Pac-10 Tourney Report

Los Angeles, CA – Walking into the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles is something to behold. Bronze statues of Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Jerry West, Oscar De La Hoya, and of course Chick Hearn greet you as you gaze at the stories of glass and curved iron beams.

Watching the first game today between Stanford and Oregon State was entertaining, but at the same time kind of troubling. Both teams looked horrendous, prompting me to wonder just how did the Washington Huskies lose to both of these teams?

Stanford's offense looked abysmal, and only the second half hot shooting of Jeremy Green, the 6-4 junior guard, kept the Cardinal in the game. Oregon State wasn't much better but Jared Cunningham turned out to be the difference for the Beavers as they fought their way into the second round and a date with top-seeded Arizona.

The second contest of the evening pitted the Oregon Ducks against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Ducks were clearly the superior team as they moved out to a 20-point advantage early in the second half. Arizona State's zone defense was an enigma to me, as it seemed to rotate ball help AWAY from the ball, thus freeing up Oregon's shooters for nice looks from three range, and the Ducks bombed away. The Sun Devils clawed back to within six, but let's face it; this team will never be confused for an offensive juggernaut. They just don't have the offense to compete.

Oregon had zero post presence outside of Joevan Catron, but he was enough it turns out. Oregon is small and doesn't handle the ball that well when pressured, which again made me wonder why Matthew Bryan-Amaning didn't have a monster game against the Ducks.

Which brings me full circle. Which Husky team is going to show up tomorrow night and face the Washington State Cougars?

WSU head coach Ken Bone and assistant Jeff Hironaka were in the crowd tonight. Hironaka is an absolute hoops junkie and looked in his element. Bone chatted amicably and looked both relaxed and confident. Clearly he likes going into this match up, knowing he's beaten the Huskies twice already this season.

This wasn't the Husky team that was supposed to be here. Abdul Gaddy would be running the point and Venoy Overton would've come in as the defensive spark and sped the game up when it needed it.

Neither one of those guys will be in uniform tomorrow. The Huskies are forced to go with a rotation that will have only three guards in it: Isaiah Thomas at the point guard, Scott Suggs and CJ Wilcox at the two-guard position.

For most schools, going three-deep at guard is enough. However for a team that depends so much on defense to create their offense, it is light. For one, Thomas will wear down at the point. He will probably play close to 40 minutes tomorrow night, running the point, taking the ball up the floor, and playing defense on Faisel Aden.

I can see Romar going to more zone defense than he ever has this year in this contest, just to give Isaiah a chance to catch his breath a little bit.

Suggs is playing the best ball of perhaps anyone on the team at the current time, and his ball handling and defense have really improved. He will need to have a big game and knock down his open shots when they come. He is shooting with great confidence right now.

Wilcox had a great night against UCLA but cooled against the Trojans two nights later. When he gets a chance to shoot over the WSU zone he'll face tomorrow, he needs to bury them. He has to shoot with reckless abandon because there is no one coming off the bench that can shoot like he can when he's on. He needs to take 7 three-point shots and sink four of them.

At forward, it's hard to say what the Huskies will get because Justin Holiday suffered a concussion. How much he can contribute will be a game-time decision. If he can go full bore, he will draw the defensive assignment on Klay Thompson most likely. Thompson will undoubtedly get his points but someone needs to make sure he works hard to get them. That someone will hopefully be Holiday. Offensively you can't really count on much from Justin, as his shot has completely deserted him. Suggs needs to get his shots.

If Holiday cannot go or if his minutes are curtailed due to his injury, Terrance Ross will step into a very bright spotlight. The freshman swing-player from Portland hasn't hit many shots in his last eight games and has seen his minutes limited as a result. That goes out the window with such a tight rotation. He now needs to play without caution and shoot the way he was in the first half of the season.

Darnell Gant will need to play good defense on Brock Motum. He is a guy that can kill the Huskies if he's left unguarded. Gant may need to knock down a shot or two if Suggs and Wilcox heat up from the outside. They will draw doubles and helps, thus Gant will be the one left with the open looks.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas need to show up. MBA needs to take it to DeAngelo Casto and score when he gets decent looks as well as rebound. He cannot miss so many bunnies in the paint. He and Aziz N'Daiye will both defend Casto but let's face it – Aziz struggles with quick guys and Casto will eat his lunch if the Huskies stick with that match up for too long. And Thomas needs to find his confidence. His face is plastered all over the Staples Center as he is one of four players shown on the posters that have been posted all over LA Live. It is time to show why his physique adorns that poster. He needs to shoot and drive with confidence. His effort is never in question, nor is his heart. Now it's time to show his talent, pure and simple. Show up and be you, Isaiah. Your team will follow your lead.

I think the recipe for tomorrow will be for the Huskies to play a zone base defense with occasional switches to man-to-man. With the depth issues, particularly at the point, I just see no other way.

If the Cougars are on from three-point range, it will be a long evening for the Huskies. I'm predicting that they won't be on, and that Scott Suggs will score 16 points in leading the Huskies to a three-point win.

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