Stanford-Washington State: Cougs Look to Stop Skid Against Cardinal

Lew WrightSenior Writer IJanuary 10, 2009

Coach Tony Bennett's Washington State Cougars look to secure their initial Pac-10 victory this season Saturday evening when they host the Stanford Cardinal in Pullman, WA. College basketball fans can tune in on FSN Northwest at 7 PM PST to see what promises to be a great game.

The Cardinal will bring with them an impressive record of 11-2 overall. However, after losing to the Huskies Thursday night, Stanford dropped to 1-2 in conference play.

First-year head Coach Johnnie Dawkins has Stanford scoring at a 78 point average. That's an impressive stat when consider the Cardinal are scoring seven points per game more this year than last.

Two players, the Lopez twins, from last season are now scoring in the NBA after being picked high in the draft. Do you remember how good the twins were? They averaged 29 points per game between the pair. Impressive offense.

Coach Dawkins has his team playing up tempo basketball. Not a big surprise there after spending more than a decade as an assistant at Duke.

Stanford lost a heartbreaker Thursday night to the UW on a tip in by Jon Brockman with just :05 seconds left in the game. Neither team enjoyed more than a five-point lead in that game over the final 15 minutes.

Just as that game played out for the Cardinal, WSU has not been able to finish games against top flight opposition. In their game with Cal Thursday night, Washington State played well much of the second half. Things got away from them in the final couple of minutes.

It's not likely that the talent Coach Bennett has coming off the bench will continue to sputter on offense.  Against, Cal, the bench wasn't able to contribute any scoring. That proved to be a significant difference in the outcome of the game.

Stanford hasn't faced a team that plays the deliberate style of Coach Bennett's Cougs. From a coaching standpoint, Coach Dawkins didn't see anything like Bennett Ball while he was at Duke.

Watching a team on tape and getting out there on the hardwood are two entirely different things. That might just be the advantage WSU needs to earn their first conference win and stop a three-game losing skid.

Coach Dawkins has four players averaging 10+ points a game.  The Cardinal are led by senior Anthony Goods who is putting up more than 17 points a game, converting 40% of his three-point attempts.  

Senior Lawrence Hill is a very talented 6'8" front-line player who is excellent at both ends of the court. Hill will be a key player to watch. Stanford needs him to set the tone. Not only does Hill score, he has a nose for the ball grabbing over six rebounds a game and is second in assists for the scoring machine that is Stanford.

Senior Taylor Rochestie looked outstanding in the second half for WSU against Cal. Not only did he find his shooting touch, his smothering defense shut down Jerome Randle, one of the best scoring guards in the Pac-10. Looks as though Taylor has his groove back which spells trouble for opponents the rest of the way.

Not only did Coach Bennett's subs have a sub-par game against the Bears, senior Aron Baynes struggled to put the ball through the hoop for the first time this year. That's not likely to happen two games in a row.

Be sure to have your popcorn popped and favorite beverage nearby. Tune your television to FSN Northwest, but if possible, turn down the volume and turn up the radio to the Cougar Basketball network.

Expect the young guns of Washington State to begin blending nicely with the Cougar upper classmen. With some tweaking by the WSU coaching staff over the past two days, look for something more than a great game on Friel Court.

Look for a Cougar victory!