Arizona visits Washington St. tonight in a Pac-12 matchup. WSU is 1-7 in Pac-12 play and 9-11 overall. WSU’s lost their previous game to Washington 80-62. Here is a look at tonight’s match-up.
#22 Malachi Flynn 6’1″ G (So.)
#4 Viont’e Daniels 6’3″ G (Fr.)
#5 Milan Acquaah 6’3″ G (Fr.)
#43 Drick Bernstine 6’8″ F (Sr.)
#3 Robert Franks 6’7″ F (Jr.)
Off the bench: #35 Carter Skaggs 6’5″ G (So.), #13 Jeff Pollard 6’9″ F (So.), #40 Kwinton Hinson 6’4″ G (Jr.), #25 Arinze Chidom 6’9″ F (Fr.)
Offense: WSU didn’t play particularly well against Washington’s 2-3 zone defense. They ran a few perimeter ball screens but mainly looked to move the ball around the perimeter to either shoot a wing 3 or get the ball to #3 Franks at the free throw line or elbow area. Franks is leading the team in scoring (17.6) and rebounding (7.1). WSU is averaging 30 3-point shots per game and much of their success is dependent on Franks and whether or not the 3 is falling. They are 18th in the NCAA in number of 3-pointers made.
Defense: WSU played man-to-man for most of the game against Washington. They went to a zone for a few possessions and there is a good chance they will play more zone against the Cats tonight, due to their lack of size and depth. When in man-to-man they did not “come out” on perimeter ball screens and chose instead to sag and let the defending guard chase around the screen. They did a good job at sagging their defense into the paint and helping on the post.
Strengths: WSU lives and dies with the 3. They are shooting just under 40% from distance and on the year have attempted 25 more 3’s than 2’s. #3 Franks is the backbone of this team and is a very good all around player. He is very active in the paint and also shoots 42% from 3-point range.
Weaknesses: Lack of depth and size. WSU’s defense is 258th in the NCAA allowing 75.3 points per game. They do not get to the foul line very often and are 348th in the NCAA in free throws attempted.
Summary: WSU will get out and run when the opportunity arises and will look to shoot a lot of 3’s. #35 Skaggs and #4 Daniels are their best perimeter shooters, both shooting around 45% from 3. #5 Acquaah is a very good athlete who can make some plays in transition. WSU will need Franks to have a big game in order to stay competitive and if they are hitting their 3’s this game could be much closer than expected. Though they are 1-7 in Pac-12 play, WSU can still be a dangerous team.
Keys for the Cats: Many teams have been playing zone against the Cats recently and it will be interesting to see if WSU follows suit. The Cats will have to make sure and contest every 3 while being able to recover and keep the offensive player in front of them. WSU is ranked 285th in the NCAA for opponent’s 2-point FG%. Coupling that with the Cats being 7th in the NCAA in 2-point FG% means that this game should be played, for Arizona, inside the arc. The Cats will most likely be without Rawle Alkins which once again opens the door for someone off the bench to come in and make an impact for the Cats. They have been looking all year for a player or two to come off the bench with consistent production and minutes. This would be a good game for a few of them to step up and separate themselves from the rest of the subs. The Cats are going to need better production and more reliable defense from the bench as they look to make a deep run in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments.