EWU vs. Portland State and NAU Preview

Published on 28 December 2021 at 16:45

Eastern Washington PSU Preview: 


FILM LINK:  https://youtu.be/t4iy7KH2fwg


The 2-8 Eagles are coming into the second weekend of Big Sky competition off a home loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, but for those that are paying attention, this very young squad is starting to show signs of winning basketball. Just three days before playing Gonzaga they more than held their own against the Washington Huskies in Seattle and the very next day played 8-4 Nevada Wolfpack tough.


Six of the eight players getting more than 17 minutes a game are freshman or sophomores. This matchup against the Vikings could present some offensive issues for the Eagles as they have not played much against zone defense this year (57 possessions 8.8%). The Vikings play a Syracuse style 2-3 all game, it will take some patience from the Eagles on the offensive end of the floor to figure out how to attack it. The Eagles will need to come up with a plan in how to attack this zone. How coach Gleason and staff decide to attack this zone will be interesting. 


Matchups to Watch versus Portland State


Zylack/Pettis vs. Morales: This will be a battle of three talented freshman point guards. Because the Vikings play zone the entire game this matchup won’t be typical, but the fact all three of these players are playing significant minutes is important to how well their teams play. All three play the point position, but there is a contrast in styles between the two sides. Both Zylack (5.3 PPG and 3.6 APG) and Pettis (8.1 PPG and 41% from 3 on 12-29 attempts) are more traditional point guards running the team’s offense, distributing the ball, and keeping the Eagle’s attack downhill.  Zylack is pretty crafty in the P&R game and does a good job of scoring, finding the roller, or kicking out to shooters.  Pettis is a  good spot-up shooter (1.17 PPP)  and provides a good shooting punch for the Eagles. Morales is more of a modern point guard looking to score and attack the basket with drives and keeping the defense off-balance with the 3 point line (14.3 PPG, 35.6% from 3 on 21-59 attempts which translates to 1.13 PPP and a 45:29 assist to turnover ratio). Another factor to consider is Morales is more important to the success of the Vikings than both Pettis and Zylack are for the Eagles.  


Martin vs Fitzgerald: This is another matchup between two very talented freshmen. Martin (16.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 33.7% from 3 on 29-86 attempts) is a high-volume shooter (100 more shot attempts than any other teammate) with a quick release and gets more of her points from the perimeter. While Fitzgerald (9.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG) is more of a driver (second on the team in free-throw attempts at 27 attempts) and wants to attack the defense off the bounce. Again, because the Vikings play zone it won’t be a true matchup, but they both will have an impact on the game. Martin will be looking to exploit the PSU zone and find the holes to get her perimeter attempts while Fitzgerald will be looking to attack the Eagle defense with the dribble. If Marting gets hot from the perimeter and gets some help scoring from some other teammates that could spell disaster for PSU. Both are very good in transition as well. Martin averages (1.023 PPP) and Fitzgerald (1.0 PPP) in transition opportunities. 


Other Key Players:


Lawrence & Buckley EWU: Lawrence (8.2 PPG 3.9 RPG and 52% from 3 on 12-23 attempts) and Buckley (10 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 34.8% from 3 on 8-23 attempts) are two other threats the Eagles have that can score from behind the arch, in transition and off of the bounce. PSU will need to make sure to locate these two in the zone as well because they are very capable of stepping up and hitting from behind the arch. Like most Eagle players, they are very good at playing in transition.   

Lewis & Dhaliwal PSU: Lewis (10.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG) a big three-point threat for the Vikings (40% on 24-60 attempts 1.10 PPP) will be someone the Eagles need to limit attempts from behind the arch. Lewis can also put the ball on the floor and attack in the PNR and DHO actions. The Vikings run a lot of continuity offensive schemes and Lewis allows them flexibility with another ball-handler in the offense.  Dhaliwal (11 PPG, 6.1 RPG) has a very physical post presence that will not wow you with her athletic ability or speed but will provide a solid scoring threat down low with a variety of moves on the block. She is a very tough and physical player and she must be contained on the glass as one-third of her 61 rebounds are offensive (1.14 PPP)


Keys For EWU: 



The Eagles will need to find ways to attack this PSU zone. They cannot settle for early shots or one-pass shoot possessions consistently against this zone. Currently, the Vikings are only allowing opponents to shoot 22% from 3FG (.763 PPP), and often this young Eagle team gets into a habit of taking ill-advised early shots. Shot selection will allow the Eagles to help themselves in defensive transition. One way we have seen the Eagles attack a zone is with an inside ball screen. This is a great way to attack the PSU zone while overloading the weakside with the ball coming at them (seen in the film). Other areas to attack the PSU you zone are from the short corners and flashes to the high post from the backside. (you can see how Portland and Idaho State attacked the zone in our other film break down here).



The Eagles will need to be prepared for any type of continuity schemes the Vikings like to play. Plenty of PNR/DHO, back screens, and cuts will be in play. How will the Eagles guard all these types of actions? This will be a key factor on this end of the floor. Guarding Morales and limiting the leading scorer from getting to the basket and uncontested three-point attempts will be very important. Can the Eagles make Morales settle for the mid-range jump shot? If so can Morales effectively hit a dribble pull up or will she become more of a distributor and allow other players to shine for the Vikings. If Morales is not effective on the offensive end of the floor look for Lewis or Fitzgerald to help from the perimeter and Dhaliwal to be effective on the offensive glass. 

NAU Preview


This game could be a track meet. The Eagles and the Lumberjacks both like to get up shots, push the ball in transition, and in our opinion place more emphasis on the offensive side of the ball. With both teams having very capable scorers and some great shooters, this could be a very high-scoring affair. NAU also likes to play tempo pressure and will pick up full or three-quarter court. They are also very deep and can bring waves of players on the floor to wear down their opponents. Ten Lumberjack players play ten or more minutes a game. Just like with the PSU matchup, the Eagles cannot fall into the trap of taking too many early shots that will lead to easy transition baskets for the Lumberjacks. Zylack and Pettis will have plenty of opportunities to show coach Gleason they control the tempo she wants.  


Matchups to watch vs NAU


Knowles vs. Rasheed: Rasheed (11 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 1.26 PPP from the post) is a huge threat down low and for an undersized post knows how to score against bigger defenders. Knowles (6.1 PPG and 5.2 RPG 1.17 PPP post defense) more of a role player for the Eagles will be key in our opinion with having the task of slowing down Rasheed. This could be a very physical matchup between two very physical players. Knowles will need to limit Rasheed from establishing deep post position. If she can beat Rasheed to the spots on the floor, push her off of Rasheed’s sweet spots, Knowles will have a chance of making a difference on the defensive side of the floor. 


Lawrence vs. Radford: Rookie versus experience in this matchup. Lawrence another talented freshman for the Eagles we think will matchup against Radford (10.3 PPG 55% from 3 on 22-40 attempts). Radford is a three points specialist for the Lumberjacks (1.7 PPP from 3). Lawrence has the athletic advantage and if the Eagles can get out in transition (1.06 PPP in transition) after stops Lawrence should be able to take advantage of those opportunities. Lawrence is also a more than capable shooter from behind the arch and can also potentially expose Radford off the dribble. 


Martin vs. Orndoff: We think this will be the matchup to start the game. Orndoff a senior will have the experience factor going for her but if this is the matchup to start the game, she will have her hands full guarding Martin.  Orndoff is not a great defender allowing .983 PPP so she will have to be dialed in on the defensive end of the floor.  Orndoff is savvy on offense and currently averages 10.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG and is 7-19 from 3 shooting 36.8%. Martin is going to look to attack Orndoff on every opportunity she can and we look for Martin to get the best of this matchup.  Look for Martin to score in a variety of ways in this game. If we are right in the game being a track meet, Martin should score in transition, drives to the rim and jump shots from a variety of areas on the floor. 


Other Key Players: 


Buckley, Pettis, and Zylack EWU: We are not sure who Buckley will match up within this game, but she will provide scoring and provide lots of transition opportunities (1.33 PPP in transition) for the Eagles. Buckley is also a three-point threat for the Eagles shooting almost 35% from behind the arch. Both Zylack and Pettis will take care of the ball-handling duties. Will both of these freshmen be able to control the tempo of the game when NAU is applying full-court pressure? After breaking pressure will they be able to run the Eagle offense and get them into the actions coach Gleason wants to run against the Lumberjacks. 


Schenck, Rodabaugh, Miki’ala, Nakai NAU: Like we mentioned NAU is deep and plays a lot of players. Here are some others that could potentially have a big impact on this matchup. Schenck one of the most prolific passing players in the Big Sky has seemed to be more of a facilitator this year and her scoring is down. But don’t let that fool you. She can score. Last year she averaged 11.4 PPG, shot 43.8% from 3 on 35-80 attempts, 6.8 RPG, and handed out 5.1 APG. This year it seems she has taken a back seat in the scoring and is more focused on facilitating for coach Payne(currently leading the BSC in assists per game at 6.5 APG). A sleeper in the scoring department for the Lumberjacks is Rodabaugh. She can score in bunches from behind the arch and in transition (shooting 53.5% on 16-30 attempts,1.33 PPP from 3). The Eagles will need to give her respect when on the floor as a capable scorer who can get hot quickly.  Miki’ala a mid-range specialist is capable of scoring in volume and Nakai who has only played in the last few games add real scoring power for NAU on the perimeter. 


Keys for EWU:


Defensively: The young Eagles will have their hands full with the Lumberjacks. Getting back and loading to the ball in transition and building their defense early, contesting shots from the arch, and limiting the Lumberjacks to one-shot will be huge factors for the Eagles. The Lumberjacks are deep and the players they bring in off the bench are all capable of scoring in bunches. The Eagles will need to be dialed in fundamentally and in communication on this end of the floor to have a chance. 


Offensively: Will Martin get help from the supporting cast. You can be sure that Coach Payne is making Martin a key area on the scouting report, but players such as Buckley and Lawrence are capable of scoring in bunches for the Eagles, and will they be able to help Martin enough to help outscore NAU. Can the Eagles control the tempo of this game? Do they want to? Maybe they want to run with the Lumberjacks. The tempo of the game will be key in how wins. EWU scores 65.1 PPG and allows 64.8 PPG, while the Lumberjacks average 75.3 PPG and give up 74.2 PPG. 

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