Exhale. Slowly. Get your heart rate down. We won. And, in the end, that's all that really matters.
Of course, I was cursing up a storm at the TV most of the game. 19 turnovers is just unacceptable. That pack line defense was causing all kinds of trouble for the Ducks as the Cougs were collapsing on all penetration most of the game and getting lots of steals in the passing game. 14 of the 19 turnovers were steals, which means that WSU was getting a lot of easy baskets in transition. Add to that 10 blocked shots, which are almost as good as a turnover, and it was easy to see why the Cougs were thrashing the Ducks early on.
But give the Ducks credit. They were playing poorly offensively, shooting like crap, and Derrick Low was ON FIRE. But they played tough D and managed to hang around within striking distance. If they could ever just put together a run and keep Low from killing them for a few minutes, they might have a chance to get into the game. And it happened, but it seemed like maybe too late. Then Brooks hit a three from Idaho, and I turned to my wife:
"That's it. The Ducks are going to win this one."
It didn't matter that they were still down two. Then Low hit another three and my faith waivered a bit. Then with Maarty at the line, keeping in mind he hadn't made anything all game and he had to wait several minutes to even take the shots due to the referees reviewing the play, I thought for sure we had lost. Then OT, where I thought we had won, then starting shaking again.
Basically, the Ducks really didn't play that well offensively. They looked terrible most of the game, and credit Wazzu's defense for that. And even though the Ducks were playing pretty good D for the most part, Low was absolutely unconscious. We're just lucky we were playing WSU. They found a way to Coug it. But WSU forced the Ducks into bad offense for most of the game. They controlled most of that game. The Ducks were just able to pull some big three pointers and free throws out of their hat, and pulled out another close one. So, the bogged down offense gets a free pass this time.
- Any doubt who the Pac-10 player of the year is? Compare Thursday to today, and it looks more and more like there is an asterisk on Thursday's game (and if that games ends up costing us the league title, I'm gonna be pissed). This is just a different team with Brooks. I mean, he hit that must have three from the Sawtooth Mountains. Played the whole game with only two turnovers. 31 points. Eight boards. MVP is THE MAN. You'd think his name was Luke.
- Maarty Leunen didn't do crap offensively all game. Zero points, and two free throws with the game on the line. Having to wait an hour to shoot them. Being frozen on the second shot with the time out. There is not a tougher situation in basketball. Even MVP missed those shots earlier in the year. And Maarty drained them. Poise, confidence, heart and balls. Leunen has then all. And did a hell of a job on the WSU big guys, too.
- Props to Derrick Low. I hate him with a passion. But I respect the hell out of him. An unreal performance by a great player. 37 points and nine threes. A large round of applause to Mr. Low.
- Look at the bench minutes. Only Oguchi, Schafer, and Catron played, and non had more than 14 minutes. All of the starters were real troopers tonight. But that lack of depth has to scare you come NCAA tourney time.
- Mr. Consistency, Bryce Taylor did not have the greatest game tonight. 2-10 shooting and three turnovers. But he still had six boards and played hard defense.
- Schafer and Catron. Both did nothing and looked like crap. The last two games have been a big step backward for Joevan.
- Tajuan Porter hit some big shots, especially that big three to pull us back within two after Low thought he had sealed the game. 6-9 for three, and only one of them I thought was forced. But he had six turnovers, and consistently left Low open on defense. When the Ducks made their run, Brooks was guarding Low. Not that Brooks was stoppling him by any stretch. But at least he slowed Low down a bit, got him to miss a few shots by getting a hand in his face. Porter just looked lost on him. But, again, he hit big shots and we won. So TP gets a free pass.
- Malik Hairston looked so different this game than on Thursday. He just looks so much more confident and aggressive with MVP out there. He went to the rim more and just had more confidence.