Washington vs Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State and Washington come into Saturday’s Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series tilt looking for some consistency on the floor. Both teams were involved in preseason tournaments in New York and Hawaii; however, neither team was able to fully capitalize on the opportunity of playing against some of the best teams in the country on a national stage.
The Washington Huskies (4-2) and head coach Lorenzo Romar lost consecutive games to then-ranked Syracuse University and Texas A&M in the preseason NIT, adding a big blow to their chances of making an early season impression on the Selection Committee. In both game, the Huskies looked overmatched against teams that could hit from long range.
Washington has relied heavily on the junior forward John Brockman for most of the scoring and rebounding. Even at an undersized 6-7, Brockman has found a way to use his wide frame to keep opponents out of the paint while averaging a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds per game. Junior guard Justin Dentmon runs the show from the perimeter, averaging 13 points and almost four assists per game. Both Brockman and Dentmon average over 30 minutes per game for a Washington team that can ill afford to lose either to foul trouble or injury.
Oklahoma State (2-3) is almost a mirror image of the Huskies early on in the season. The Cowboys fell to Marquette by 30, and Illinois by 16 at the EA Sports Maui Invitatoinal, proving again that away from Gallagher-Iba, the Cowboys are just another average basketball team.
OSU has relied heavily on three players early on, forward Marcus Dove, guard James Anderson, and guard Terrel Harris. All three players are averaging over 30 minutes per game, and like Washington, all three are irreplaceable. If Oklahoma State has one issue right now that needs to be answered more than any other, it would be the sudden disappearance of point guard Byron Eaton on the court.
After taking the league by storm last year, Eaton has seen his minutes dip the last couple of games, forcing head coach Sean Sutton to wonder if his junior point guard is mentally ready for the challenge of leading the Cowboys into Big 12 conference games.
The gameplan for Oklahoma State should be simple: Stop John Brockman. It is a known fact that as Brockman goes, so do the Washington Huskies. That should mean Sutton and the Cowboys should be prepared to double-team the forward most of the night, and force the rest of the Washington team to beat them from the perimeter.
This is a home game for Oklahoma State, and while I don’t necessarily like the team they put out on the floor right now, they do seem to matchup fairly well with an undersized Washington team.
The homecourt advantage is still enough to give Oklahoma State the edge in a game that should be decided by 5-7 points.