As far as Saturday's game goes, I have mixed emotions and a couple of major concerns.
#1. Washington gets to the stripe way too often. I watched them closely last week against the Arizona schools and it seemed to me that there was a huge disparity in the way they got calls to go their way. We don't get to the foul line all that much anyway, so to me this is a huge factor in their favor.
#2. Washington gets away with murder on defense. I remember back to our first meeting at the end of the game when Caleb Forrest took a swipe at #44, Darnell Gant. I thought he had good reason to, although he shouldn't have done it. If the officials allow Washington to get away with those muggings we aren't physical enough to overcome it.
Arizona should have beaten Washington going away. Jordan Hill had a huge advantage over Brockman and Pennell didn't take advantage of it. Hill should have had 20+ at half against that single-team, non-factor defense Brockman was attempting to play. When Arizona got up by 10 in the second half, they didn't get the ball inside to Hill at all. Huge coaching mistake. They let Washington back in it way too fast. In other words, Arizona played right into Washington's strengths.
If, and it's a big one, Baynes gets the same type of attention from Brockman, we need to attack it relentlessly. Jon's the weakness of their D. Washington's strength is with their overall athleticism. We can't match it but we can outplay them, and if Tony pays attention, he can exploit them. But the players have to execute the plan.
We need to get off to a decent start. It has to be close at half and we have to stay out of foul trouble. Baynes has to be ultra careful he doesn't get a bunch of ticky-tack calls against him. That means he has to make those little 5-footers so he doesn't get over the back calls when he tries for the offensive rebound. Aron is a huge key for us.
Casto will probably get tons of court time because he matches up well with their front-court players. He could have a huge game if Washington concentrates on Baynes too much. Baynes has to play smarter than he normally does to find an open shooter when they double him and be ready when Casto is doubled. They feed off each other. Defensively, they are great at clogging the middle and denying shots. Probably the best 1-2 shot-blockers I've seen all year. Baynes is an impressive force on D with a very long reach. Casto has extraordinary jumping ability and timing. He's going to be a great NBA player. Once he develops his offensive game a little more, he will dominate in college, probably as a junior at the latest.
We didn't match up well with Washington's guards the first game. Capers is the difference now. If he can handle the offense it will allow Taylor and Klay to be more effective. I don't know how Washington will choose to guard them. Probably have Dentmon on Klay is my guess because he guarded Budinger, which was another huge mismatch Arizona failed to capitalize on. The officials let Dentmon get away with murder away from the ball. It was really sad to see the Pac-10 officials have allowed that sort of play. Dentmon is not a very good defender, he relies on others to cover his ass when he gets beat off the dribble.
If Isaiah Thomas is allowed to guard Taylor, Taylor should have a decent chance at putting up some big numbers. IT is not a very good defender yet, but he is quick. Overton is their best defender, so maybe he guards Taylor and IT guards Capers. Maybe even put Overton on Klay. Taylor would eat Dentmon alive. There's a lot of possibilities but the bottom line is that we have to play smart and as a team and not let their pressure take us out of the game mentally.
The first five to ten minutes will tell me how the game might end up playing out. What I would really like to see is us attack them and their pressure tactics relentlessly, take the fight to them, be the aggressors. That works on a number of levels. We're capable of doing it and proved it against Ucla and Arizona. The officials usually respect the more aggessive team. It will also catch Washington off balance. They don't expect us to play that way. I think we can get a ton of easy baskets by attacking any press they put on us. With Brockman as their last line of defense, Baynes, Casto, and Forrest should be able to take advantage of that. Brockman is a very average defender, his best move being a flop. Attack the rim, force him to exert all his energies at the defensive end, and he becomes less effective on offense.
Probably the most crucial thing we have to do in any phase of the game is block out on the defensive glass. If we let QP and the rest of them control the glass it will negate our overall defensive effectiveness. Our perimeter D has been pretty solid lately. I'd rather take our chances with Dentmon and Thomas from beyond the arc than I would letting Pondexter into the paint where him and Brockman will eat us alive on the glass if we don't put a body on them.
I would like to see someone deal with Dentmon the very first time he enters the paint with that shoulder move of his. If the officials allow him to initiate that much contact, we should deal with it by being more physical in return. It's one of the most rediculous moves I have seen and he gets away with it way too much. We have to keep him and Thomas out of the paint. We can't afford to let them penetrate because it will allow their big guys to control the glass.
Keys to the first half - Stay close and stay out of foul trouble and attack their pressure. They can't guard everyone if we attack them. If we play slow-ball and just try to run down the shot clock, it works against us. I think we can get Brockman in foul trouble immediately if Baynes plays smart and takes what's given. I like the high-post offense we've been running with Casto at the stripe. He's quick enough to get to the basket, just wish he had a mid-range jumper in his arsenal too. Forrest has the jumper but not the quickness to get to the hoop. Combine the two and you have what Casto should be like in a couple years. I like Forrest better when he's roaming the baseline. He isn't a very good rebounder though, Casto is much better.
I'm scared that Dentmon makes too many threes. He's been pretty solid from the arc all season, just been in a three game slump. Would love to see it four. IT can shoot pretty good from there so we have to keep an eye on both but also keep them from penetrating. I don't think it's going to talk a hurculean task on D to stay in it. We always play good D against just about everyone. It's what we do offensively that matters most. Limit the turnovers and unforced errors. Get good shots every possession possible. Attack their pressure. Stay out of the traps and pass to the open man. Limit the dribbling. Make them work their asses off on D and frustrate them with rediculously easy looks. Take the crowd out of the game by doing those things. Just play good, smart, solid Cougar basketball.
Notice I haven't said anything about Taylor or Klay on offense so far? It's because if we just play good ball, their shots will take care of themselves in the overall flow of the game. If each gets 15 good solid looks they should make 12 or more of them collectively. The more good looks from three the better. If we try to force it to them every possession they won't be as effective. I've noticed lately we've been getting better spacing, hence better ball movement. Washington can't guard everyone.
No matter what everyone says about their D, and it's pretty darn good, it has major weaknesses in it. I never worry too much about our D, it's usually there. Klay has become a stopper. Against Arizona, he shut Budinger out in the second half. Against ASU, we shut down Pendergraph for the whole second half too. POY candidate James Harden didn't hurt us at all for the most part and Klay was just one reason why. It's a struggle against us for the most part and we don't seem to get much recognition in that area, even though it's well deserved.
It's all about perception. Brockman gets Pac-10 POW award but gives up 24 to Pendergraph and 27 to Hill. I'd much rather have Baynes on my side. Pendergraph got 8 and Hill got 15, that's a significant difference and we have to exploit Brockman to the fullest. Brockman is not a good defender if we can get him into a one-on-one with Baynes. It's a total mismatch. That's why I advocate attacking their press relentlessly. Put Brockman on an island with Baynes and Casto and we win if the refs don't reward the 'Brockman Flop.'
In summary, it's our style on offense and how effective we attack their pressure that will dictate the winner of this one. Plus, we need to make sure the green SB jersey is somewhere in the building. Go Cougs!!!