Archive for February, 2008

Dancing

February 29, 2008

Yep, put on the tap shoes, Grandma, because the Washington State Cougars are headed to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.

And wow, you saw tonight that when this team can score, it is absolutely dominant.

While I WHIFFED on the margin of victory, we DID see the start of some really, really nice cross screens from our post players up high. And, not surprisingly, we saw some really nice lanes to the basket. We also saw some nice open looks from the perimeter as a result as well (isn’t it amazing how Low looks when he can actually catch the ball facing the basket???)

And the stat line was proof with Weaver, Low, and Rochestie all above 15pts…

Overall, this team is now playing the way that it should play. And my sense is that the new offensive wrinkles will be firmly in place by the time that the Pac-10 tourney rolls around.

We’re peaking at the right time folks, its simply a matter of avoiding the type of periodic brick fest that doomed us against Arizona.

It will be fun to see how this all plays out,

IN THE NCAA FRICKING TOURNEY!!!!!!

Congrats Seniors on Making History!

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Beware

February 28, 2008

Don’t let the cute face fool you, the man is an absolute assassin.

The key to tonight, and potentially our season, is to slow this man down. Let Ryan Anderson go off as he did in the previous meeting and CAL is a very, very difficult team to beat.

Moreover, as we noted here last week, CAL is a light version of Arizona–this is a team that we do NOT match up with that well. Man, do I hate the tall prolific wing man….

So, its going to be a nip and tuck affair all the way through.

Aside from how we do with Mr. Anderson tonight, I think that the other key to watch is how we set up offensively. As I have noted periodically through the season, our inability to make teams pay for the overplay (particularly up top) is nothing short of alarming. Currently, team after team after team (with the NOTABLE exception of SC) have crowded us up top and jumped all of our high ball screens. The result has been few open looks for guys like Low who represent our primary play makers.

Of course, the key to the overplay is simply to cut backdoor–which we have largely failed to do. Part of that, in my view, has to do with the presence of Baynes just camped down on the low block. In effect, his post position has largely served to crowd the very lanes that our dudes need to use to cut to the basket.

So, I am hopeful that we will see much more of a high post offense over the weekend. Since Forrest appears to be primed for more minutes, a high post set should open up some passing lanes and back-door cuts and allow Caleb to knock down those 12-14 foot J’s that he likes so much.

In any case, look for Rochestie to rebound a bit from his shooting slump. I also look for a high, high energy game from Mr. Robbie Cowgill who HAS played much better of late. I also think either Weaver or Low will have a nice night.

This one is going to be hard to watch folks. I say we win it 56-55 in a heartstopper. But, if Anderson goes off, this same score with go in the other direction.

We simply, simply must contain him.

“Enjoy” this one.

Tuesday Grind

February 26, 2008

Good lord, what an athlete. That was 50 lbs and 5 kids ago, but still, the Reign Man was shockingly amazing. Youtube search Shawn Kemp some time, and the highlights are overwhelming.

Why lead off with a picture of Shawn Kemp and the Sonics? Because Save Our Sonics has come forward with a compelling letter to the NBA Board of Governors, outlining the reasons – with FACTS no less! – as to why the NBA would be foolish to allow the Sonics to move. I won’t re-post the letter as it’s far too long, but it’s a very, very good read. I know some of you give a collective “meh” when it comes to the NBA, but I encourage you all to read it right here. Just taking off the green-n-gold glasses for a moment, when you read that letter you realize just how flippin’ INSANE the whole idea actually is.

Other things floating around:

  • So Alex Brink believes he opened some eyes at the combine? Great. I know this is open fodder for Brinkhater, and the kid has taken a lot of crap from all angles, but I hope he makes it.
  • Bud Withers has weighed in on his Tony Bennett view. Interesting angle that our own Brinkhater has brought up before, but the idea of what Pullman is, and that it’s not the 24/7/365 pressure cooker that is hoops in Bloomington. Maybe his sister will help him see the light, that it might be nice to double your salary, but at the same time, the grass isn’t always greener? Withers himself said she resigned and is “out of the business.”

What I wonder about is what are Tony’s ultimate goals? Withers lays out the idea of how father Dick stuck it out for a long time at WISC-Stevens Point and WISC-GB before finally getting to Wisconsin. Maybe there is something to the idea of building and learning something of substance at your current situation, and only move on when you’ve learned what is to be learned and experienced everything that you can? OR, as WSU Football Blog has been told by a “source” in the past, does Tony have his sights set much higher than his Dad ever did in the business? As in, the NBA?? Remember, Tony played briefly in the NBA, he was overseas for a bit, and he’s been an assistant and now a head coach at BCS conference schools. He’s had a real taste of the hoops business, on all angles. Maybe he knows what he wants to do and we’re just part of the plan? We’ve also been told this week that Sterk is currently “sweating this one out”. We’ll see how this goes, but the rumor-mongering is in full swing around the local scribes.

  • Have ya SEEN the new Bracketology from Joe Lunardi, the most accurate bracket-seeding picker around? We’ve now slid down to a 7-seed, with a first-round match-up vs. St. Joseph’s. But what’s looming in the 2nd round is pretty scary, a match-up with 2-seed Duke….in Raleigh, NC!?!? Double-yikes. Let’s hope we don’t slide down to “bubble watch”, because even if we worst-case-scenario lose out and finish at 9-9, we’re still likely in this year. All the talk is the Pac-10 will be rewarded with a 9-9 team getting in.

It’s difficult to predict what we are going to do this week, either way. We know this much – home court in the Pac-10 this year? Meaningless. The conference is treading water at barely above .500, so it’s not like you look at Cal and at Stanford and say “uh-oh”. And let’s not forget, sure, Cal and Stanford won in Pullman, but they were both games that came down to the last possession. Both games were certainly winnable, and both games had us with 2nd-half leads. It’s not as though they came in and ran us off the court. So even though we aren’t playing our best right now, I’m thinking we will split this weekend. Brinkhater will outline the reasons why later, but that’s where I sit.

Finally, Rooster and I will be at the football dinner on Friday. I’m thinking it’ll be pretty similar to the event that Hooty covered earlier in the month, so we’ll spare you the details that he already provided. But hopefully we’ll get something else out of it that is worthy of reporting. There’s always some surprises here and there that come out of events like this. And there’s supposed to be another stadium renovation update, so we’ll report what we can.

Happy Tuesday!

A Little Perspective

February 25, 2008

Well, in case you were out of the country, missed the game, or got trashed and forgot everything about last night, here is the game summary in a nutshell (yes, I am a mixed metaphor machine):

Yep, we laid one big, fat, stinking egg.

In short, the coaches got outcoached, the players got outplayed, and bloggers throughout Arizona out-blogged and out-predicted the not-so-venerable Brinkhater.

But, after getting over my own hangover and paultry 36-2 record, I came to this startling realization:

DO NOT LOSE PERSPECTIVE ON WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!!!!!

A year ago, I provided you all with a post that read “As Good As It Gets.” In that post, I reminded all Cougar fans that last year’s Cinderella ride could be the best that we would ever do.

And I may have been right.

But, what this year has proved, or should have proved, to all of us is that the boys that are currently dawning Crimson and Grey each week are simply spectacular student athletes. In short, it is difficult to think of a better, big-time program that does more things the right way, for the right reasons, and with the right results.

In other words, for better or for worse, as we head down the last three games of the regular season, it really is high time for us to laud these guys and what they’ve done for our beloved university and the sense of pride that we all have for it.

I for one am going to enjoy the rest of this ride.

My keys for Thursday’s win at Berkeley will be up later in the week.

And while I know anonymous the Troll is coming shortly, you can bank on that win on Thursday.

As for Saturday…

Outcoached

February 24, 2008

Well, for the first time since the end of the Vanderbilt game last year, we were outcoached…From the use of the weave as a wrinkle to the high ball screen, to the quasi-match-up zone stuff they threw us at times at the defensive end, they were one step ahead of us all night. And as much as those two Arizona kids were BRILLIANT, I thought Tony coached WAY too cute all night.

And once again, we looked LOST offensively. And unfortunately, our X factors were largely absent when we so desperately needed them.

The bottom line that we can glean from this loss is that we do NOT do well against teams with the tall and active wing player like Mr. Chase Budinger, and unfortunately, Mr. Ryan Anderson.

This was a really bad loss for us folks..

10-8 and an 8 seed now looks like a real distinct possibility when a 7-1 second half seemed so within reach just a few hours ago..

YUCK!!!

Bennett to IU? Don’t Even Ask

February 23, 2008

At least that’s what he said on Friday. Per Bud Withers:

Bennett said, “I’m not going to comment on anything that doesn’t pertain to our season. That’s all you’re going to get out of me.”

ESPN was running a lead story on their site with the lead-in of “WSU’s Bennett to succeed Sampson?” And so it begins.

Let’s make it clear, right now – Even if Tony was foaming at the mouth as soon as the Sampson news dropped at the very idea of taking that job, he isn’t going to say it right now. He’s no dummy. They are in the stretch drive right now of a great 2-year run, and have a serious opportunity to build off last season and take that next step. He’s not about to undermine his program for his own selfish reasons. He’s going to continue to not comment until the final seconds have ticked off the clock for this year, and then, well, then we’ll see.

The ironic thing is that Withers also pens an article today about President Floyd and his role in the future of the athletic department (pretty good timing?). You read it and you realize that he’s going to be pivotal to our direction. Heck, we know for a flippin’ FACT that Floyd was a huge part of the Doba dismissal, period. This guy isn’t going to hide in his office and hope that things just magically work out!

So, what do you think young Tony will do? Does he bolt for a job that is one the top-6 winningest programs of all time? Back to his midwest roots, with facilities and travel and a commitment to the hoops program that makes you weak in the knees? Do the Bennett’s really love Pullman?

A couple of wildcards here are first, the interim head coach at IU. Dan Dakich appears to be in a good spot to take the reins, and in case you haven’t noticed, Indiana is having a really good season. Maybe they make a seriously deep run, maybe even Final Four, and then the overwhelming sentiment could be to keep the intern, ala Steve Fisher at Michigan. Dakich is relatively young at 45, and from the Knight coaching tree. He’s one of “theirs”. Dakich also had nothing to do with the Sampson phone calls, so he’s pretty clean. I don’t think at this point we can just assume that IU is 100% sure they are going to need to find a new guy once this thing plays out.

The other thing here is that yes, Tony is about the hottest young prospect around. But he’s still finishing only his SECOND season as a head coach, at any level. Think about that. None of these players that are getting the job done are even guys that have been brought in with him as head coach. I know, I know, he’s a dynamite recruiter and had a huge role in bringing these current players in. But from the outside, IU might think “hmmm, only 2 years as head coach?” Coach of the year or not, that could be a legit concern. And the other side of that is hey, this is IU for gawdsakes! A top-6 program all-time. They don’t usually take chances on rising stars. They are in a position where many coaches that are more seasoned than Tony would dream to get to IU. Kelvin left Oklahoma for IU, although it’s pretty obvious Kelvin might have been running away from something in the process. But still, it’s IU!

Coaches that have actually made deep tournament runs over several years, coaches who have maintained success over a long period of time, coaches that have built a major program over the years? Those are the coaches that should be #1 on their list. I’m not about to take a shot at Tony, but it’s reality. He’s a guy that quite simply hasn’t done a whole lot yet as a head coach. Of course we think the world of him and we know he’s outstanding, and given a few more years who the hell knows what he can do. We’ve already got a 4-star guy in Harthum, and a 3-star guy in Klay Thompson who has serious upside. And the whopper, per Howie, the #1 junior in AMERICA has WSU on his list right now!

So there is no denying it, Tony has a really special thing going right now. He’s got a lot of money for Pullman, they like the area, he’s worshipped by students and fans, and he’s building a program that fills the arena with energy and passion. But maybe he’s not the perfect fit – YET – at a place like IU. No matter what though, we should just get used to the rumor-mill and Tony Bennett. Period. WSU never has kept the young sexy coaches. There is a real commitment to the program now, and WSU hoops is a hot product, so things aren’t what they used to be. But as long as we are haunted by Dennis Erickson-like boltings, we just have to accept that with Tony, this sort of stuff will come with the territory.

TAKE IT!

February 22, 2008


Ah, Mr. X factor, you were SSSSSSSOOOOO big tonight…Hope you saved a few of those bullets for Saturday, cause we sure are going to need you again then!

Yep, Harmeling’s dagger to put the game away was the difference tonight. That and Baynes’ HUGE steal and stuff when you could feel that things were starting to slip a bit.

Overall, we played pretty darn well tonight. Our problem was that we just didn’t shoot the ball very well, and part of our spacing on the zone was a bit off which made it hard to get the ball to the weakside baseline quickly enough.

But I loved our patience and the energy of Cowgill and Rochestie: the former who played pretty darn well and the latter who just couldn’t find the jumper. But the effort and scheme was there.

Time to savor this victory in a major way.

We now head into the three game stretch that WILL define our season’s fortunes.

In the meantime, as we sit at 21-5 and 9 wins in conference, know that we are now a virtual LOCK for the tourney.

And with Kelvin getting the axe officially tomorrow, time may be short on this little dream.

Take it.

Take Two

February 20, 2008

So, last time I ventured down this path, I not only ruined my perfect year of Cougar Prognostications (I currently stand at about 35-1), I also started us on a treacherous losing streak. Dare I head down that same road again?

Yep. Bring em out, Cougar Nation.

We WILL sweep the Arizona schools this week.

Anyhow, not a lot of rocket science needed to break down this week’s upcoming slate.

In game #1, we have the much improved Arizona State Sun Devils led by super frosh Mr. Harden as well as Herb Sendek’s stubborn match-up zone.

This game would prove super scary for a number of teams, but not us, not now. Barring major health issues, Kyle Weaver will match up well with Mr. H and our offense will be able to handle ASU’s nagging defense. Look for Kyle Weaver to try to flash to (and/or catch the ball in) the center of the zone, kick to Low and Rochestie on the wings, penetrate himself, or kick off down low to Baynes for a nice soft dunk or four.

I actually like us to win this game in relative comfort (Notice how we are again starting with the 9-13 point “blow out” games?) to enter the AZ game with a split already in hand.

Cougs 68 ASU 56

With regards to Arizona, well, we’re gonna win, but I’ll wait to give the score until after Thursday’s action. Obviously, Mr. Bayless is a real handful especially when teamed with the not-so Mildcats’ other “Killer B”, Mr. Chase Budinger.

For these eyes, the AZ game is going to come down to two major keys: Weaver’s Health and AZ’s ability to shoot over the top. As the Quack game showed hopefully once and for all, the days of the trapping up top are done. We now have returned to the type of “stay at home” defense that will concede contested 3 point bombs, but will not get caught in the dish and drain stuff that KILLED us previously against AZ (and almost killed us against the Quack in Game 1).

With the game at home in front of a raucous crowd, with the improved offensive play of Taylor Rochestie, and with a solid game from Mr. Harmeling (who I think will play well this week), we should exit this weekend at 10-5 in conference.

And that, Cougar Nation, will seal the deal on a NCAA tourney trip for the second year in a row.

Enjoy it, the season is quickly coming to a close..

Baby Trufant the Best One Yet?

February 19, 2008


As we bask in the glow of the Oregon win (more on that in a moment), some actual football recruiting buzz is starting to percolate. What do you know? Desmond Trufant has been making a name for himself down in Tacoma, and is drawing raves from all over. And I guess Wulff meant it when he said that right after signing day they are already working on next year’s class. Wulff has already stepped up and offered Trufant a full ride (what a difference with this coaching staff?).

Yes, that is Trufant, as in the Tacoma Trufant’s. Do the Cougs’ have a leg up in this fight? Well, as of today, young Desmond is wide-open in the recruiting battle. We’ve offered, but so has Ty Willingham. And Oregon is interested as well.

Maybe Wulff has an edge here, not only with the WSU lineage with Marcus, but we all likely know that the middle Trufant, Isaiah, played for Wulff at Eastern. So we’ll see how it all plays out.

Trufant is an interesting prospect. Good size for a high school junior at 6-0, 170, and reportedly runs a 4.5. But his coach at Wilson already says that he’s better at this stage than his older brothers in terms of making big plays and showing pure athletic ability. He’s also a heck of a guard on the hoops team. He made second team All-Narrows league this season and will be a likely first-team candidate next year. He also ran track in ’07, running in the 4×100 relay. And as a frosh, he even triple-jumped over 40 feet, good for 5th best that year against a bunch of upper-classmen.

You know what’s great though? Wulff is out there fighting for this kid, regardless of his name and the possible “ins” we have here. Can you imagine the former staff actually offering a kid this early?? Never would have happened. I think back to losing Cameron Elisara to UW and how that former staff handled a player that many thought would be a sure thing to WSU. After all his dad played on the ’81 team, he was playing in Spokane, he had interest in WSU. But while we collectively fell asleep at the wheel, he chose UW because they were after him, showed him the “love”, that sort of thing. I can’t WAIT to see what sort of classes Wulff can put together over the next couple of years once he has a chance to establish his product!

So the latest polls have our hoop team at #17 in the AP, #19 in the coaches/USA Today. Seems about right. You can’t help but feel good about how they’ve righted the ship. I’ll let Brinkhater go off about the x’s and o’s, but from where I sit they seem to have that swagger back that they were lacking there for a tough stretch. That same swagger they had earlier in the season while winning close road games at Gonzaga, Baylor and UW, it all seems to be coming back. The health of Weaver is a concern, no doubt, and that seems like it might be something to really keep an eye on down the stretch. But it’s also a situation that appears to have let Rochestie take more of the offensive load? He has stepped up his offensive numbers lately, and was huge at the stripe down the stretch on Saturday. Finally, LOVED TO SEE LOW get off! I told Brinkhater last week that I am still waiting anxiously for him to just get it rolling, and the start of that Oregon game was huge for him. He is so streaky, but he has moments where he’s really, really special and looks like he could take over a game at any time. He shows those flashes of big-time scorer and you wonder where it is all the time, but that’s just the nature of being a fan I guess.

The Arizona schools are up next, starting with the Sun Devils on Thursday. Oh those naughty Sun Devils!
Then of course it’s Arizona on Saturday.

A sweep of the desert schools would sure be nice. But for some reason I suddenly don’t hate them all that much, do you?

On the Sonics war front – Can David Stern please SHUT THE F*CK UP? More rhetoric, more saber-rattling, more sky is falling. Yet you still hear and see no sign of panic among the Seattle “leaders”. Why? Because for one simple reason – they KNOW they won’t lose in court! The NBA and the Sonics ownership is screwed and they know it. The NBA doesn’t want to be drug through the mud which, coincidentally, this case would start during the NBA Finals, when the whole nation is watching the league. Their only hope is to try and buy out the city so they can get the hell out of here, but the city knows how strong a case they have. They know it, you know it, I know it, Bob Dole knows it. The thing to be a little uneasy about however is the story today that says “we won’t settle…..for now.” Let’s hope they do the thing that is in the best interest of the fans, and that’s stick to the outcome of the court case, period. And if the city somehow loses? Just appeal, appeal, appeal, and delay their departure. Make it painful on Clay-Clay.

The other side to this is that there are strong rumors that a local group is forming, all behind the scenes, to make a tremendous offer to buy the team. But that offer won’t come until after the case is heard. The other part of that equation is that a huge Key Arena remodel package is also in the works, one that would come right along with the new ownership group. But again, all that is behind the scenes and kept private until the outcome of the court case. It’s a frustrating way to play it, all the silence, but it’s the way it should be done for now.

Here’s the thing. The city has Slade Gordon on the roster to fight for this thing. I can’t think of anyone better to be on our side than Stud Gordon. Do you know why we even have the Mariners right now? Slade Gordon sued Major League Baseball after the Pilots bolted for Milwaukee, and WON Seattle a franchise! Do you know why the Seahawks are here? Slade Gordon was part of the group that stood up to Ken Behring and helped play a role in getting Paul Allen to the table with Behring. Today the Seahawks are a model NFL franchise. Slade Gordon doesn’t lose to professional sports leagues, PERIOD. So let David Stern say there’s no hope, no miracle. Let them flap their wings about settlements and such. But at the end of the day, they are staring at a losing cause in court, and they know it.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Better Win!!!!!

February 17, 2008


Ah, my little feathered friends…

So, now that we’ve kicked your butt on your homecourt as predicted, are you going to comment on how much BETTER we are than you in our comments section now that you lost???

Anyhow, sorry for all the speculation we provided below, Duck fans…BUT once again, we were right on this blog and you were wrong…too bad that’s a FACT.

So, go back to watching the Sun Bowl for the 1,000 time while hugging your Joey Harrington Tiger Beat Pin-up, as you try to deny and forget one of the biggest choke and collapse jobs in the history of Pac-10 football.

In the meantime, we’ll all look forward to watching you all turn a 6-1 start next year into a wonderful 8-6 suck fest.

Talk with you all soon, cuties!!!