WSU’s defense takes a massive step forward

The Cougs have held three straight opponents to ridiculously low efficiencies.

The Washington State Cougars had been a defense-forward team for the first three years of Kyle Smith’s tenure, ranking in the top 30 nationally in kenpom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency the last two seasons. However, season four saw that script flip, with the offense leading the way.

On January 20 — fresh off giving up a whopping 1.25 points per possession to Utah — the Cougars ranked 53rd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 93rd in adjusted defensive efficiency.

It led to us asking a lot of questions about what happened. Some of it is explained by losing a premier rim protector in Efe Abogidi and another very good rim protector/space eater in Dishon Jackson. But the problems seemed to run a little deeper than that.

Fast forward to today: In the span of three games, WSU has risen all the way to 55th in defense.

That’s because the Cougars have put together the most dominant three-game defensive stretch in Smith’s tenure at WSU, holding Colorado, Arizona, and Arizona state under 0.90 points per possession each. That’s the first time the Cougs have done that to Pac-12 opponents under Smith.

How have they been able to get back to their roots? We discuss on this week’s Podcast Vs. Everyone:

Additionally: Women’s basketball had an even better weekend, marking the return of superstar guard Charlisse Leger-Walker with a pair of wins in the desert — including over ranked Arizona. The most incredible part? Leger-Walker didn’t even play all that well. Kamie Ethridge has something special brewing with her program.

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