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Jeff Eisenberg

Know thy enemy: Opposing coaches size up Washington vs WVU

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The Dagger asked an assistant coach whose team faced Washington and one whose team faced West Virginia to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their former opponent. The coaches were granted anonymity to assure honesty.

Opposing coach on Washington:

"I really think it begins and ends for them with their defensive energy because they create so much offense out of their defense. They're really good defensively. They're going to get up in you, they're going to deny everything and they're going to force you to put it on the floor and go backdoor. When they're creating their offense from their defense, that's the Washington everyone is seeing now ... We put our 5-man on (Quincy) Pondexter because then we thought Pondexter might float to the perimeter and we'd rather play him out there than in the post. He's really good when he gets on the block, faces up and makes plays ... You hear a lot about West Virginia going to the offensive glass hard, but so does Washington. You know before you even think about running, you better get the rebound because they're going to send four at the glass and they figure their pressure is good enough that they don't even have to worry about you running out on them ... A physical defender can really frustrate Isaiah Thomas. He likes to play free and easy. He really likes to go where he wants to go, make shots and make plays, and all of a sudden if there's someone who's stronger than him, bumping him and screening him, that could work against him."

Opposing coach on West Virginia:

"(Not having Truck Bryant) is huge because the one thing Washington will do is they will pick you up 94 feet, get up into the point guard and make you work. And Washington will force whoever it is to put it down and go make plays. I wouldn't be shocked to see West Virginia put it in Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler's hands and let them make plays ... The best way to stop Butler is to limit his catches. I know it's hard because Butler's a guy that is very good without the ball, but he's such a scorer that he feels like he needs to score for them to win. If everything he does is contested, he's going to get 14 or 15, but if he's not hitting wide-open threes or getting to the rim, I think it could be frustrating for him. He has that mindset that he leads the team to win ... I think I'd pick West Virginia in this game. I like their inside game and I think Washington's going to struggle going by people because of their defense. West Virginia will get consistent production in the paint, whereas (Matthew) Bryan-Amaning has had nice games, but he's also had games where he's been non-existant."

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