6 PM PST -- Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum
Kenpom.com prediction: WSU 60-58 (57 possesions, 59 percent confidence)
I'll make this quick: If the Cougs deal well with the press tonight, they probably win. If they don't they most certainly lose. It's really that simple.
Do we have any reason to believe they'll deal well with it? I don't know. I keep thinking this team has the ability to cope, and then they don't. I mean, at every stage of this season, this team has faied to survive a competent press -- and sometimes it hasn't even taken a competent press (see Gonzaga, Washington). They didn't even really deal well with it in the final few minutes against UCLA.
Is there any cause for hope? I actually do have one. If you remember, I wrote a fairly lengthy post some time ago on why the Cougs struggle so much against a press, and how they could potentially do better at beating one. The main idea: To beat a press, you have to embrace attacking it, and everytime the Cougs have faced one, they've been passive and reluctant to attack. In essence, they've played too slow.
So, why am I at least somewhat hopeful tonight might be different? A curious comment from Vince Grippi -- a guy who watches practice everyday:
Arizona wants the pace to be as fast as possible tonight. It might be faster than they think.
This backs up a comment from Bennett earlier this week in the wake of the UCLA game where he said maybe the Cougs should turn it up a little bit at times, that it was part of the reason they were successful. Translation: Don't be surprised if they try to push the tempo a little bit tonight.
I don't think the Cougs want to try and outgun the Wildcats, but I have the distinct feeling that they're going to embrace a philosophy tonight that allows them to effectively combat Arizona's zone. I hope I'm right.