WSU BASKETBALL: This Team Has A Long Way To Go, Via Cougar Sports Weekly

At the halfway point of the basketball season, the standings suggest the Cougs are just a game or two away from being in the upper half of the conference -- sitting at 3-6, they're just two behind fifth place Arizona, UCLA and Stanford. Darn you, losses to Utah and Arizona State!

However, there's a growing pile of evidence to suggest that those two losses actually were an accurate reflection of this team's level of play and not some kind of fluke occurrence. Are ASU and Utah better than WSU on a neutral floor? Probably not. But on the road ... yeah, WSU isn't enough better to overcome that against even the worst teams in the conference.

To what do I owe this conclusion? An analysis of the efficiency margin of each team in the conference in today's Cougar Sports Weekly, something that does not flatter WSU. After some analysis of why the defense is so bad, it led me to an outside-the-box conclusion:

The question then becomes whether it's reasonable to expect the defense to improve much over the rest of the season. Honestly, I'm not sure. If coaching really is part of this, then Bone could just decide to go crazy emphasizing defense. He also could make some personnel tweaks, giving more minutes to guys such as DJ Shelton and Dexter Kernich-Drew. Shelton screws up -- a lot -- in terms of being where he's supposed to be, but he's tall and athletic and does alter shots. And Kernich-Drew is long and active.

However, instead of focusing on the defense -- really, how much defense can you teach in a short amount of time? -- I wonder if the best solution might not just be to go with extra offense. I'm thinking, in particular, of drastically reducing the role of Marcus Capers, whose value as a defender is probably overstated by most fans anyway.

If the defense is horrible with him in there for 30 minutes a night, and he's not giving you anything offensively, why not replace him with someone who could potentially at least score? How much worse can the defense get, really?

If you want to read all 1,400 words -- plus my roundup of the Pac-12 in general and all the non-revenue Cougar sports -- you'll have to subscribe, which you can do here. It's just $1.99 a month and you'll have immediate access to our archives. And if you've been pondering a subscription but haven't taken the leap yet, this week's a great time to do it: Rather than the three newsletters I normally send out in a week, you're going to get five this week as I blow out the recruiting coverage. I'll start on Tuesday with my preview of signing day.

If you've never seen a Cougar Sports Weekly, shoot me an email at admin(at)cougarsportsweekly(dot)com and I'll send you a complimentary copy of today's newsletter. I'm confident you're going to like it.

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