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Washington State Cougars Open Thread

The Huskies start off Pac-12 play at home in the basketball Apple Cup

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Saturday, 1/5/19

Tip-Off Time: 7:30 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks


Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting Line: Washington -13

Washington State 2018-19 Statistics:

Record: 7-6

Points For per Game: 82.2 (24th)

Points Against per Game: 76.1 (240th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 106.5 (103rd)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 107.2 (267th)

Strength of Schedule: -8.26 (345th)

Washington State Key Players:

F-Robert Franks, Sr. 6’9, 225: 22.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 52.4% FG, 33.8% 3pt, 72.1% FT

The Cougars’ star player almost left for the draft after a breakout 2017/18 season and has responded to coming back by taking on an even larger share of the scoring burden. His 3-pt shooting is down closer to his career average so last year’s 40% from deep may have been a little unsustainable. With the transfer of Arinze Chidom last month on a team with an already thin front line, Franks has had to play substantial minutes as the biggest guy on the court for Washington State.

F- C.J Elleby, Fr. 6’6, 185: 15.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.4 apg, 48.1% FG, 37.5% 3pt, 66.7% FT

Elleby looked like he might have been a steal coming out of Cleveland High in Seattle and he has been one of the best freshmen in the conference as a do it all small ball 4. He has 11 turnovers in the Cougars’ only 3 games against top-100 opponents so expect the Husky defense to try to swarm him when he gets the ball.

G- Carter Skaggs, Jr. 6’5, 215: 8.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.9 apg, 41.2% FG, 38.7% 3pt, 89.5% FT

The junior sharpshooter from Indiana does nothing but shoot 3-pointers and he continues to make them at a very high rate. He should be the highest priority for the Husky wings in the zone to know where he is at all times and don’t let him get any day light even if he’s a couple steps beyond the arc.

G- Viont’e Daniels, Jr. 6’2, 175: 7.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.4 apg, 36.7% FG, 40% 3pt, 100% FT

Daniels missed 4 games due to injury before coming back and playing 22 minutes in the loss to Santa Clara. Before that he was averaging 32+ minutes per game. He’s another elite shooter who has made multiple 3-pointers in 6 of his 9 games so far.

G- Ahmed Ali, Jr. 5’11, 165: 8.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.4 apg, 40.7% FG, 36.2% 3pt, 84% FT

Ali is the best passer on this Wazzu team as a JC transfer and he has been a very solid but undersized addition. In the Cougars’ last 4 games he has averaged 10.5 points, 4.8 assists, and less than one turnover per game. Of course Washington State is 1-3 in those games so...

2018-19 Washington State Shot Chart

Washington State thrives when they’re able to drive the ball and either take an open corner 3 or get the ball all the way to the rim. They aren’t shy about shooting from the midrange which is generally open against the Husky zone so if they make those shots then the Cougars definitely have a chance.

Synergy Sports

The Outlook

The Cougars lost 4 of their 9 rotation players from a year ago either due to transfer or graduation (although mostly transfer) so it shouldn’t be shocking that they took it easy on their schedule. Washington State played the 344th non-conference schedule out of 353 teams and yet they lost 6 games. Yikes.

The offense though has been just as effective as it was last season. The raw numbers unsurprisingly look very good because of that poor schedule and also because the Cougars play at one of the fastest offensive tempos in the nation (13th shortest time per offensive possession). However, those numbers may be close to meaningless in analyzing this game because the Huskies are vastly better on defense than anyone the Cougars have played so far and because opposing offenses are 347th in shortest time per possession. It’s a clear contrast in styles playing out on the court.

Everything revolves around Robert Franks who takes nearly 1/3rd of Washington State’s shots while he’s on the floor. He’s a smooth shooting big man who is by far at his best when he’s taking the ball inside. Franks shoots 71.6% on shots in the paint so it will be Washington’s job to keep him out of there. True freshman C.J Elleby has been an effective Robin to Franks’ Batman so far. He’s really struggled taking defenders one-on-one but is a great pick and roll ball handler and is effective working off the ball as well.

Last season the Cougars were the 3-pt happiest team in the country and bombed it on almost every possession. They’ve toned it down so far this year but they still take a ton of 3-pointers and still make a good percentage of them. The Huskies kept them to 13 of 51 from deep (25.5%) a year ago but UW also hasn’t been defending the 3 ball as well as they did last season in general. Now would be a good time to start.

With a solid offense and yet bad team it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the Cougars have been horrific on defense. There really isn’t any rim protection on this team and only one player weighs more than 225 pounds so it shouldn’t be surprising that they hemorrhage points at the basket. Opponents shoot 57.8% in the paint which is well below average. Noah Dickerson should have an absolute field day.

Given Washington State’s lack of size this seems like it should be a game tailor-made for Hameir Wright at center rather than Sam Timmins. But Wright missed Tuesday’s game with a sprained ankle and if he can’t get on the court tonight it will hurt on the defensive end. However, the Huskies should have the necessary defensive firepower to corral the Cougars and start off conference play with a win before the vaunted mountain schools road trip at Utah and Colorado next week.

EDIT: Robert Franks is out for this game with a hip injury. Can’t see any way for the Cougars to keep this close without him.


Washington Huskies- 77, Washington State Cougars- 61


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