Here's an excerpt from the latest Cougar Sports Weekly, sent to subscribers last night:
One of the really cool side effects of the Bennett era at WSU is that most Cougar fans now have a healthy appreciation for the role of defense on the basketball court. Consequently, there was a fair amount of hand wringing over at CougCenter (and I'm assuming elsewhere) in the immediate wake of Monday's loss to Gonzaga -- a game in which the Bulldogs scored 1.22 points per possession (1.00 is average) thanks to 13 threes, including a stunning nine by freshman Kevin Pangos.
So, I re-watched the game today to try and get a sense of what happened. WSU played three distinctly different half-court defenses in the game, in addition to the transition opportunities for Gonzaga, and it's pretty clear where the Cougars' major weakness was on this day.
It's interesting, because when a team is bombing away from three, it's generally assumed to be a problem with zone defense. But WSU played a basic 2-3 zone on just six possessions, and five of them were in the first four minutes of the game. They switched to exclusive man-to-man for the rest of the first half except for the final possession before halftime.
It didn't work -- at least, not where it matters most. Here's a breakdown of the points per possession in each type of defense.