I know there are number of folks who are already looking ahead to the top-5 matchup against Washington State on Saturday. We will not have any of that here. It will be foolish for Ben Ball warriors to look ahead to Saturday's game because if they are not focused and ready, they will get burned against a very talented Washington Huskies team coached of course by former Bruin assistant Lorenzo Romar.
Huskies are coming off a tough home loss against the Cougars. The game was close and the difference per John at Washington Husky Sports:
Of course, they missed too many free throws and had crucial breakdowns on offense and defense at the worst possible times but - if you read between the lines - the improvement is there to see. Compare Saturday's performance to the way the team played against Oklahoma State or Long Beach State earlier in the season and you'll understand what I'm referring to.
Coach Romar doesn't have a true point guard in his starting lineup right now. However, Venoy Overton played some valuable minutes in the first half when the Huskies put a nice run on the Cougars. Romar went with Justin Dentmon for most of the second half and he had four crucial turnovers.
Now, the Huskies go out on the road and play the LA schools. It's too early to call these "must-win-games" but it would be dire to come out of this series with an 0-3 conference record.
The biggest question in my mind right now is: was Tim Morris's stellar performance against the Cougs an anomaly or a breakthrough game that will lead to big things?
--Senior sharpshooter Ryan Appleby, who averaged 19 points in his first three games after returning from a broken thumb, has scored at a 6.8 points-per-game clip in four games since then. He shot 2 for 8 and scored six points vs. the defense of WSU's lengthy Kyle Weaver.
Usual Starters -- F Jon Brockman, C Artem Wallace, G Joel Smith, G Tim Morris, G Ryan Appleby. Key Subs -- F Quincy Pondexter; G Justin Dentmon, G Venoy Overton.
Also on paper we should have the edge with DC, RW, and JS in the back court. But those three cannot get stagnant with their defense because the Huskies are explosive enough to blow us up. The Huskies are coming into this game as the third highest scoring offense (76.3 pts) in the Pac-10 (behind Oregon and Cal). [See Pac-10 stats]. They are also leading the conference in 3 pt FG percentages (.408). Appleby is shooting 51.1% from behind the arc. Morris who as referenced above had a good game against the Cougars is shooting 47.4% from the three point line. [See Pac-10 stats] It will be up to our guards to lock these guys up to make sure Appleby and co don't get any open looks and put the kind of on ball pressure we saw from our back court D in the Bay Area.
We will have more on the Huskies later. But once again I will reiterate it will be foolish to look past these guys. Last time our team took those guys lightly, they got burned in Seattle. I am sure Coach Howland will be reminding our boys of those memories and hopefully get them focused and ready for Thursday night.
By the way does anyone thing Coach Neuheisel will be formally introduced to the UCLA fans at Pauley on Thursday night? I have a feeling we may see that. So if you are heading over to this game, make sure you have your cameras ready to go.