WSU Vs. Western Oregon: A First Look At The Wolves

Washington State gets back to the court after a week off for finals as they take on Western Oregon today at 4:35 pm Pacific Time. Western Oregon is a NCAA Division II school. In the past, Division I teams have not scheduled Division II schools, as I assume the games were not counted towards postseason qualifcation. I cannot find anything on a rule change, but this year has seen an increase in the number of Division II and NAIA opponents impacting Division I overall records and statistics. This game today will not be an exhibition match for WSU (Unlike their opening game against Lewis and Clark State), it does affect their season record and all numbers tallied in the game will count towards the players' totals.

With that, I feel it is my obligation to give Western Oregon a proper, albeit shortened, preview.

On offense, the Wolves' two most important players are senior guards Blair Wheadon and Kyle Long. Wheadon is the most efficient scorer of the two, posting a 59 eFG% and a 108 offensive efficiency rating while using 26% of the possessions and shooting 23% of the shots while he is on the floor. He is a good shooter, knocking down half of his three point attempts and 90% of his free throws. Long takes his share of threes, but works much more inside the arc than Wheadon. He leads the team in possession usage at 29% and shot percentage at 25%. Overall, he is hurting the Wolves by taking such a huge role. His offensive efficiency rating is just 89 and his eFG% is at 49.

As a team, Western Oregon has done very well on the offensive end, scoring 1.11 points per possession. They've been decent at grabbing their own misses, posting a 35 OR%. They've taken care of the basketball well, with a 19 TO%, but don't get to the free throw line much, with just 33 free throw attempts per 100 field goal attempts. Led by Long, Wheadon, and Kolton Nelson, they have shot the three well, hitting 40% of their attempts. Still, the three is not a huge part of their offensive attack as it only accounts for 28% of their FGA and 26% of their total points.

On defense, the Wolves have been fairly stout, allowing just 0.93 points per possession to their opponents limiting them to a 46 eFG%. They've done about an average job on the glass, allowing teams to grab 32% of offensive rebounds. Turnovers have been important, as they've forced the opposition into giving the ball away on 24% of their possessions. 46% of opponents' field goal attempts have come from beyond the arc, so it would seem that Western Oregon plays a lot of zone and packs in the middle.

Of course the one large caveat is that all of these numbers cannot be taken for face value. They have been compiled against a schedule consisting of Division II and NAIA schools. Scoring 1.11 points per possession against that is not nearly the same as 1.11 against Division I teams. A drop in shooting percentages, rebounding percentages a rise in turnovers is to be expected when they face a Pac-12 school with bigger, stronger, and faster athletes.

Western Oregon is a good Division II school, they have won nine in a row and look to contend for their conference title. Still, there will be a talent gap large enough in this game that allows WSU to win easily.

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