The Washington State Cougars will first appear in court in 2021 when they host the Arizona Wildcats in Pullman on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks). . The cougs should be rested as they have been absent since December. 23. The Wildcats last played on Thursday night when they dispatched the Washington Huskies with ease.
Up to this point the WSU had played the season on a lower level of difficulty. That has had its perks as the Cougs have upgraded in some areas. But against Arizona, the sliders on either end of the floor are cranked up, and the WSU will face the most talented, athletic, and tallest team on their schedule.
After 6’10 Dishon Jackson emerged as a reliable rotation player, the Cougs came out big with 6’8 Andrej Jakimovski at 3, 6’10 Efe Abogidi dem 4 and 7’1 Volodymyr Markovetskyy in the middle. You’re going to need every piece that size when you go up against Arizona.
The Wildcats have historically been good at bouncing offensively and fouls under head coach Sean Miller, largely because of the athletes who have gone through the program. This season those traits have improved and Arizona has grown into one of the most dangerous teams in the country, going offensively and into the free-throw line.
Both offensive ricochets and fouls were largely driven by a rotation in the forecourt, which includes 6’11 Jordan Brown, 6’11 Azuolas Tubelis and 7’1 Christian Koloko. All three are in the top 100 nationwide for offensive rebound percentage, and all three commit fouls at high rates.
Add to that mix an aggressive freshman wing in 6’7 Bennedict Mathurin, and you have a roster ranked 10th nationwide. Place in terms of offensive rebound and 14th. Place occupied in relation to the free throw rate (free throws per field goal attempt). .
Free Throw Rate is a contagious statistic. When a player commits a lot of fouls, a team is more likely to step into the bonus and more frequent fouls result in free throws. Unsurprisingly, much of Arizona’s backcourt also has solid free throw rates.
James Akinjo is a prime example of this. He pulls a fair amount of fouls, but he doesn’t shoot many of his shots at the edge, where fouls pulled are most likely to result in free throws. Even so, he has a high free throw rate. He will be the primary ball handler in Arizona, and most likely a contestant taking a jumper off dribbling – a third of the 3-pointers he made was unsupported. He will rarely chase after an offensive ricochet and instead return to set up the transitional defense.
At 2 Watch, Jemarl Baker Jr. . is an excellent marksman who will put down shots if left open. He shoots well from the outside of the bow and also in the middle area. Like Akinjo, he’s essentially not going to bother with the offensive glass, but that doesn’t mean he should be forgotten if the shot goes up – he’s certainly a threat to knock down a three after a kickout after an offensive board.
This is the most talented offense the WSU will face this season. Wazzu’s Bigs are put to the test, and bad problems could certainly be a problem. Boxing will be paramount. The WSU is at least the size to fight the Arizona Front, which has been a problem in the past. However, that size can quickly resolve if fouls become a problem.
Keeping the Arizona guards, especially Baker, under lock and key outside and getting them fired up can go a long way in keeping Arizona shooting quotas down. Then it comes down to grasping the mistakes and ending possessions without a second chance.
High offensive rebound percentages usually come with a price – increased chances of transition for your opponent. This is not the case for Arizona. The Wildcats use their Bigs to scorch offensive rebounds at high speed while sending guards back to stop the transition. This has resulted in Wildcat defense equipment being a full second longer than the national average and the 64th. longest overall.
This transition coverage by the guards allows Arizona to set up its pack line defense that forces dribbles into the center. Help and shot blockers are waiting there – Arizona blocks shots with the 20th. highest rate nationally. The big ones will clean up the glass too.
There are no obvious weaknesses in the Wildcat defense. They don’t force high sales, but they do force difficult looks. They can be prone to fouling at times, which is nature, forcing players into the middle where it’s crowded.
Arizona’s commitment to basic drive shutdowns has its own defense, and there are opportunities for open looks outside. Nonetheless, they do well and are 70th nationwide with a 3-point percentage. place.
For the WSU to be successful, it must reach a high percentage and a high number of 3 pointers. An attack on the rim is unlikely to be successful. Instead, penetration should be used to get open glances at the wing.
Arizona plays complementary ball – Miller’s offensive tactic promotes his defensive philosophy. Combine that with a large, athletic team and you should be a contender for the Pac-12 crown with the potential to be a weekend weekend NCAA tournament team.
This is going to be a massive test for Kyle Smith’s young team. You sometimes have trouble recovering against teams that are aggressive against the offensive glass. If Abogidi wants to do blocked shots, someone has to get a body on his man.
Smith has often used a zone in small bursts when Markovetskyy is on the ground, but Arizona will punish that on the glass (they grabbed 47. 5 percent of their own mistakes against the UW zone). I wouldn’t expect so much today, except in desperation.
EDIT: Vova is out, Miller is in. Without the big man’s size, sledding gets harder.
The WSU forces hard looks and that should continue against the wild cats. The rebound is all the more important. Arizona will get second chances, which will be frustrating, but it will be important to limit those second chances and find shooters in combat.
Offensively, the Cougs are likely to have a tough day unless they get extremely hot from the outside. The greats of the WSU will find no easy buckets against the size of Arizona. At the very least, Wazzu has to take care of the ball and hope the shots find the net.
KenPom predicts that WSU will win 22 percent of the simulations with an average score of 71-63. So there are scenarios where the cougs hang out with the wildcats and can even win. As always, it starts with the defensive end.
Washington State Cougars Football, Pacific 12 Conference, Washington State Cougars Men’s Basketball, University of Arizona
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