It’s been awhile since I last posted.  I’ve been working doubles and have had little time to sleep let alone watch and write about basketball.  However, I’m a dedicated fan and while at my second job managed to watch a little basketball.

The Washington State Cougars have recently caught my eye.  I admit that before watching the Baylor game I knew little about them other than their W over Gonzaga (81-59).  While watching I noticed some really good basketball on the Cougar’s side of the ball.  I also think Baylor is overrated and it showed tonight.  I’ll start out by talking a little about Wash. St., then Baylor, and I’ll finish up with some thoughts I have about each team.

The Cougars impressed me, particularly in the first half.  Their team ball movement created a lot of open shot opportunities and easy points in the lane.  They only average 14.9 assists/game but tonight the pass really helped propel them to a victory.  Washington St. is also a very hot shooting team, 9th in shooting percentage/game.  Give them open shots and they’ll hit them, that’s exactly what happened to Baylor.  Baylor seemed a bit slow on D and was a little lackadaisical and Wash St. took advantage of Baylor’s poor defensive effort and put up 77 (1.9 points lower than their season average).  Klay Thompson also exhibited leadership skills second to none in this game.  He had 20 points and 3 assists and basically sat out the second half due to foul trouble.  When Thompson was out the Cougars seemed a little lost and this concerns me.  It’s always good to have a team leader and a go to guy but when he’s out you still have to be able to make stops on defense and put up points as a team.

Baylor. I don’t want to roast them too badly. After all they are DI ball players and I’m not. But, even I can see mistakes and weaknesses in teams.  As mentioned before the Bears defense was mediocre at best.  They only gave up 77 points but that was with Wash St.’s leading scorer out most of the second half.  They didn’t play help D at all and seemed to have no clue how to get through screens.  They also lacked consistent offense.  They lacked effective ball movement and penetration and settled for too many threes.  They passed the ball around the arc and would launch ill advised shots from the perimeter, a coach’s (and fans) nightmare.  To Baylor’s credit they did go on a 9-0 run midway through the second half when the Cougar’s Klay Thompson was out due to foul trouble.  However, they still lacked knowledge of what a good shot was and decided to play 3-point challenge instead of basketball and it cost them the game.

I think that if Washington St. can find somebody to step up and make buckets to take some pressure off of Thompson they’ll be a very tough team to beat come tourney time (both conference and March Madness).  I think with time they’ll find that guy because of the style they play. They seem to like to share the ball, even though their national rank doesn’t suggest that.  They also have good ball movement and penetration that creates open looks and easy opportunities to score.  As for Baylor, I have no idea how they’re ranked #15.  They have no solid wins and lost to a struggling Gonzaga squad. By conference play they’ll have more losses and will be unveiled as an overrated team.  Kansas and Kansas State will make them look silly and I’ll have a good time watching those games.

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