thoughts tomorrow once all the stats roll in, but you should be doing what I’m doing right now: Basking in the glow of a tremendous victory.

One down, five to go.


6 Responses to “One down, five to go”

  1. drpezz said

    That game looked awesome from the ESPN udating scoreboard while I sat in a meeting until 7 pm. Grrr! In all seriousness, I couldn’t believe the score as WSU just kept scoring, and Winthrop seemed stuck in single digits for so long. I need CBS to replay the game for me. 🙂

  2. Nuss said

    You actually can watch the full replay on the MMOD. I had some problems with it on my Mac, however. Yours is newer than mine, though, so you might not have the same issues.

  3. johnnycougar said

    I’d like to point out that the Cougs outscored Winthrop 12-0 when CBS had cut away to other games. I stopped keeping track once the incredible Belmont Duke game was completely showing, but hey what a stat eh?

  4. Nuss said

    It was really annoying the first couple of times. I know everyone loves Gus Johnson, but how hard is it tell us how the Cougs scored their points while we were watching another game? I sent a text to Jo-Jo one of the times wondering where the mysterious points came from.

  5. johnnycougar said

    Going back to your article, I’d like to say that the biggest difference to me was Cowgill’s defense improving. Three parts to this: first, he shut down their leading scorer, I think the guy only got 2 the second half; second, the better positioning on D allowed Baynes to stay on his man rather than help out underneath, leaving us more prepared to grab defensive boards; third, their leading scorer being shut down in addition to Weaver’s smothering of Jenkins (?) left the less-talented rest of the team to carry the load, which judging by the shooting % were unready to do.
    It was also nice to see Rochestie and Low heat up and supplement the Weaver and Baynes show. The rest of the team really got involved once Winthrop lost their confidence. You could sort of see it happening after the first eight minutes or so – the missed shots led to uninspired defense, leading to open jumpers for Forrest and Cowgill. When we add that midrange game to our already solid inside-out style, we’re pretty much unstoppable.

  6. Longball said

    Sorry i missed the game thread! I was out at the future father in-law’s (fingers crossed) birthday dinner trying not to see the score until i could get back and rev up the TiVo. Great start for the Cougs, they look ready to do some damage!

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