Two days after demolishing Gonzaga in Pullman, Ken Bone brings his Washington State Cougars to the Spokane Arena for a Friday Night showdown with the Texas-Pan American Broncs (I did not shorten that...that is how they spell it).
At first, the timing of this game seemed a bit odd, what with it being in Spokane while class is still in session. After giving it some thought, I realized that Fall graduation is on Saturday and Beasley is probably not fit for a basketball game. After giving it some more thought, I've decided that the scheduling here is nothing sort of genius.
The game is being played in Spokane, where it seems that time stops whenever Gonzaga is playing a big basketball game. On Wednesday, Spokanites got to watch as the Cougs demolished the Zags, and they saw one of the top players in the country have his best game. A lot of those diehard Bulldog fans might have decided it is worth their time to head over to Spokane Arena to see this team in person! Just like we all planned in the first place.
When previewing the Gonzaga game, which I thought would be more closely contested, I saw it necessary to preview all the "four factors" to decide which team would have the advantage.
That is not the case here. KenPom gives the Broncs a 1% chance of pulling out the victory tonight. WSU is ranked 32nd in his system, while UTPA is 303rd.
This one could get really ugly. The Broncs are a very, very bad offensive team. They have just a 45.4 eFG%. Put that together with a Cougar defense that is allowing their opponents just a 42.0 eFG% (17th best in the nation) and Spokane Arena, where everyone always seems to shoot poorly. I would be surprised if Texas-Pan American broke 50 tonight.
On the other end of the floor, expect the Cougs to have another hot shooting night (so long as the ghosts of Spokane Arena don't have their way). The performance against Gonzaga left WSU at 38% from three as a team, which is well above the national average of 33.9%. The Broncs are 331st in the country in defensive three point percentage, allowing 42.5%. With WSU likely to get into the upper 70s, this game should be won with ease.
UTPA Players to Watch
Even on teams as bad as UTPA (and there are worse teams, a lot of them, as KenPom projects them to go 7-5 in conference), there is always one player that stands out. For the Broncs, the player is not only recognized for his stellar play, but also for having an awesome name.
I'm talking about Perry Petty. You will quite often see guys with two first names, but Mr. Petty's parents decided they would buck the trend and name him "Perry" to ensure that he would have two last names.
In all seriousness, Petty can play. He takes a high volume of shots with a 28.0 shot percentage. That doesn't stop him from being effective, as he has posted a 106.4 ORtg and a 52.6 eFG%. Standing at 6'1", one would think Petty gets most of his points from the outside. This is not the case. He is shooting a ridiculous 61.4% on two-pointers while only hitting 26.8% of his threes. He also a very impressive 14.0 defensive rebounding percentage. I've never seen this kid pay, but my guess is that he is strong and very athletic.
Completing a very good backcourt duo is junior Aaron Urbanus. He has been very efficient, scoring 1.25 points per possession used. He ranks 25th in the country in eFG%, shooting at 68.8 clip. Urbanus has been fantastic from the outside, knocking down 51.1% of his threes.
The problem for UTPA is that their best players are small guards. WSU has some very good and very tall guys like Marcus Capers and Klay Thompson to put on them. Overall, size will likely be an issue for the Broncs, as their top four guys in Min% are all 6'3" and under. The next tallest player who gets significant minutes, Matt Mierzycki, is 6'6".
One last player that could have a big impact on this game for the Broncs is 6'7" forward Ruben Cabrera. Some of you might look at his 35.8 minute percentage and say that is impossible for him to have that much of an effect. However, in those few minutes he plays each night, this young man is the center of attention. He does two things: foul and get fouled. He is being called for 6.5 fouls per 40 minutes while drawing 7.0. He has an outstanding 91.2 FT rate. Basically, when Cabrera checks into the game you should expect it to slow down to a snail's pace.
The Cougs win, by a lot. These are the types of teams that Brock Motum shoots 80% against. Klay Thompson should have another awesome night on the offensive end playing against shorter guards. He eats them up like they are a delicious combination of peanut butter and chocolate. I also have a good feeling about Patrick Simon.