Washington-Washington State: Cross-State RIvals Face Off in Pac-10 Finale

Lew WrightSenior Writer IMarch 5, 2009

Washington (23-7, 13-4) and Washington State (16-13, 8-9) will meet up once again this Saturday on the hardwood of Bank of America Arena in Seattle, WA.

Whatever you do, be sure to set aside a couple of hours between 2:30pm and 4:30pm to take in college basketball at its best.

There’s no better way to wrap up a Pac-10 schedule than to have two rivals square off.

This would be a great game to watch even if there was nothing more than pride on the line.

No matter, there is plenty on the line for both of these ball clubs.

Washington wants to earn a Pac-10 crown the old-fashioned way. Winning the game Saturday accomplishes that goal.

Washington State wants to ride the wave of momentum they caught a couple of weeks ago.  The Cougs have a three-game winning streak and look to have finally come into their own as this regular season winds down. A win over the UW keeps momentum in crimson and gray jerseys.

Coach Lorenzo Romar has done a masterful job with his roster. His starting lineup is comprised of the best athletes, top to bottom, in the conference. It’s a group of players that play solid basketball that is best defined by two words.

Team basketball.

Those two words are an accurate label to place on Coach Tony Bennett’s squad.

Team basketball.

Coach Bennett has some outstanding athletes on his roster as well.

There is one significant difference between the two teams. The Cougs are one of the youngest teams in the nation. Coach Bennett has 9 freshmen on the 15 man squad. With five seniors, WSU has an average age of just 19.87. That’s a youth movement for Division I basketball.

Youth is an important component when looking ahead to this match-up.

When these two teams met in Pullman, WA, to begin their respective Pac-10 schedules, Washington blew the Cougs off their own court, 68-48. The loss was an important lessons for the young guns of Washington State.

Will the Cougs remember the showboating of the Dawgs late in that game?

Truth be known, all the supposition about the history between these two teams won’t mean much once the ball is tossed up to begin play.

What will be important to know going into this battle is that both the Huskies and the Cougars play outstanding team basketball.

The top two freshmen guards in the Pac-10 will be facing off for a second time.

Isaiah Thomas is the spark plug that fires up the Huskies. He’s a lock to be honored as the top freshman in the conference.

Klay Thompson started the season as a terrific offensive player. Klay has matured into a complete player. He’s a lock to be selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.

Washington held the Cougs to their lowest rebound total on the season last time around. That stat coupled with WSU only shooting 41 percent from the floor spelled disaster. Missing 27 shots creates a lot of rebound opportunities. The Huskies made the most of those chances by grabbing 23 defensive boards. They dominated the offensive glass as well, collecting 13 boards while WSU could manage just five of their own.

The other area Coach Romar’s team excelled at in Pullman was moving the ball on offense. They had 11 assists on their 25 buckets. That’s team basketball. By comparison, WSU managed just 4 assists on their 19 baskets.

That was then.

Both teams have improved over the course of the season.

By 5pm Saturday evening, we’ll know which team has improved the most.


Note: Senior guard Taylor Rochestie left practice Wednesday afternoon with an injury to a finger on his right hand. Rochestie first injured the finger in the UCLA game. An examination determined there was nothing serious and he’ll be ready to go Saturday.