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Posts Tagged ‘Taylor Rochestie’

MAILBAG: APR, the starting five, and recruiting

Posted by Jeff Nusser on May 19, 2008

Welcome to our first edition of the mailbag, where I will attempt to answer your inquisitive questions with my awesome ability to speculate despite a total lack of access to any kind of insider information!

Mike R. wonders about the effect of Thomas Abercrombie’s departure on the team’s APR:

“Perhaps this should be a mailbag question (feel free to answer it then), but what kind of impact will this have on our APR score? Obviously, it’s not as bad when guys leave while in good academic standing, but will this still have a negative impact?”

In a word, yes, it will have a negative impact. But it will be minimal.

The important thing to remember is that while any departure from the program does hurt you a little bit, it only really hurts you a lot when the guy leaves the program academically ineligible or having not made what the NCAA deems as satisfactory progress towards a degree. (Vince Grippi does a great job explaining it here.) We have no reason to believe that was the case with Abercrombie.

And even then, that’s only if the average of the previous four years is below 925. This basketball program is going to soar well over that 925 mark next year, thanks to the abysmally low score in Dick Bennett’s first year finally leaving the four-year average. Even if Abercrombie did leave the program ineligible, chances are good there would be no penalty, anyway. It’s this progress that’s allowed Bennett to take a chance on a talented guy like DeAngelo Casto, who might be a litle bit of a question mark in the classroom. If he doesn’t pan out, no harm, no foul.

Grady over at Stadium Way wonders about the starters in 2008-09:

“Hey, I’ll bite on that mailbag request. What do you think the starting five will be for the Cougs next year?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Mailbag | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Why we love WSU basketball

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 27, 2008

We’ve all heard the story about Taylor Rochestie giving up his scholarship next year so the Cougs could pick up another recruit. But I guarantee you’ve never heard it told quite like this.

This is why, no matter what happens tonight, we love this team. And it’s why I count it an absolute blessing and privilege to have a man like Tony Bennett and the men that will take the floor tonight representing my university. It’s why I do what I do with this blog.

The beauty of a selfless act is that it begets more selfless acts. Tony Bennett gave Rochestie a chance when no one else would. Rochestie gave up his scholarship when the team needed it. And everybody on the team knows it, which means when it comes time for the next selfless act — showing up for extra workouts during the offseason, sticking around for an extra hour to help a struggling teammate shoot jumpers, staying up and talking with a teammate who had a particularly rough day, giving a guy a ride — they’ll do it.

Not because they have to. Because they want to.

Thanks to Longball for passing the link along. 

Posted in Around the 'Net | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Best performance of the season so far

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 29, 2008

Today’s going to be a two-post day, because I’m finding as I’m writing that I have a lot to say. (Which, of course, will come as a complete shock to anyone who knows me.) Here’s the first one, a look back at last night. I’ll have one a little later on the defense.

In the wake of the Arizona loss, we were left with a number of questions floating around in our heads.

We wondered if the offensive funk against the Sun Devils and the Wildcats was an aberration or a sign of something bigger, such as tired legs. We wondered if we should simply chalk the second consecutive poor performance against Arizona to matchup problems.

Most of all, we wondered if the four-game win streak, in which the Cougs played the kind of defense that reminded us of last year, was a mirage — and if our hopes for a high NCAA seeding were slipping away before our eyes.

After last night, there should be very little doubt about the answers to those questions. And the answers are all positive.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Game Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Are the Cougs tired?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 6, 2008

Early this season, I mentioned that I was concerned about the minutes our starters were logging, especially in blowouts. Then, as this team slugged its way through the first seven games of the Pac-10 season, we all pointed to some road weariness before the start of this four-game homestand.

With that, I pose this question: Is it possible Tony Bennett deserves some of the blame for our failing defense? Here’s what I said in his grade report at the end of the non-conference season:

It certainly appears Tony Bennett is putting all his eggs into this season. His starters have logged heavy minutes in a lot of blowouts, as he tries to get this team into peak performance shape before Pac-10 play. Development of younger players has been largely pushed to the side. … However, the measurement of the job Bennett does will come at the end of the year when this NCAA Tournament-or-bust strategy can truly be evaluated.

A number of people said to me that starters on other teams were logging just as heavy of minutes as our frontline players, and to a certain extent, that’s true. Taylor Rochestie leads the team in percentage of minutes played at 81.2, far behind Pac-10 guys like O.J. Mayo (90.1), Patrick Christopher (87.3) or Chase Budinger (86.5 percent).

However, the big difference is this: In most of those situations, it’s a player or two from each team who’s spending so much time on the floor. In the Cougars’ case, it’s all the starters — especially the three guards — who are carrying such a heavy load. WSU starters are playing 76.6 percent of the available minutes — 27th nationally. Arizona and USC are the only Pac-10 teams who exceed that.

Additionally, among Pac-10 players, the Cougars have three of the top 14 players in terms of percentage of minutes played: Rochestie (seventh), Kyle Weaver (10th, 80.6 percent) and Derrick Low (14th, 78.7). No other team has more than two in those top 14, and some — UCLA, Arizona State and Washington — have only one.

For a team that already doesn’t have the quickest feet, this could be another reason why we’re seeing such a drop off in defensive effectiveness. Just some food for thought.

Posted in Breakdowns | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

That fine line

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 3, 2008

Tony Bennett has been preaching for months that the line between great success and great failure for these Cougars is as thin as it can possibly be.

As much as we all want to tell people that we’re not as devoid of good players as we’re often made out to be, the reality is that we don’t have the same kinds of athletes as the rest of the Pac-10. We don’t have athletes who can consistently overcome their off days at the free throw line or taking care of the ball — or whatever — with superhuman individual efforts based on their giftings.

And I suppose that’s what was most stunning about the past two games. Over the last year-and-a-half we’ve become so accustomed to our boys pulling out these close games that we’ve begun to take it for granted. When it doesn’t, we’re startled. When we don’t play fundamentally sound basketball and it costs us a game, we wonder if all the pundits were right about our team, that they really are just a bunch of overachievers who caught a lot of breaks last year.

I know that my faith has been shaken quite a bit in these first nine Pac-10 games.

Would I feel this way if any one of the 82 small things that could have gone differently against Cal had gone differently and the Cougs would have won? Would I feel this way if Robin Lopez doesn’t hit the miracle shot of his life or if Taylor Rochestie hits a layup or if Robbie Cowgill or Kyle Weaver hit just one more free throw?

Would I feel the same way if a couple of close wins instead of close losses had left us 7-2?

Probably not as strong as I feel it now, so certainly there is some emotion at play in this moment.

But emotion aside, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion about this team ever since watching it get embarrassed by UCLA and Arizona. That is something that just did not happen last year, and it gave me pause that it happened not just once, but twice. I’ve seen some really disturbing things, especially with regards to the defense, that I fully did not expect to see this season. I’ll go into that in more detail in my post tomorrow, but it’s become fairly obvious to all that our supposed “strength” is not our strength.

It’s not that I don’t believe this team is good; it is. The Cougs will make back-to-back tournaments — a HUGE accomplishment by most any program’s measure — and will probably receive a seed in the top half of the bracket. But it’s also become equally obvious that this team probably isn’t as good as we thought.

A lot of this likely would get masked if the Cougars played in a weaker conference, but they don’t. WSU has now lost four Pac-10 games and are staring No. 5 right in the face with UCLA coming to town on Thursday. (The Cougs only lost five Pac-10 games all of last year, in case you forgot.) There certainly is time for redemption — as I was going to write on the game thread that never got done yesterday, beat Stanford and you forget all about Cal, and a sweep over UCLA and USC will have us thinking Final Four again — but time is quickly running out on these Cougs to have the kind of season they dreamed.

Favorable seeding is so very important to a deep NCAA Tournament run, and a top three seed is looking less and less likely. The Cougs are now just 4-3 against the RPI top 50 and lack any kind of a signature win. Yes, road wins against Baylor, Gonzaga, USC and Arizona State are nice, but they’re not the kind that earn you a No. 2 seed. Wins over UCLA, Stanford and surging Arizona are. We’re 0-for-3 there.

This team already has reached unprecidented heights. But as a wise man in my life once said, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, because that’s what everyone remembers. Let’s hope these Cougars can figure out a way to finish strong, because they deserve it.

Posted in Game Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Thoughts on the Baylor victory

Posted by Jeff Nusser on December 1, 2007

Since I didn’t see the game thanks to it being on ESPNU, and since ESPN’s treatment on SportsCenter last night of this near upset of a No. 6 team amounted to 15 seconds of highlights — you’d think the only two interesting plays of the game were Low’s two late 3’s — I can’t really bring much to the table in the way of first-person analysis. (Several readers did a fine job of that last night.)

But what I can do is look at the numbers and offer up some observations.

First of all, I don’t know what it is about this team and its crappy starts, but they better get it figured out. I understand the whole thing about opponents coming out fired up and riding adrenaline early, but that only explains half the problem — the Cougars simply are not playing well early in games. If they don’t shore it up, there will come a point where they will not be able to dig themselves out of a hole. In fact, they might not have last night if Jerrells hadn’t missed the end of the game.

What went wrong in the first half? Well, the turnovers, for one. Let me hit you with two stats. Heading into last night …

  • WSU was 11th in the country in turnover percentage (the percentage of possessions that end up in a turnover);
  • Taylor Rochestie had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.4, and Kyle Weaver had one of 2.2; and
  • As a team, WSU had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5.

Last night? Ten assists, 14 turnovers as a team. Rochestie had four assists and three turnovers, Weaver had two assists and three turnovers. Very uncharacteristic, so it gives you hope that it’s something that’s solvable.

What else happened last night that’s solvable? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Game Analysis | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »