by Joel Welser
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, Second Round loss to Vanderbilt
Coach: Tony Bennett (1-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Taylor Rochestie, Junior, Guard
Derrick Low, Senior, Guard
Kyle Weaver, Senior, Guard
Robbie Cowgill, Senior, Forward
Aron Baynes, Junior, Center
Nikola Koprivica, Sophomore, Guard
Daven Harmeling, Junior, Forward
Caleb Forrest, Junior, Forward
Why They Can Surprise:
You can never argue against the system. Coach Tony Bennett has continued the recent success in Pullman this year by sharing the ball and, more importantly, taking care of the ball. Last year the NCAA Tournament was a new experience for everybody at Washington State. This year they have all been there before.
The tremendous ball control and the meager 10.3 turnovers per game can be credited to the backcourt of Kyle Weaver, Derrick Low and Taylor Rochestie. Weaver will do a bit of everything and is second on the team in assists and rebounding and is the best defender on the squad. He is not the greatest outside shooter on the team, although that has improved a little bit this year, but he can still score by getting to the basket. Low is the team’s leading scorer and best outside shooter and Rochestie has gone from being a spark off the bench to having one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the nation.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The Cougars can have some trouble on the glass and will get outrebounded once they advance a game or two in the tournament. But that is all part of the system. It is more important to get back on defense than go for an offensive rebound, so at least it is something they are used to dealing with. The lack of depth in the backcourt is a bigger cause for concern. Weaver, Low and Rochestie all average at least 32 minutes per game and that will start to wear on them sooner or later.
Who To Watch:
Robbie Cowgill, Aron Baynes and Daven Harmeling are not the most intimidating frontcourt in the Pac-10, but they excel in the Cougars style of play. Cowgill has some smooth moves under the basket and, like most Cougars, can step outside and hit the mid-range jumper or find an open teammate. Baynes has stepped into the starting lineup and has become the big bruising scoring threat the team desperately needed. Harmeling is more of a large, sharpshooting wing than a big man, but he can play the three or four spots and has plenty of starting experience from last season.
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