I wanted to focus in on Westbrook a little bit before tonight's big game. We had talked about how Russell hasn't been really himself since our home game against Washington State. And even though he had a great play against Oregon towards the end of the game which helped us get a huge win, his defensive intensity during that road trip wasn't reminding us of the RW we saw earlier in the season which led to many of us thinking of him as the second coming of AA.
So with that note it was great to see this report in the OC Register from yesterday in which RW he needs to step up tonight:
So now comes Arizona State and James Harden, a more daunting challenge than ones Westbrook faced from the Ducks and the Beavers in Oregon. Harden, though only a freshman, is fifth in the Pac-10 in scoring with 18.8 points per game and has hit 56.9 percent of his shots, including a team-high 42 percent from 3-point range.
"There are a lot of things that he can do -- he can shoot it and he can drive it, finish,'' Westbrook said.
Driving, finishing, getting to the free-throw line might be what he does best. Harden has been to the line 132 times this season, which is second in the Pac-10 to UCLA center Kevin Love
That has to pique Westbrook, who has inherited the role of Arron Afflalo from a year ago and has been defending the opponent's best perimeter player. He cannot afford to make the same type of mistakes that he made once or twice in Oregon -- extending too far, losing position.
"He's going to try to take it off the dribble, but I don't know if he's going to take me off the dribble,'' Westbrook said. "Of course he's going to get by a couple of times, but I'm going to do my best to stay in front."
If we can have both RW and DC click on all cylinders then watch out.