Trojans host Cougars in LA
(This WSU game preview appears courtesy of Heath Harshman)
After shooting just 1-5 from the field and scoring two points in the first 39:10 of Washington State’s basketball game against Stanford Saturday afternoon, freshman point guard Reggie Moore played like a senior and sunk 7-8 free throws in the final 50 seconds to keep the team from “Couging It” after relinquishing a 20 point halftime lead.
That 20 point halftime lead over Stanford was a great answer to a loss that was worse than the scoreboard indicated against Cal two nights before. But as has been the case with 2009-10 version of the Cougs, inconsistent shooting and poor defense reared its head. After allowing just three three-pointers in the first half against Stanford, the defense beyond the arc disappeared and allowed six more, five of which coming in the last 10:11 of the game.
This poor showing looked all too familiar after watching Cal shoot 55% from downtown, draining 11 three-pointers on Thursday night. Klay Thompson, who’s three point shooting has struggled in conference play, scored 23 of his game high 27 in the first thirty minutes, going cold for the final ten. There is yet to be a true leader who has picked the team up when it’s struggling on the court and that lack of leadership could hurt in the last months of the season.
Maybe Moore taking and making those free throws in the final minute of the game is a sign of a leader coming to the fore. Although he’s a true freshman, he’s played well for the Cougs this season, which has given him confidence that shows each night. But more consistency is needed from the promising point guard for him to truly lead this team.
Games are forty minutes long. Maybe it’s their age, maybe it’s the coaching, but for some reason a solid forty minutes of basketball has been eluding Ken Bone’s squad. Whether it’s the final ten minutes against Stanford or Gonzaga, the second half against Arizona State or the final two minutes against Arizona, a complete game seems tough to come by. At some point “A win is a win” has been said enough and a good win over a good squad is necessary to believe that this young team can be one of the top in the Pac-10.
All this inconsistency has perturbed coach Bone enough for him to think about mixing up the lineups a bit.
“We’ve got to play closer to 40 minutes of solid basketball,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “Maybe it’s time to shake up the lineup and go with different guys.”
A non-televised visit to USC Thursday (7:30 PM PST) to face the Trojans could be just the cure for the consistently inconsistent Cougs. The Trojans are 3-2 in Pac-10 play, ½ game ahead of WSU, with home wins over the Arizona schools, but road losses to Cal and Stanford. Having started the season 2-4, Head Coach Kevin O’Neill, has led them to a 9-2 record since, including quality wins over Tennessee and UNLV.
USC is coming off of a 21 point blasting of rival UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, allowing just 46 points and out rebounding the Bruins 36-20. The post game of the Trojans is led by sophomore Nikola Vucevic and junior University of North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, both of whom are averaging near double-doubles. Coach O’Neill will be looking to bang the boards and get in the paint against the Cougs, who have just one post player of note in six-foot-eight forward DeAngelo Casto.
Casto, the sophomore out of Spokane, WA, has been hit and miss this season, hitting double digits in points in exactly half of WSU’s games this year. After scoring 16 points, snatching 9 rebounds and hitting the game winning shot against Arizona the big man had just five points and six rebounds in the 25 point loss to Arizona State. He’s going to have to have a complete game on both ends of the court in order for Wazzu to play well in Los Angeles.
Something USC may not take full advantage of is the shoddy three point defense of WSU. The Trojans have made just 55 three pointers all season, around half of the Pac-10 team average. With guard Dwight Lewis, the team’s leading scorer with 13.8 points per game, making 22 of those shots from beyond the arc.
With the visit to USC’s Galen Center the first of three road games in nine days, a good start to a tough road trip which stops at UCLA on Saturday and at Washington the following Saturday, could be key. The next 3 games could shape just what kind of season these Cougs could have, and a solid forty minutes and a road win against a tough conference opponent could be just the kick start WSU needs.
In his weekly press conference Coach Bone stated that all but Thompson’s starting spot was up for grabs. Xavier Thames, Nikola Kaprovica, Charlie Enquist and James Watson were those named as players whose names were in the running for a starting spot. The entire press conference was put up as an audio file by Coug Center.
Though Reggie had a poor game, his strong willed performance at the free throw line in the final minute saved the win for WSU. Oregon Live spoke of Moore as one of the top two candidates for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
The UCLA game is a huge one for a Washington team that must produce wins on the road if it wants to get back to the NCAA tournament, let alone defend its Pac-10 title. Coach Ben Howland spoke about Washington in his weekly press conference.
He mentioned that Jerime Anderson and Mike Roll were banged up a bit and that Reeves Nelson has the stomach flu. Howland praised Washington’s effort against the bay area schools and mentioned that Pondexter is arguably the best player in the league. Ben praised Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning as well. Mike Roll also spoke to the press and talked about the Washington as being an intense “Up and down game”. He praised Quincy as well.
ESPN’s Pat Forde is not buying into UW yet. Forde included the Dawgs along with UNC, UConn and Michigan (pretty good company) as “Four Who Have Faded Away” in his column today. Pat stated that, “Until Washington proves it can do anything away from home (0-4 headed for a Los Angeles road swing this week), this is an NIT team”.
Percy Allen took time out from his coverage of the current season to do a great profile on Tippy Dye, the legendary Husky coach that Coach Lorenzo Romar just passed for 3rd on the All-Time Washington Coaching Wins list. I have spoken about Tippy on numerous occasions with my former dentist Doug Smart, usually under anesthesia, but listened to his stories carefully.
Dye sounded like a great motivator and organizer that played the game the right way and taught his kids to be great people as well as competitors. Allen quoted Smart, as well as Husky Hall of Fame center Bob Houbregs and Romar and included more great quotes on his blog that paint a picture of a different era of basketball.
At a time when the game is filled with players that are athletes first and basketball players 2nd, the type of game that these guys in the 40’s and 50’s sounded more like the women’s game of today. These guys were tough though, don’t confuse my statement, probably tougher and more used to contact than most of the players of today, but they did not base their games on both ends of the court on play above the rim and on long distance shooting and fast breaking.
It was about team work, fundamentals, correct thinking with and without the ball and placement on the court. It may have been closer to baseball than to the game of today in its regimentation. I feel that there is a lot to be learned about that way of playing the game and that learning to play basketball correctly should start with learning that style of team play.
Learning how to catch the ball on offense, when to dribble and when to pass without putting the ball on the floor. The way a player is supposed to stand, when playing a zone and when playing man. Learning how to shoot free throws and block out after a shot. All of those guys in their funny shorts did a lot of things that are worth the attention of today’s player.
UW was #2 in both Oregon Live and Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic’s Pac-10 Power Rankings. Again I find these to be a bit ridiculous. Allen of the Times tempered his enthusiasm a bit by only vaulting the Dawgs from #10 to #3.
Mike Decourcy of Sporting News was more reserved in the bounce that he gave UW from their impressive home stand by putting them at the #5 spot, which is much more realistic of a turnaround in one week.
My apologies to the fine journalists that do these every week, but I feel that these Power Rankings should be an assessment of a team’s level of play based on opponent, venue and relative strength of the team. These should not change as much every week as they have if you have been watching these top-10’s go up and down like a bouncing ball.
On the Husky Hoop Honk Show on KJR-AM Radio, Eldridge Recasner apologized for some comments about Venoy Overton starting over Abdul Gaddy which we made reference to last week. Shortly after Lorenzo Romar called into the show and weighed in on how he felt about the media’s hot and cold shots at him and the players. Allen printed out what Lorenzo said.
“When you have the passion that you guys have for Husky basketball, you’re going to try to call it like you see it. I kind of personally have gotten hardened to the media a little bit. I just understand that if things don’t go well, you’re going to get blasted. If they go well, you’re going to be commended until they don’t go well enough, long enough and then you’re going to get blasted for that. I’ve kind of got hardened to it. But young people, they haven’t been around as long as I have and it can affect them.”
I understand how Romar feels, but part of being a major media figure regardless of your age, are the waves of opinions. Nobody is making these kids read these columns, message boards and listening to the radio shows and color commentators. If they get upset by it they should not listen to it. If they should not listen to it then it is either the coaches or their parents’ job to stop them from doing so.
I believe in freedom of the press and very minimal censorship. People need to make their own minds up as to what to watch, listen to or read, with all due respect to Coach Romar who I have said many times is the best coach overall that I’ve seen at Washington, including Tex Winter and Marv Harshman. No body’s perfect (least of all me), but I’m not going to treat UW and its players any differently than I would any other team’s players that I seek to analyze and criticize. I’m sorry that I disagree with the coach here.
Husky Recruiting Corner
2010 UW forward recruit Terrence Jones was named to the Nike Global Challenge USA Team. It is likely that the World Team will include 2010 UW center commit Enes Kanter.
A number of posters on message boards complained about Jones’ performance at the King Holiday Hoopfest being selfish, including Montlake Madness’ Josh Anderson. Josh did make the distinction that he still hopes that Jones signs with the Huskies. I respect Anderson’s opinion, but most of the opinions that I heard from people that I feel know hoops about Terrence’s performance were that he was very impressive and businesslike rather than selfish. I wish that I could give mine, but I was not at that event. I have seen Jones play and have been very impressed.
We’ll see who’s right in the coming years.
2010 UW prospect Dwayne Polee had a great event for two weeks in a row for Westchester High, this week at the Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield MA. Polee and team mate 2010 guard Jordan Mayes knocked off St Anthony’s. That big win over one of the elite programs in the nation, followed a big win last week over Oak Hill another factory school with a great argument for the top of the top in the prep ranks. According to our sources Mayes is not a UW recruit, but we are reasonably certain that Husky Assistant Coach Raphael Chillious was there in Springfield to see Polee.
Zag Legend Passes
Dan Fitzgerald, whose vision of Gonzaga basketball never came to fruition until right after his tenure as Head Coach passed in Spokane at the age of 67. Dan assembled the staff that took the team to its place today as the top mid-major in the NW. He was succeeded by Dan Monson, who left for the Minnesota head coaching job after a successful sprint into the national limelight.
Monson was replaced by another Fitzgerald assistant, Mark Few, who has been there since and has really taken GU to where it is today. Another Fitzgerald assistant was Few’s top assistant until taking the head coaching job at San Diego in the WCC. Fitzgerald will be sorely missed in the Spokane area where he is revered as the man who brought Gonzaga basketball to the top.
He left the Zags in 1997, but resurfaced as a public relations person for the huge Airway Heights Casino near the Spokane Airport in recent years.
Seattle U Beats CSUN 74-64
Seattle U beat Cal State Northridge 74-64 at the Key Arena on Tuesday night in Seattle. Again Charles Garcia scored well below his average with 13 points, but he led all players on the glass with 12. Garcia played 21 minutes, but was on the bench more than he might have been because of foul trouble. The Redhawks started a one guard line-up with Cervante Burrell, who led his team in scoring with 17 points.
Coach Cameron Dollar probably intended Garcia to be the other guard, as the other three starters were forwards Mike Boxley, Aaron Broussard (who scored 12) and Gavin Gilmore. Chris Gweth came off the bench to also score 12. The Redhawks out-rebounded the Matadors 43-29 in what was the most glaring statistic, but it was an effective team defense that to me kept CSUN’s big guns from doing much damage.
It was also the 3rd game since December 15 that Seattle has won with Garcia in a limited role and scoring below his average, while all of the other games have been lost. In addition Garcia has scored below his average in all but two of those nine games, win or lose. There may be a connection between Garcia having a big night and Seattle U’s success as a team, but there could also be a decent argument made that they two are not connected.
More Talk about OSU Coach and DePaul Job
Craig Robinson continues to not confirm or deny reports that he is a candidate for the DePaul job in his hometown of Chicago IL. Mike Tokito of the Oregonian made the point that the Beavers should learn from Washington State’s experience with Tony Bennett, whom they lost to Virginia and make a point to secure the 2nd year coach’s services for a much longer term.