We've been so swept up with football fever the last few days -- it seriously feels so good to say that! -- we've basically ignored WSU's season-opening domination of Southern. Part of that also has to do with the fact that it wasn't on TV, so most of us didn't see it. But I do have some thoughts from just looking at the box score and listening to Bud on the radio, and I want to get this out before the fellas take on Idaho tonight.
Bullet points, in no particular order. (If any of these fancy stats confuse you, remember to take a moment and read this.)
- The Cougs flat dominated Southern on the glass -- 45.3 OR%, 85.1 DR%. While that OR% is good, it isn't ridiculously good. That DR%, however, is -- bigger than anything the team put together last year. A dominating performance is to be expected against a team like Southern, which was one of the worst rebounding teams in the NCAA last year, so I wouldn't read too much into it, other than this: Patrick Simon and Brock Motum combined for nine defensive rebounds in 36 minutes. Time will tell if that had more to do with Simon and Motum or Southern, but it's encouraging nonetheless.
- Speaking of Motum, he was DeAngelo Casto's backup at the 5, playing 24 minutes. Charlie Enquist played nine minutes. I think we see what the plan is there. And I like it.
- Looking at the rotation, eight guys played 10 minutes or more. When you consider Reggie Moore didn't play, you'd think that means Ken Bone wants to go nine deep with this team. I don't think he does. Klay Thompson played 33 minutes in the blowout and Marcus Capers played 30. You figure a few of Capers' minutes go to Moore, a few of Aden's minutes go to Moore and most of Dre Winston's 22 minutes go to Moore. Then take into account Casto played only 16 minutes after not starting, and figure that number is generally going to be closer to 30. To me, it looks like he's still going to ride his horses, although to a slightly lesser degree than last year.
- Although a 20 percent turnover rate is too high, I'm not concerned too much about it. Believe it or not, WSU actually had a +.58 correlation between turnover rate and offensive efficiency -- in other words, turnovers really didn't have much of an impact on our overall ability to score. (Technically, you would conclude that it meant the more we turn it over, the more we score, but we know that's not true.) Of course, you want something lower than 20 percent, but it's not a killer. And sometimes when a higher TO rate can come from pushing the ball, which can actually lead to increased overall offensive efficiency (perhaps a logical explanation for the correlation).
What coaches want to eliminate are the dumb turnovers where you just give the ball away. Sounds like there were some of those on Saturday, and they're correctable -- both through increased focus and adding Moore back into the mix. Moore was prone to turnovers last year, but you figure that will improve, and I'd rather have him making decisions than other players who don't generally have the ball in their hands.
- This team was unusually reliant on shooting for its offensive efficiency last year (+.87 correlation to eFG%), which was a bit of a problem because the team didn't have many shooters. (The result was the chart you saw on Thompson's profile.) With the emergence of Motum and the additions of Aden and Simon, this team looks completely different in that respect. These guys posted a stellar 58.3 eFG% with Aden, Simon and Thompson combing to go 4-of-17 from 3. That's not going to happen very often.
- WSU allowed just 33.9 eFG%. That's awesome. But without seeing the game, I'm not making any sweeping conclusions about the defense. It sounded like this was a tired Southern team -- remember, they got blasted by Gonzaga the night before -- that was settling for a lot of quick jumpers. I'll reserve judgement until I see them play.
- WSU's three main guards -- Capers, Thompson and Aden -- combined to go 14-of-19 on 2-point shots. That's awesome and much more important than what they did or didn't do from 3.
- Winston played 22 minutes at the point against perhaps the worst defense he'll see all year and posted this line: 0 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 steals, 2 fouls. That is not awesome. I'll give him some more time to adjust before I make any proclamations, but this is not encouraging.
- Capers had 15 rebounds. Ten of those were defensive. That's incredible for a 6-4 guard, competition be darned. There's probably no grand takeaway from it, but it's certainly worthy of recognition. What is worth noting going forward is the five offensive rebounds. That's obviously not sustainable, but his ability to crash the offensive glass can add value to the offense.
- Casto scored 16 points on just five shots. This makes me smile.
- Casto had zero blocks. Aden had 3. This is why you avoid reading too much into one game.