PREVIEW - WASHINGTON STATE AT CALIFORNIACal and the 14-2 WSU Cougars are actually pretty similar teams. They play at about the same pace, their offensive statistics are similar, and each are among the stingier teams in the conference on defense (though WSU is superior in that last category).
WSU isn't very deep, but their starting five is very strong: Point guard Derrick Low is their MVP thus far. Takes great care of the basketball, with a turnover rate below 10.0 (by contrast, Ayinde is at 14.9% - still a good number). Low is a tremendous shooter from both two and three (41% from behind the arc). Kyle Weaver (left) is his back court mate - much taller (6'5") and more athletic, he presents match-up problems for opponents. Gets to the line far more often than any other Cougar.
One big question for WSU before the season was whether its front court could hold its own in conference play. So far, so good. Sophomore Daven Harmeling is a three/four who plays outside quite a bit. He's statistically the best shooter on the Cougars, with a Pomeroy effective FG rate of 63.9%. Interestingly, he's taken 61 threes and only 36 twos this year. Ivory Clark (right) is very active on the offensive boards and is the Cougars' best shot-blocker. Lastly, 6'10" Robbie Cowgill is the man in the middle, averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds.
Their bench is a big drop-off from the starting five. Mac Hopson offers 6.2 ppg off the bench as a combo guard; Taylor Rochestie is a former C-USA All-Freshman PG at Tulane who's stuck behind Low, and there's a couple of other guys. Bottom line - get the Coogs in foul trouble, and your chances of inducing the upset spike up dramatically.
Keys to the Game:
- Attack offensively. Ayinde needs to keep the momentum going from the Stanford game and really try to break down Low and/or Weaver and get them in foul trouble.
- Control Clark and Cowgill on the glass. This is a game where Cal need not be blown out of the water in rebounding.
- Get some consistent wing scoring to slow down the defense collapsing on Anderson. It would be nice for Vierneisel or Omar to step up and have a nice outside game tonight.