Game Preview: WSU


We want to welcome frequent commenter, John Chase, to Montlake Madness. Sometimes basketball and social lives don’t go hand-in-hand, so we needed some help with continuing to bring high level posts and analysis. John has been writing for his own site and we liked what we saw. I hope everyone welcomes John as I know he will do a great job.

by John Chase

Who: #17 UW (15-4, 7-1) vs. WSU (14-6, 4-4)

When: Sunday, 7 pm

Where: Pullman, WA


WSU is 14-6 on the year, 4-4 in conference. They were swept in L.A., but swept the Oregon schools at home. The other two series they have split, including a narrow loss to Arizona. WSU does have a nice victory over then #15 Baylor at home.

WSU 101:

WSU can be a tad more dangerous than Arizona as Washington State has a few more weapons at its disposal.

  • There is of course Klay Thompson, who bricked a possible game tying shot against Arizona, but they also have Faisal Aden, a junior college transfer, and DeAngelo Casto in the post. WSU runs an 8 to 9 man rotation most players receiving 11+ minutes, including a team high 34 by Thompson. Thompson leads the team in scoring with 22.2 per game. He is also second in rebounds with 5.5 on average. He is the team leader in assists and turnovers, averaging 4.4 assists and 3.3 turnovers. Thompson also leads the team in 3 point shooting, though he is slightly lower in percentage than Reggie Moore, hitting 62 of 145 attempts. The match up with Thompson is an important one that will be discussed more in a bit, but first a look at the other players.
  • DeAngelo Casto will be another interesting player whose containment is necessary. He leads the team in rebounding with 6.2 per game and is 3rd in scoring at 10.9 per game. He averages almost 27 minutes per game. Casto is a blocking machine, leading the Pac-10 last year in shots blocked. He is a tough, strong body and can rebound with the best of them. Likely we will see Aziz draw that assignment as it frees up MBA to move out of the post and cover a more mobile and longer ranged offensive player.
  • Faisal Aden has been a pleasant surprise for the Cougars. He is second in scoring at 14.1 points per outing, but he is turnover prone, averaging 2.4 turnovers versus 1.3 assists per game. He has lit up the scoreboards more than once this season and at 6-4 it is highly likely we will again see Scott Suggs or Terrence Ross in the starting line up to avoid a mismatch. It is important to note he came off the bench last game for the Cougars, with Marcus Capers getting the start. Capers also stands 6-4.
  • Reggie Moore is another other distributor and scorer for the Cougars. He is 3rd in assists with 3.3 per game, but also commits 2.1 turnovers. He has been involved in several off court issues and injuries that have limited his play at times this year, but he has been playing much better basketball as of late and is currently averaging 9 points per game. He is leading the team in 3 point percentage at 44% (20 of 45).
  • Abe Lodwick is the final starter for the Cougars. He is picking up 4.4 boards per game, but only adds 3 points on average. He picks up 22 minutes per game and is the least dangerous starter for the Cougars. He is a hybrid guard/forward standing at 6-7. Matthew Bryan-Amaning will likely take this assignment as he has a distinct size and skill advantage the Huskies can really take advantage of.


The big debate of the game is Isaiah Thomas versus Klay Thompson so let’s break it down to per minute stats and additional analysis.
Klay Thompson Isaiah Thomas

Points per minute: .649                            Points per minute: .559

Assists per minute: .129                           Assists per minute: .192

Turnovers per minute: .096                    Turnovers per minute: .082

Rebounds per minute: .161                      Rebounds per minute: .129

So what does this tell us? Thompson is a better scorer and rebounder, but in terms of pure point guard production Isaiah has the distinct advantage. At 6-6 it is no surprise Thompson is able to grab more boards than 5-9 Thomas and it would be dishonest to say Thompson does not have the better outside shot. Against the Arizona schools Thompson averaged 15.5 points, 8.5 assists and 8 rebounds. Thomas averaged 20.5 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds. Similar numbers to be sure. The difference is that Thomas had a much better game against Arizona than Thompson did. Against ASU, both Thomas and Thompson put up similar much more similar numbers.

All this being said, I would much rather have Isaiah Thomas on our team. He is has a higher basketball I.Q., he hustles harder, he is a floor general and leads by example, and most importantly he is a winner through and through. He doesn’t shy away from defeat and knows how to learn from his mistakes. It is also important to note that I.T. and Thompson will not be assigned to one another. Thompson will be guarded by Justin Holiday and I.T. will likely be guarded by Reggie Moore.

In the last outing against WSU, also on the road, Thompson was held to 5 points. In the home game of the same year, Thompson was held to 7. In the 08-09 season Thompson was held to 9 points in the UW home game and 8 points on the road in Pullman. To say the least, UW has a strong history of shutting down Thompson’s scoring regardless of where the teams meet.
The second important match up will be DeAngelo Casto versus MBA. Statistically MBA is clearly the favorite. MBA averages 26.6 minutes per game and Casto averages 26.7 minutes so the stats are directly comparable. MBA has the edge in scoring, rebounding, and turnovers while Casto picks up more blocks and assists. Personally, from a post player I would rather see more points and boards than blocks and assists.

Starting Line Up Predictions:

Washington State

  • Reggie Moore 6-1 180lb G
  • Marcus Capers 6-4 185lb G
  • Klay Thompson 6-6 202lb G
  • Abe Lodwick 6-7 208lb G/F
  • DeAngelo Casto 6-8 255lb F


  • Isaiah Thomas 5-9 185lb G
  • Scott Suggs 6-6 195lb G
  • Justin Holiday 6-6 185lb F
  • Matthew Bryan-Amaning 6-9 240lb F
  • Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb C

Keys to the Game:

  • Rebounding: This is always first and foremost. Good rebounding limits second chance points by opponents and reduces their possessions and shot opportunities. Less possessions equals less points, plain and simple. It also gives your own team more opportunities and second chance points if you can succeed on the offensive glass, something Aziz normally excels at. UW averages 6 more offensive boards per game than WSU.
  • Perimeter Defense: The Cougars may be one of the more diverse and better outside shooting team that the Huskies have faced this season. The Cougars have 5 players with 14+ 3 point makes on the year with the lowest percentage coming from Abe Lodwick at 28.6% (14 of 49). UW will need to extend its pressure to limit the Cougars opportunities from range and trust Aziz and MBA to do their job in the middle applying help defense to driving guards. We will not likely see a zone used against the Cougars as they can hit from range consistently and have several different options to do so.
  • Ball Handling: In the first half against ASU and UA, Washington did a poor job of holding onto the ball. They will need to change this against WSU as it is a road game and mistakes cannot be made if we want to avoid an upset. The best way to do this is to limit Suggs’ time as point guard and maximize how often I.T. and Overton are on the court. They are our two bets ball handlers and distributors.
  • Passing/Movement: UW always succeeds when they pass extremely well. WSU plays tough man defense and the Dawgs will need to move and pass well to get shot opportunities. Getting the ball into the post should be the main option to start the game. MBA will have a great size advantage over Lodwick and can do a lot of damage from the 4 spot. Look for I.T. to drive and dish as he has done almost every game this conference season.
  • Free Throws: Free throws win close ball games. At home you can hit 3’s. On the road you have to make your free throws. Those are both old, but very true, mantras that our team needs to live by, remember, and execute. More often than not the home team will have the advantage when it comes to free throw shooting, meaning UW will see less time at the line than WSU and needs to capitalize on what limited opportunities we are given. MBA had a fantastic outing against ASU going 8-8 from the line and should look to continue his success. I.T. was also solid at 8-10. 80% is a good percentage, I’ll even take 70% from our big men. Lower than that will hurt us severely.

Final Thoughts

This will be a tough battle for sure. This rivalry game always drives both teams to bring their A-game. The Huskies have the talent and bench to outperform the Cougars as long as UW avoids playing down to their opponent and allowing the Cougars from getting into a shooting rhythm from range. We will need one of the Three Headed Monster Suggs, Ross, and Wilcox to be hitting from behind the arc. Darnell Gant will likely continue to impress on the glass off the bench. MBA, Holiday, and I.T. should all have fantastic days. Holiday is the most likely to have his production and effort show up in ways other than points as he draws, arguably, the most important defensive assignment of the game. Shutting down Thompson, and Aden when he comes off the bench, will go a long ways towards winning on Sunday.

Final Score Prediction

UW-78 WSU-70
It will be close throughout and UW will seal the win late in the game from the free throw line with Venoy Overton or Thomas making the majority of those shots. If UW plays great defense and finds its 3 point shot on the road this game could have a wider margin of victory.