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Posts Tagged ‘Winthrop Eagles’

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.


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

GAME THREAD: No. 3 WSU vs. No. 14 Winthrop

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 20, 2008

Cougars (24-8) vs. Eagles (22-11)

Pepsi Center (Denver, Colo.), 4:20 p.m. PDT

A lot of national pundits are dreading this game, saying it probably will be the most boring game of the opening round. If you’re a fan of another team and think teams that value every possession on both offense and defense are boring, then I guess you’re probably going to not like this game very much. But since one man’s boring is a Coug fan’s beautiful, this game will positively be eye candy to us, especially since it’s unlikely that any other team is going to beat us at what we do best.

Now, a lot of people have said this game features two teams that mirror each other. That’s probably true in terms of style — Winthrop averages 63.7 possessions (291st nationally) and WSU 59.1 (336th) thanks to patient offense and hard-nosed defense — but that’s where the comparisons ought to end.

While most people associate the Cougs with defense, and rightly so, they often do so at the expense of recognizing the offense, which is one of the best in the country (21st in offensive efficiency). There is no such confusion with Winthrop. The Eagles are one of the most defense-depended teams in the tournament, ranking 14th nationally in defensive efficiency (89.8), but just 228th in offensive efficiency (97.1). Honestly, this is a team the Cougs should have very little difficulty shutting down.

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Posted in Game Threads, NCAA Tournament | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Tomorrow cannot get here fast enough

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 19, 2008

We are now just under 24 hours from the tipoff of the 2008 Tournament, and quite frankly, I’ve got ants in my pants like my freshmen waiting for the clock to hit 3 p.m.  I’ve been racking my brain, trying to think of something meaningful to write today, but it’s been futile. It’s just time to play the games already.

So, instead of wasting my time and yours with something that won’t be worth reading, I’ll instead just throw some reminders your way as we look toward tomorrow:

  • If you haven’t signed up for our WSU HOOPS Bracket Challenge, what are you waiting for?
  • Visit for links to all the latest news on the Cougs.
  • Visit this Rock Hill Herald site for all the local news on Winthrop.
  • We’ll have games threads for the morning and afternoon NCAA sessions, as well as (obviously) the Cougar game thread. Hoping to have lots of good discussion about all the games.
  • If you are at a broadband connection, you should be signed up for CBS’ March Madness On Demand. I did it last year, and it really is as good as advertised. Very, very cool — and free. Do it soon, because they’re just about out of VIP passes. They limit the number of people that can be connected at any one time, and the VIP pass makes it so you don’t have to wait long for a connection to open up.

That’s all for today. I’m probably going to go to bed early tonight like a kid on Christmas Eve so the morning gets here faster.

Posted in Misc. Blog Stuff | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Tomorrow cannot get here fast enough

Cougs’ draw not as tough as you might think

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 18, 2008

Raise your hand if your thinking on Sunday as the bracket was unveiled went something like this.

“Sweet! We’re a No. 4 seed! That’s even better than I thought. … Winthrop, huh? Didn’t they beat Notre Dame last year? That sounds like a trap waiting to happen. … Crap! We’re in the same region as North Carolina. Bye-bye Elite Eight. …”

Based on the responses I’ve seen over at SportsLink and heard from friends, most believe we didn’t get a favorable draw.

I happen to totally disagree. Let’s start with the opener.

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Posted in Breakdowns, NCAA Tournament | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Winthrop no stranger to upsets

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 17, 2008

As I’m sure you’ll hear plenty over the next couple of days, Winthrop beat higher-seeded Notre Dame to open last year’s tournament in Spokane. That team wasn’t the same as this team — more on that later — but one key ingredient in an upset is that a team genuinely believes it can do it.

Here are a couple of videos from CBS to refresh your memory.

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Posted in NCAA Tournament, Video | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Winthrop no stranger to upsets

Getting a read on Winthrop

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 17, 2008

I’m working on a post with my thoughts on how the bracket shapes up for the Cougs, but to tide you over until then, I thought I’d throw some links your way to get a read on WSU’s first round opponent, the Winthrop Eagles.

If you find other links you want to pass along, feel free to do so in the comments. We’ll create a static link box to the right sometime tomorrow.

Posted in NCAA Tournament | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »