Washington State 2009 NIT Tournament Preview
Washington State Cougars -
Pacific 10 (25-8, 14-4)
Seed: #7 - SDSU Region
Big Wins: 1/29 at Arizona State (65-55), 2/21 at UCLA (82-81), 2/28 Arizona State (51-49)
Bad Losses: 12/6 Baylor (52-58), 2/5 at Stanford (54-65), 2/14 Oregon State (52-54)
Coach: Tony Bennett
Probable Washington Starters:
Taylor Rochestie, Senior, Guard, 13.2 ppg, 4.7 apg, 3.6 rpg
Marcus Capers, Freshman, Guard, 1.5 ppg, 1.2 apg
Klay Thompson, Freshman, Guard, 12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Caleb Forrest, Senior, Forward, 6.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Aron Baynes, Senior, Center, 12.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Key Washington Roleplayers:
DeAngelo Casto, Freshman, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Daven Harmeling, Senior, Forward, 4.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Nikola Koprivica, Junior, Guard, 3.2 ppg, 1.6 apg
Why The Cougars Can Surprise:
You can never argue against the system. Coach Tony Bennett has continued the recent success in Pullman this year by sharing the ball and, more importantly, taking care of the ball. Taylor Rochestie deserves most of the credit for keeping the turnovers down. The senior point guard dishes out 4.7 assists per game, but he is also a great scorer and has taken over the leadership role for Washington State.
The other traditional asset in the WSU system is the defense. The Cougars rank first in the nation by only giving up 55.2 points per game. That is mostly due to Washington State slowing down the tempo, but the interior defense has done a great job this year nonetheless. Aron Baynes and DeAngelo Casto are a big reason for that success. Both are quality shot blockers and will make it very difficult for anybody to get to the basket. Baynes is also a superb rebounder and a quality interior scorer.
Why The Cougars Can Disappoint:
Rochestie and Klay Thompson are good outside shooters, but there are no other proven scorers on the perimeter. The Cougars will not take very many three-point shots and their lack of outside shooting is a concern. The only other guards on the roster are Nikola Koprivica and Marcus Capers and neither of them are a threat to score. If Rochestie and Thompson are not hitting their shots, the Cougars offense is in a world of trouble.
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Who To Watch:
Daven Harmeling and Caleb Forrest can add some offense. Harmeling, a 6-7 senior, is a versatile player who can score in the paint or step outside and knock down the occasional three-pointer. However, he is not a great rebounder for a player his size and that is where Forrest has an advantage on Harmeling when those two are battling for minutes. While Forrest is not a shooter, he will use his 6-8, 223 pound frame to battle in the paint. Forrest was a very important part of the Cougars late season wins over UCLA and Arizona and he will have to keep it up in March for the Cougars to make a nice little tournament run.
Washington By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 59.4 (313th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.2 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.6 (180, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.0 (16, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.8 (210, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (109, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.5 (9, 1)
Rebound Margin: 2.7 (88, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.5 (205, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (10, 1)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to St. Mary’s
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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