Game Preview: "Apple Cup of Hoops" (game #21)


Who: Washington Huskies (3-5, 13-7 overall) vs. Washington State Cougars (4-4, 14-6 overall)

When: Saturday, 12:30 PM

Where: Hec Edmundson Pavilion

Huskies 101: UW is calling it “The Apple Cup of Hoops.”

I’m calling it the first game of the Huskies’ “Ten and Your In” portion of the season. The task is no easy feat, but it’s nearly impossible to argue that the Huskies wouldn’t earn an NCAA bid — conference champs or not — if they can win the final ten games on their schedule.

The Huskies are fresh off dominating Seattle U. (123-76), after tough losses in Souther California to UCLA (62-61) and USC (87-61)

As we’ve said before, there’s very little the Huskies can do to prove to themselves, or anyone watching, that they can win on the road until they do. So, truly, I’m just excited for this homestand to be finished — assuming the team can win the next three.

Projected lineup: G – Abdul Gaddy, G – Isaiah Thomas, F – Justin Holiday, F – Quincy Pondexter, F – Tyreese Breshers

Wazzu 101: Washington State, in its first year under Ken Bone has been better than expected. The team comes in after splitting last weekend in Southern Cal — defeating USC, but losing to UCLA.

Guard Klay Thompson is tied for ninth in the country in scoring (22.3 ppg) and is second on the team in rebounds (5.0) and assists (2.5). Point guard Reggie Moore (14.4 ppg, 4.6 apg) is one of the best freshman in the Pac-10.

Forward DeAngelo Casto (10 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg) is one of my favorite non-Huskies. He’s, essentially, what Husky fans want Matthew Bryan-Amaning to be: a decent, but not great, scorer who finds ways to impact the game even when he’s not in an offensive rhythm.

Projected lineup: G – Reggie Moore, G – Klay Thompson, G – Abe Lodwick, G – Marcus Capers, F – DeAngelo Casto

The Huskies will win if: Hec Edmundson Pavilion does not suddenly disappear overnight, forcing the game to be played elsewhere.

The Dawgs will win if Justin Holiday keeps a hand in Klay Thompson’s face all night. It’s silly to think Thompson won’t get his points, but keeping him in the teens, as opposed to the high 20’s, could be a difference maker.

The Dawgs will win if they pressure the rookie point guard and contain him. Moore has had three 5+ turnover games and they’ve all been on the road. And, since Thompson might go off no matter what the Huskies do, and DeAngelo Casto is, at his best, twice as good as any Husky big man, Moore is the one the Dawgs must shut down.

The Huskies will lose if: The Huskies will lose if Tuesday’s game, which felt more like an exhibition, gave them any kind of sense that they were out of the woods. This is a team that needs to play with a chip on its shoulder, and play as the underdog. Let’s hope nobody on the team looks at the (way too large) eight-point spread on the game.

The Dawgs will lose if they only don’t find something new on offense. This is really a note about every game after this one, but they’ve got to get someone going as that third option. The second time around the lineup in baseball, a pitcher needs something new to fool hitters. And the second time around the Pac-10 schedule, the Dawgs need something new too. Paging Mr. Elston Turner.

A humble suggestion: Give the three-guard lineup (IT, Gaddy and Venoy on the floor all at once) a try again at some point tomorrow. Not to start, of course, but as a change of pace. It didn’t look good early in the season when we tried it, but we’re not doing much inside anyway. Put those guys on the court with Holiday and Quincy, allowing Quincy to guard Casto, and see what happens. Just a thought. (Could be a bad thought, admittedly.)

Predictions: I have as much faith as I had in the Huskies coming into the season at home. The second half against Oregon was a fluke — this is a top-25 team at home. I predict another strong performance, devoid of “cool jackets” and all of the other ugliness we’ve seen at times.

Another win. Another game closer to showing they can do it on the road. Huskies, 86-79.