The most often quoted statistic about Washington State is that it leads the nation in scoring defense. Much of this is related to its slow tempo. According to kenpom.com, Washington State ranks 333rd out of 341 Division I teams at about 60 possessions per 40 minutes. Adjusted for opposition, the Cougars defensive efficiency is good at 87.5 points per 100 possessions, putting them 17th in the nation. However, its offensive efficiency is equally good at an adjusted rate of 116 points per 100 possessions, also 17th in the nation. Washington State became a top team when it made a huge leap in offensive efficiency. Under Coach Dick Bennett, the Cougars played at a similarly slow pace and ranked highly in adjusted defensive efficiency (1st in 2005 and 7th in 2006), but was very poor on offense. In 2005 and 2006, its adjusted offensive efficiency was 94.5 and 95.3, not good enough to rank in the top 250 in Division I. In 2007, Tony Bennett's WSU improved its adjusted offensive efficiency to 112.6 and the offense has taken another step forward this season.
In 2007-08, Washington State's losses have come when its defense has failed. In its losses to UCLA, Arizona, and Cal, WSU gave up at least 117 points per 100 possessions for the only times this season. The Cougars did not lose control of tempo in those games as the UCLA game had a Cougar season high of 64 possessions only because the WSU used eight possessions in the last 100 seconds in a desperate comeback attempt. Unfortunately for Stanford, the Cardinal has only cracked an offensive rating of 117 in one Pac-10 game so far and that was against Cal, next to last in defensive efficiency in the conference. If Stanford wins by its usual method of suffocating defense, it will be a new method of losing for the Cougars.
The main part of WSU's offensive efficiency is its high effective field goal percentage of 55.9%, good for 8th in the country. There are shot charts for all Cougar games because WSU has been ranked all season. The data in the shot charts do not exactly match total statistics, revealing some shot charting error, but the overall trends should be unbiased. As with Arizona and Oregon, forcing teams to shoot two-point jumpers is the desired strategy. Washington State is pretty good on those two-point jumpers, shooting 45%, but it is not nearly enough to offset the extra credit a team gets for being behind the arc. In the following table, percentages are effective field goal percentages that weigh made three-pointers an extra 50%.
|Layups and Dunks||2 Pt Jumpers||3 Pointers|
The individual items that stand out are Kyle Weaver's struggles finishing around the basket and Davon Harmeling's failure to go to the basket. Harmeling also has only taken eight jumpers from within the key and has made only two of them. Taylor Rochestie also struggles with jumpers in the key, making only 2-of-15. Nearly to a man, the Cougars shoot two-point jumpers better from the left side of the key than the right side of the key. The exception to this is Aron Baynes. Here is his shot breakdown as he has only taken two-pointers. Baynes will be in for a challenge Saturday against the Lopez twins if his effectiveness is as limited to certain areas as the shot chart data indicates.
|Aron Baynes||FGM||FGA||Effective FG%|
|Layups and Dunks||43||66||65%|
|Jumpers Directly in Front||4||5||80%|
|Right Half of Key||10||22||46%|
|Left Half of Key||5||17||29%|
|Right of Key||14||21||67%|
|Left of Key||5||10||50%|
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