Well, that bubble you just heard popping was the confidence level of the WSU Cougs fans. The players will be fine; they know how good they really are. But those wagoning (forget the band, we are talking the Palouse here) Coug fans that act like winning is somehow their birthright, when really going to Wazzou has always been about nothing less than a pathetic mediocrity with a sporadic dose of Craig Ehlo (Kyle Weaver is really just Craig Ehlo with braids) thrown in.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program: How Freaking About Those Cardinal Brothers And Sisters! Can I Get A Witness! Can you spell 7-2, 18-3! Even Teejers is getting excited now! I wasn't able to see, much like the rest of you, the Washington game, but a blow out on the road is a blow out on the road and there aren't very folks go in to Hec Ed and walk out with resounding wins. We controlled tempo in that one and ran our stuff well, regardless of what defense the puppies were in. When we do that, we win these days. And credit Mitch for playing a more settled down game in Seattle than he has previously.
Moving on to the Cougs. There was a lot of talk in Bootleg land before the game about the Cougs woeful shooting percentage defense in conference. Well, when we shoot 45% for a game that is some bad shooting percentage defense. Maybe they don't guard shooters like they used to in Pullman, but they still play very solid defense and they doubled down on Brook very effectively. But something tells me that if Ivory Clark were still on the floor that Taj Finger wouldn't have been getting dive cut lay-ins. Taylor Rochestie may dribble the ball a lot, but Ivory Clark made them a better team.
Mitch Johnson had nine points, four assists, and four of the worst looking passes for turnovers that I have ever seen. Two great offensive moves: (1) a floater in the first half off what is becoming a pretty standard Mitch move: the old split the double team, drive left, spin move to the paint, and (2) the drive right pull up in your face and stick the 17 foot jumper in the second half. Both moves came when we really needed a bucket and they were both like lightning bolts they were so consistent with his game. Seriously, outside Friel Court cows were lifting off. Anyway, I thought Mitch played with great confidence in this game. Until he went to the free throw line late. I don't know what to say about those free throws. There is work left to be done there, but I guess Kyle Weaver barfed a lung there as well, sooooooo…
Mitch, solid defense game on Rochestie for the most part. Frankly, Rochestie just wasn't that impressive. 3-10 from the floor, missing some easy shots and blew the big one. I thought both point guards just sort of did their thing, neither one really imposing their will on the other. Rochestie really didn't force any of Mitch's turnovers, he sort of let Mitch play his game. Frankly, I thought Mitch outplayed him on the basis of Mitch's eight rebounds. Rochestie had three steals, but Wazzou doesn't convert steals into quick points very often and they pack the defense in so tight that their steal numbers are meaningless-sort of like defensive rebounds really. Color me not impressed.
Anthony Goods, well…Anthony looked very good in a sweatsuit.
Fred Washington played another Fred Washington type game: Very good defense over all and solid ball handling again. Only one bucket, but it came off an offensive rebound (and Fred got six boards). He really made Low work hard and they run Low through a ton of screens. Low is too good a shooter to stink two games in a row. But I think this was one of those games where if we don't have a Fred playing great defense on him he goes huge on us. With Anthony down, we simply were one defender short on the perimeter and it showed in the defense Kenny and Landry were unable to play on Weaver and Low. Fred did a good job on Weaver as well. But, I think I saw Fred do a very good job of moving the ball on offense, quick passes, seeing the floor ahead of time and not letting the ball stop in his hands very long. Ball movement is key for us and I thought Fred really was improved in this aspect of the game, just moving the ball with purpose and make the defense slide and slide and slide.
I thought Kenny Brown got eaten alive Saturday. But if you are going to be eaten alive by Kyle Weaver, what the hell, bomb a three, too. That reminds the other team why you are out there and that they better stretch the floor to get to you. In fairness, the refs bailed Kyle Weaver out on about five plays in this game where the defense was solid, he was initiating contact looking for a foul, and he got one instead of getting his weak stuff blocked. Fred, Law and Kenny all got hit with fouls on pretty damn solid defense. 19 free throws is ridiculous. Bail out city. However, I didn't think Kenny gave in, particularly giving him enough ground. Make Weaver a jump shooter, bait him into it. Don't let him be a driver. Law was better at this, but then Law has to back off to keep from getting blown by and he is about 6'11" when his arms are outstretched. Back to Mitch, I thought Mitch did a good job of making Rochestie a jump shooter and the result was 30% shooting and a lot of tentativeness from Rochestie as to whether to shoot or keep looking.
Some Final Thoughts: I don't care what people say, we got two wins in the People's Republic of Washington and we controlled the tempo of both games with our defense, our patience and ball movement on offense. All of the perimeter players deserve credit for controlling tempo and grinding on the opponents. Washington flat broke down defensively and went to a zone-which is just another way of saying we give up. If you make this Wazzou team play defense, they just aren't as good at it as they were last year. I thought our ball movement against Wazzou in our half court offense was markedly improved, and if you don't believe me watch the barf-fest of ball movement we had last year in the Palouse. Night and day.
Law Hill, way to step up and start playing with selfishness again. Looking for your shots, being aggressive. Sometimes you need to be selfish and just look to shoot the ball when you are shooter. Law did this in this game; he took shots that he simply has been passing on earlier in the year. He was hitting dead bottom of the net on a few of those threes. Those were sexy, weren't they?
Finally, I know I have said this before, but what the hell are official scorers looking at this year? Robin Lopez had three blocked shots in this game and they were all obvious. And I am not talking about the bad goaltending call. Exactly what the hell is the point of an official scorer if they can't do the job? By the way, rumor has it that Robin's huevos rancheros were given their own seat on the flight back and they got extra pretzels from the stewardesses.
Final Final Thought: How did Brook miss 12 shots in that game? My memory is admittedly weak, but 12 misses? And I guess Aron Baynes now officially stinks. Or is he just out of his league playing Anderson, Lopez, Lopez and here comes that Love guy again. Hamstring injury anyone? Anyone think Jon Brockman misses Spencer Hawes. The Huskies gave up 64 points and 30 rebounds this weekend to Anderson and Lopez. Yeeesh!
And now on to the winter duck hunting season. Payback is a mother!