I honestly think the issue right now is not the other team, especially since WSU is 2-8 and tied for last in the conference. I think the Bruins have their own issues to deal with, whether it is the selfishness of Shabazz, the refusal to shoot of Larry Drew, or the shooting slumps of Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson, or the rebounding problems of Travis Wear. Then there are the off the court issues of Bill Walton calling out Howland. This game is not about WSU but about the Bruins.
Even though I tend to believe the opponent is irrelevant, I thought I would highlight a preview from Bruin Report Online. Before I get to the article, let me discuss the one very good player Wazzu does have Brock Motum. Motum is a complete offensive player who leads WSU in scoring, field goal % (of those who play a lot), rebounding, block shots, free throw percentage (again of those who play regularly), and minutes played. The only down side is everyone knows how good Motum is and how bad the rest of the team is so he also leads the team in turnovers and his shooting percentage is down this year. Motum is very good, the rest of Wazzu, not so much.
As far as the rest of the team, let's turn to Bruin Report Online. Starting with the "other scorer":
The other "scorer" for the Cougars is senior guard Mike Ladd (6'5" 195 lbs.). Ladd is an adequate shooter and decent rebounder, grabbing 5.8 RPG. His 11.7 PPG come from a variety of shots, including 33% from the three-point line. Ladd's scoring would be up considerably if h were hitting more than 60% of his free throws. Ladd is also a pretty good defender, which he'll need to be as it looks like he'll be guarding UCLA'sShabazz Muhammad for much of the game.
There is some hope for Adams to get back on track.
Wazzu's best athlete is sophomore guard DaVonte Lacy (6'3" 206 lbs.). Lacy averages 9.7 PPG, but like Ladd would average more if his free throw percentage wasn't so mediocre. He also tends to get lazy, settling for cruising around the perimeter and not really getting involved inside. He averages only 2.6 RPG. That might be what the proverbial doctor ordered for UCLA's Jordan Adams to get out of his shooting slump. In all honesty, he shouldn't have to work terribly hard on defense against Lacy so he can concentrate more on the offensive end.
Then it gets interesting. Will Howland matchup the Wears and Parker(for his 2 minutes) on Motum and keep Anderson inside to rebound? Or will he go with Anderson on Motum. Personally, I think UCLA needs to keep Anderson close to the basket for the defense rebounds. BRO phrases the debate below:
Junior post D.J. Shelton (6'10" 250 lbs.) rounds out the starting five. He isn't much of a scorer but he does rebound well, averaging 6.1 RPG and having double-digit rebounds in the game against USC. Luckily UCLA has just faced a Washington squad that went with two big posts, one athletic and the other a load to deal with around the basket. Don't be surprised if Howland decides to put Kyle Anderson on Motum and use the Wears and Parker against Shelton's bulk. It depends on who Howland has more faith in as a defender because the better post defender should be on Motum, even if that leaves Anderson physically at a disadvantage against Shelton.
UW had talent but was stupid. WSU does not have talent but may be smarter. They will slow the game down a bit and probably try to make Larry Drew II a scorer. If they don't expect a big night from Shabazz and hopefully Adams.
On the defensive end, expect Bone to vary from a man to a zone, but having whoever is guarding Drew drop to around the three-point line. Once again, it is going to be imperative for the UCLA point guard to hit a couple of outside shots to loosen things up. Since Bone has been in the Palouse, his teams have always seemed pretty susceptible to weakside screening and shooters. Muhammad and Adams (more Muhammad) have been really good at using double screens to get open as they run baseline coming back to the ball side of the floor. That's how both of them often get open looks from deep.
This is really a game that should not be close. But the last three games the Bruins' problems have been more than their opponents.