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MBB Preview and Open Thread: Oregon at Washington State

Oregon (7-8, 0-3) at Washington State (11-4, 1-2)
7:30 PT, Beasley Coliseum
Media:  Fox Sports Northwest

Starting Lineups

Pos.  Washington State Oregon
F DeAngelo Casto (9.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.7 apg) Joevan Catron  (16.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg)
F Abe Lodwick (2.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.2 apg) Jeremy Jacob (8.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.6 apg)
F/G Klay Thompson (22.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.1 apg) E.J. Singler (11.7 ppg, 6.2 ppg, 1.5 apg)
G Marcus Capers (6.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg) Garrett Sim (7.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.5 apg)
G Reggie Moore (8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.1 apg) Johnathan Loyd (5.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.1 apg)

Oregon heads up to the Palouse to take on the Cougs tonight and, much like with the Huskies on Thursday, Oregon will find themselves overmatched from a talent perspective.  Aside from a three game losing streak to three good teams at the end of a LONG road trip (Butler, USC, UCLA), Wazzu has been very impressive this season.  They ran Gonzaga out of the gym.  Ran Portland out of the gym.  Have solid wins against Mississippi State and Baylor.  Their only other loss was a five point decision against Kansas State.

The Cougars field arguably the best player in the conference in guard Klay Thompson.  Thompson is a scorer in every sense of the word--22.7 points per game, shooting 47% overall and 44% from three.  He hits jumpers from everywhere on the floor,..  If we sit in a zone, Thompson will destroy us from long range.  We will have to play man to man against this team, but Thompson will be a tough guard for EJ Singler.  Expect to see lots of help defense on Klay, which is still unfortunate as he averages four assists a game and is a very good passer.  Nobody else on the team is nearly the threat that Thompson is.  Reggie Moore averages eight points and four assists a game while shooting 43% from three.  DeAngelo Casto mans the interior, but isn't a big threat offensively.  That said, Casto and Abe Lodwick are very good defenders, and expect them to double Joevan Catron often.  This is the same strategy empoyed in the second halves by Washington and Arizona State, and that's not a good thing for our offense.

In an effort to provide a less biased view on things, I am going to start referring to the Ken Pomeroy's statistics to provide a less biased view of things (thanks for this idea, CougCenter).  The Cougars are a good offensive team, ranking 43rd in the nation with an adjusted offensive efficiency of 110.7 (aOE is points per 100 possessions adjusted for the quality of defenses played).  When we break that down into its parts, we see that Washington State shoots the ball extremely well (17th in the land) and doesn't turn the ball over (33rd fewest in the nation at 17/100 possessions).  But they are abysmal both in terms of getting to the line (282nd in the land) and offensive rebounding (288th).  Their tempo is just about average.  This is a jump shooting team, but one that shoots at an extermely good rate.

The Cougars are even better defensively, ranking 34th in the country in defensive adjusted efficiency (89.8 points/100 possessions).  They are one of the very best in the country at defending the three (17th, with opponents shooting only 28%) and force turnovers at a well above average rate. 

Looking at Oregon's advanced metrics, its not surprising that we rank 295th (out of 346 schools) in the land in effective FG%, and 293rd from three (at 44.8% and 30% respectively.  Remember, those are adjusted, not raw numbers).  Our only saving grace is that we're 39th in the country at not commiting turnovers, but we have no idea how to put the ball in the basket.  Our defensive adjusted efficiency (95.8 points/100 possessions) is good for 90th in the country, and much improved from last year, but still second to last in the conference ahead of only the Beavers.  We do a good job at forcing turnovers (which is what I'm talking about when I've been saying we're playing good defense), but we are one of the worst in the country at both defending the three pointer (300th in the land, likely because of how much zone we've been playing) at at giving up offensive rebounds (because we're short, though so is Wazzu, so this should be somewhat neutralized in this game).  Also worth noting for those following the team, is that Malcolm Armstead has been the worst offensive player, and its not even close (click the team names at the top of this post for the Pomeroy stats for each team.  These will be linked there from here on out).

Keys to the game:

  • Contain Klay:  Klay Thompson is going to get his, but we can't sit in a zone and let him pick us apart.  I expect us to full man this team (they are not big), and EJ is going to have to stick to him like glue. He will get some, he's too good not to, but his game needs to be somewhere around 15 points instead of 45.
  • Take control of the glass:  Like us, Washington State has very limited size and is not a good rebounding team.  We have to control the glass on both sides, giving us extra possessions while limiting theirs.
  • Make the easy shots:  There has to be a game where the layups and runners start going in.  It has to be one of those games for us to finish the job and pull out an upset.