Oregon State (6-6, 0-1) vs. Washington State (10-3, 0-1) / 4:00, Friel Court / TV on FSN NW
Two days removed from nearly mixing up the Pac-10 race on opening night, the Beavers head to Pullman today to challenge the Washington State Cougars-- a team that is just about as young as they come.
The youth starts with their head coach, Ken Bone, who is taking over for the departed Tony Bennett who now has the head job at Virginia. Bone, while a stranger to the Pac-10 conference, is no stranger to coaching in the Pacific Northwest, as he spent 13 years at Seattle Pacific where he accumulated an 189-74 record. There, he took the Falcons to the NCAA Tournament eight times, and kept that trend going during his four year tenure at Portland State, where he got the Vikings to the Big Dance on two occasions.
Three starters are gone off of last year's squad-- Aaron Baynes, Caleb Forrest, and Taylor Rochestie. Those three combined were responsible for over half of the Cougars' offensive production last season, averaging 33 points per game combined. Daven Harmeling, who started 18 games for WSU last season, also departs.
The loss of Rochestie from the frontcourt means one thing-- this is Klay Thompson's team now. Thompson, a 6-6 sophomore, has been leading the team with an average of 25 points per game this season, and turned in 33 points in Washington State's loss to Oregon on Thursday. Nineteen of those 33 points came from the free-throw line, where Thompson is shooting 80 percent. He was 90 percent from the line against the Ducks, only missing twice-- he was 19 of 21.
Just a little over a month into the season, it is easy to see that the addition of Ken Bone has helped Thompson a lot, along with the departure of WSU's other leading scorers from last season. Bone is finding ways to get the ball into his best player's hands, and Thompson is clearly the focal point of the offense.
Thompson is one of seven sophomores on a team that features just one upperclassman-- senior Nikola Koprivica. Eight freshmen are on this year's Cougar squad. WSU has the most underclassmen in the nation with 15. Harvard boasts 14, and the University of Central Florida and Toledo each have 13 apiece. The Cougars are also tied for the fewest amount of upperclassmen in the country as they and Saint Louis each have just one.
More after the break.
--Jake | (email@example.com)
The 6-6 DeAngelo Casto is emerging as Washington State's secondary threat behind Thompson, averaging twelve points per contest. He's a long and athletic big man who has been crashing the glass for a team high 7.5 rebounds per game, and blocks just over two shots per game, also a team high.
Reggie Moore is a 20-year old freshman who has had a big impact on the program already this season. Running the point and playing 30+ minutes per game, Moore has averaged 12 points and a team best 5 assists per game.
The 6-7 sophomore Abe Lodwick has started every game for the Cougars, sharing time with Serbia-native Nikola Koprivica. Koproviva plays more minutes and has more points per game (8) than Lodwick (3), but Lodwick has been a mainstay for Ken Bone in the starting lineup since day one.
Rounding out the Cougars' starting five is 6-4 sophomore Marcus Capers, who shoots a high percentage from the floor and is one of WSU's best rebounders.
Anyone who has at least watched highlights from Washington's 91-89 double overtime loss to Oregon on Thursday knows that the Cougars will be playing with a chip on their shoulder in today's game versus the Beavers. After DeAngelo Casto made a layup with 0.3 seconds remaining in the first overtime to give WSU a two point lead, the Cougars were called for a technical foul after bench players went onto the court. Tajuan Porter, who ended up scoring 18 points in the two overtime periods, made both of the free throws to send the game to a second overtime period, in which Oregon prevailed.
Cougar fans were outraged with the call, especially after Oregon players were seen on the court after committing a similar offense following a shot made in the second overtime period. Coug Center is all over the situation, and even dissected every aspect of the call.
There's no doubt that the Cougars will be desperate to win their first Pac-10 game on their home court after Thursday's heartbreaking loss. And you can bet that the Oregon State players are motivated by the fact that they very well could have beaten one of the best teams in the conference Thursday.
Keys to the game:
1. Play like Thursday, but... better: There was nothing wrong with the effort or anything like that in the Beavers' game with Washington on Thursday, they just didn't execute on plays they should have all throughout the game. The defense was good, the rebounding was okay, and the shooting percentage was definitely good enough to beat any team in the league. However, it's several poor decisions that led missed baskets on two or three occasions that cost the Beavers a huge upset win to start their season.
2. Limit Klay Thompson: There's no question that Klay is the leader of this team, so the Beavers need to disrupt him early. He's as able of a shooter when his shots are contested as when his feet are set, and he can score from anywhere on the court.
3. Rebound: The Cougars are very efficient on offense, and are playing faster than they did a year ago. That's why it will be important for the Beavers not to give the Cougars extra chances to score, just as was the case Wednesday against Washington. Again, the emphasis is on preventing offensive rebounds.
Again, the Cougar perspective is over at CougCenter.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org)