Archive for the ‘Conference Preview’ Category

Brinkhater’s Season Basketball PRE View

November 15, 2008

Happy Saturday to you all, Cougar Nation.

Hard to believe, but today is GAME DAY for the 2008-09 Basketball season, so I thought I’d give you my annual PRE view of the upcoming tilt.

Like my dear friend and colleague Vincent Grippi noted last week on Sportslink, there are a lot of Blogs out there with a bunch of yahoos who have not been to practice, not watched video, and not talked to any players, coaches, or anyone who has a real idea about what is going on inside the program.

Sound like anyone to you?

Exactly.

Which is why I once again am going to give you all a quick glimpse into what I am looking for heading into this very important 2008-09 campaign.

But first, here’s the BIG picture:

1) This basketball season portends to be the equivalent of our 2003 Football team. I am actually expecting big things out of this group.

2) Next year will be a somewhat down year for the program, so I urge you all to really enjoy this year. I think its going to be really fun!

3) Brinkhater is predicting a 9-4 preseason.

4) Brinkhater is also predicting an 11-7 conference (t-4, Pac-10 gets five births with a low seed for us because of few quality wins).

5) Brinkhater is further predicting an 11 seed in the NCAA tournament.

6) Brinkhater sees us winning a 1st round NCAA game, winning a second game, and bowing out once again in the Sweet 16.

But for this fairy tale season to reach its fruition, let me give you what I think NEEDS to happen and then follow up with what I am assuming will happen.

THINGS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN

1) Marcus Capers’ Floor Leadership

If you all have been reading, you know that Marcus is the 6 foot 4 point guard out of Florida that Rochestie gave his scholarship up for (initially). Of all of the accolades thrown at this kid, the biggest upside he is supposed to carry is his defense–which is a good thing! But what this team is going to need more than that is for him to become a steady floor general.

Last year, one of our main achillees heels was our lack of depth in the backcourt. Thankfully, we overcame that depth issue because both Low and Weaver were able to assume the point guard duties when a) we needed Taylor to shoot the rock and b) when the guy sat down to get a blow.

Unless I missed something, we have no Weaver, and while I love Cassius Klay Thompson (see next), he isn’t a point guard. Capers will have to play well in the conference for us to do anything. Thus, I will be looking closely at his minutes in the pre-season. Hopefully, T-Bone will throw this kid to the Wolves even if it costs us against Pitt, Baylor, and/or LSU. We need this kid to develop in a hurry.

2) Cassius Klay Thompson MUST be Efficient

Nation, there’s a lot about this team that I haven’t seen. But, Klay Thompson I have seen–in the 2008 California State Championship game. Nation, this guy is a Kyle Weaver (not as good defensively, but who is or ever will be?) and Ike Fontaine mix. He is NBA special.

That said, we all remember the type of “off” nights that freshmen stars OJ Mayo had last year don’t we?

With the make-up of our team, we simply will not be able to stand many 7-20 nights because we don’t create enough possessions to compensate for being innefficient. I look for Thompson to get a few Dick Bennett style lashings from T-Bone early on.

But then, look out. This kid WILL score over 30 in a game this year.

3) Baynes’ Feet and (Half) Courtvision MUST Improve

Last year in the NCAA tourney Baynes was the only Cougar in my book who rose to the moment on the national stage. Now, with Love and the Dummy Twins out of the League, Baynes figures to be your first team All-Conference center.

But, in order for him to ascend to such honors, there are two basic things he must do to improve his offense and defense.

First, on the defensive side, he needs to keep his feet. Last year, on two many occasions, Baynes was airborne after the first pumpfake. The result: fouls and duck-unders by Love and other savy 4’s and 5’s which would also give away the glass. This year, with the potential talents of Casto (and maybe Watson) in the mix, Baynes should realy just make people shoot over him. If he does, his rebounding totals should increase nicely. Even more importantly, he’ll be in the stinking game.

Now on offense, Baynes needs to be quicker to recognize the double team and needs to distribute much better than he’s done in the past. Last year, when we tried to establish Baynes early, he was often painfully slow and deliberate, and as a result, so were we. This year, we won’t be good enough defensively to score only 4-6 points in the first 8 minutes of games. Baynes will average 14 and 8 this year. But HOW he does that will be what matters for our fortunes.

3)Harmeling’s Jumper Must Have a Prayer

Two years ago, Harmeling was the 28 point bombshell against Gonzaga and Arizona. Last year, he fell off the map.

This year, he simply needs to shoot well from anywhere. If he can shoot well from behind the arc, then we will challenge for the second spot in the conference. But what we really, really need is for him to just shoot well in the midrange game. Remember, in games last year where Cowgill hit the 12-15 jumper off the glass, we KILLED teams. If Harmeling can stretch the defense at the 4, then Baynes has space to go off and the slashers like Nick and Thompson have room to take the ball to the rack. THAT leads to dish-offs to Baynes and the take-off of this basketball team.

Just like last year, Harmeling is your X man.

WHAT BRINKHATER’S BANKING ON

1) Nick’s Steady Play

There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Nicky boy to fill the shoes left by Kyle Weaver. But, I’m trusting that he’s been through enough to not get bogged down by that pressure. I think Nick is going to be a solid guy on the baseline. And, from what I’ve seen in past years, a capable man in the pack defense. Remember, this team will be starting FOUR GUYS that have been in the program for three years. So, he should be able to be the steady Eddy that we need him to be.

2) Casto’s Emergence as ‘The Real Deal’ by season’s end.

If you want to know why I have the audicity to think that this team is going back to the Sweet 16 it is because of this kid. After decades of watching the tourney, the recipe for advancing is simple: good guard play and shot blocking underneath. With Casto, we’re going to have the latter (and the former with Rochestie, Thompson, and bench). While I’ve heard that his timing is natural, I suspect that there will be some short performances for this kid early on (like 4 fouls in 15 minutes). But, as the season progresses, I am banking that he will develop the discipline necessary for us to emerge among the nation’s elite.

3) Improved Shooting

It may be hard to remember this, but there were several games and stretches last year where Rochestie was the only guy on the team that could hit the broad side of a barn. This year, with Rochestie taking more of a role in the offense, with a leaner and more polished Baynes, and with Thompson’s long range genius (wait til you see it!), this team will be much improved offensively. The question, of course, is how much we will drop-off defensively. With improved shot-blocking and a deeper 3-Point line, I’m guessing not much.

4) Taylor Stays Healthy

We can’t afford to lose Baynes for a long stretch at any time this year. But losing Taylor would flush the season down the toilet. I’m banking that Taylor stays healthy. And I’m also banking that there’s nothing called a “Brinkhater Curse.”

Final Thought:

I really do believe that this is a 2003 WSU Football type season. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it, because at this point, we all could use a few Cougar Victories.

And, thanks to T-Bone and company, we’re going to get about 23-24 of them this year.

(WSU 71 MSVSU 48 in the opener)

Predicting the Conference: Brinkhatertology

July 23, 2008

“Hey Lennie, when we’re done with the Preview, do you think we can go pet some rabbits?”


Seasons Greetings to you, Cougar Nation and the rest of the Brinkhater Army! Hope you’re all having a great week.

Well, if this Preview Week for the WSU Football Blog is titled “Of Mice and Men,” then Sedihawk’s and Hooty’s two previews represent “The Men

(AND this one’s for you, Michele and Cougar Jen):


and I, Sir Alex Brinkhater (formely known as), represent the Mice.

So, for all you nibblers out there, this money-in-the-bank preview is for you!

Because my IQ is just above 86, I don’t have the capacity to look at things real complex-like as the other Blogfathers.


However, as the past couple of seasons doth hath shown, I HAVE been able to use my limited faculties to develop a system that has kept established pros like the Evil Vince Grippy and Benedict Condotta scared and on their toes.


My system?

Well, I like to call it “Brinkhatertology.”

However, for those of you Brinkhater-haters out there, you may refer to it simply as “stating the obvious.”

So, without further ado, here is the framework I’ve employed to see the Forrest from the Trees.


Brinkhater-tology Principle Numero Uno:“In order to win games, you have to score more points than the other team.”

(Its an amazing and profound fact when you really think about it!)

So, here is how I’ve squeezed all 12 of my braincells around the first (and ONLY) component of my methodology:

“In order to score more than the other team, you can do a couple of things:

1) Stop The Other Team From Scoring
2) Score A Lot Yourself
3) Stop the Other Team from scoring AND Score A LOT Yourself. “

(Are you feeling the genius yet, y’all???)

So, with the above all in mind, I have broken out my anal-y-sis into four neat little categories:

1) Teams that can score and stop
2) Teams that can stop, but not score
3) Teams that can score, but not stop
4) Teams that can neither score nor stop.

For this preview, each Crap-10 team is slated under a specific category and in rank order for that category.

You should also know that Brinkhater believes that defense ultimately wins more games over the course of a season, so I’ve tried to rank teams with better defenses ahead of ones that I believe are effectively “more worse.”

TEAMS that CAN score and Stop.

1) USC. Not much surprise here. I will say, however, that I’m not totally sold on this Sanchez kid. If he hadn’t gotten invaluable experience last year–most notably the Oregon game–I’d be pretty shaky on SC as an absolute shoe-in for the conference title.

While SC has shown itself to ALWAYS be the best 10-2 team of all time when they get to 2 losses, its REAL easy to overlook the fact that the ONLY first year SC QB to lead SC to a National Title was Matty L and even he lost a conference game that year. In the end, SC’s Defense will be too much for other teams to overcome.

2) ASU. Lots of experience at both the QB position and on defense. ASU is a bonafide contender for the conference this year, but don’t be surprised if they fall off if things don’t go well early. For me, ASU has HUGE potential to make the BCS, but they also carry enough of a bandit quality that they can accomplish a complete nose dive if the team falls off their own lofty expectations early in the season.

Teams that CAN stop but CAN’T Score

1) Oregon. I know that all you quackers out there are going to rail at the notion that your offense will be slowed this year. But in reponse, I want you all to remember that part of a Duck’s duty is to stick its butt up in the air for a little bit every now and then.


While the Defense may lead the Quack to a Top 2 finish this year, Oregon teams typically hit mediocrity in the face (over the course of a season) without established leadership on offense. And, as I’ve not-so-jokingly noted here before, the quit and fold factor is SO huge for all Belotti coached teams.

Granted, I think that Oregon has a real chance to contend, but a 7-5 type year is also a real possibility for this crew. Simply put, I’m not sure you can lose a Heisman winner (which Dixon would have been sans injury) and a first round RB and not drop off no matter how talented you think you are.

2) UCLA. New coach. Two elite coordinators–one of which is returning as the BEST D-Coordinator in the conference. The Bruins D is going to be stingy at times, while the offense will be absolutely atrocious. In fact, I peg them as the WORST offense in the conference.

IF UCLA finishes mid- or upper- division this year it will be because the Defense creates turnovers and the special teams are lights out. Don’t count on it.

Teams that CAN score but CAN’T Stop

1) Arizona. This team is the darkhorse of the conference. On paper, you have ALL of this returning talent on an offense that was Brink-like explosive: LOTS of YARDS, very few points. In fact, the Mildcats ranked #56 last year in scoring offense. So, while Brinkhater loves their ability to move the ball between the 20’s, real questions remain as to whether or not they will be able to score. IF they are able to solve their redzone woes, and IF their young defense improves during their cupcake non-conference, then this team will be REALLY good. IF not, Stoops will not have to worry about Stooping any lower.

2) WSU. This is where I differ from all the other pundits. As discussed last week, the general sentiment is that this offense will be as bad as our defense (maybe, the worst ever if injuries hit the line). I, on the other hand, think that the offense is going to be great. And when you factor in that there are going to be several teams that will have a REAL tough time scoring a lot of points–even against us–then you have a case for a middle-of-the-road finish.

I think our red-zone production is going to be solid in terms of generating TDs given Rogers’ arm strength and I think our improved kicking game will mean more points and improved field position. That said, if Rogers sputters as others (NOT ME) have predicted, then this team falls near the bottom of the following list–and real fast. Remember, our defense threatens to be historically bad.

Teams that CAN NOT do anything (really) well:

1) Oregon State. Call me Cwazy, but I don’t see anything bright about the Beavs this year (yes, Stroughter is good, but that ain’t enough to overcome poor QB play and ALL of your losses on defense). But, the Beavs DO have the most moxy of ANY team in the conference over the last two years. In my view, this is the obvious “down year” for the Beavs. If they don’t fall way off, then we will truly know that Riley has built the OSU program into who and what WE as Cougars want to become in the next five years.

2) Washington. Word to Cougar fans: NEXT year the Huskies will finish top 3 in the conference and, barring injury, Jake the Snake will finish in the Top 2 in the Heisman race. But this year, I just don’t see it. Locker will be lucky to walk out of Autzen following the season opener. While I think that this kid IS special now, I see no weapons beyond his line to help him out. And that, my friends, won’t translate into points. And ya, the D is improved, but could it be any worse? Not a lot of points, they’ll score less than 22 a game, and no winning seasons in an entire generation. HOLD YOUR NOSE, Montlake. You should’ve fired Ty when you had the chance.

3) Stanford. I love Captain Comeback. And I love Pritchard’s moxy. But this team will stink this year. Are they a winless bunch? Probably not, but a 1-8 or 2-7 finish sure looks to be “in the Cards.”

The “I DUNNO” Category:
1) CAL. What can you say? The oft-injured Nate Longshore has a TON of big game experience. Gregory has done a really nice job with the D, and Tedford is a really, really good coach. At the same time, despite having ALL the talent in the world the past couple of years, CAL has not been able to knock down the door.

That said, perhaps Longshore takes a final step forward this year a la Clemens did with the Quack a few years back? If so, the Bears may be really good! But, if they struggle to move the ball like the second half of last year, then a Week 2 loss to WSU is possible. And if that happens, bring out the life boats on the rest of the Bears’ season.

Predicted Order of Finish:

1) USC
2) Oregon (yep the D is that good)
3) Arizona State
4) Arizona (a good offseason helps to iron out rough spots in last year’s new offense)
5) CAL (Dunno what to do? Sit squarely on the fence!)
6) Washington State (It’ll be a nice set up for when we REALLY finish 10th–next year)
7) Oregon State
8) UCLA
9) Washington (I see no scenario where Locker makes it past week 7)
10) Stanford

Give us your thoughts and enjoy the rest of your week!