Archive for February, 2009

Pick Em

February 28, 2009

Happy Saturday, Cougar Nation.

Hope the week has been good to you.

Well, today’s line against the Sun Devils is even.

And that can mean only one thing: Pick em.

For BH, that’s an easy thing to do.

After blazing the trails of prognostication last year, I have achieved below mortal status during this basketball season. I mean, since the Oregon State game, I have correctly predicted our fortunes ZERO TIMES.

So, perhaps it won’t surprise you that I think we’re going to lose today.

I don’t have any good reasons for this prediction except that I really wonder whether or not our status as offensive juggernaut can last.

After all, we’ve scored over 40 points in 3 out of our last 4 halves of basketball. Moreover, one could argue that the only reason we won the last time against them is because Klay was 8 of 10 from THREE POINT LAND.

If we do it again today, then we’ve really really arrived. But ASU is going to come out with all that they have given their potential to slip to third or fourth by the end of today. On top of that, I expect Tony to start all five seniors today which might lead to a 10-2 hole that we can’t get out of.

ASU 65 WSU 55

I won’t be able to watch today’s game, so please provide your thoughts and summaries post game.


February 27, 2009

Happy Friday, Cougar Nation.

How about them Cougars?

Well, given that our boys are about half-way to accomplishing the impossible, I thought I’d fire off a quick DREAM scenario for how we can get back to the NCAAs:

A) Win out in the regular season (Duh!)
B) Both Oregon State (to Quack) and USC (to Stanford) lose tomorrow
C) Oregon State Loses to UCLA and Beats USC next week on the road.
D) Arizona loses to UW and at home to CAL next week

WERE ALL of these scenarios to happen, we would finish 5th in the conference.

We would then have a first round game against UCLA, CAL, or ASU.

Win that first game and we’re in as the conference’s fifth team.

So, there you have it. Win three more in a row and if the sky falls upward, we’re dancing once again.

Lets fricking win tomorrow!!!!

So Sweet

February 27, 2009

To have the big black bird in your mouth.

Only caught one minute of the game–the last minute..

So share your thoughts about what happened tonight.

You can sure tell that we’re starting to feel it.

Congrats Cougs!

Go To Vegas

February 26, 2009

Happy Thursday to you, Cougar Nation.

Hope you’re having a good week.

This morning I opened up the old fishwrap to find that our Cougies are listed as a two-point favorite for tonight’s tilt against the Mildcats.

So with that line in mind, its time to go to Vegas.

You know, I don’t have the time or inclination to check out the official stat, but since 1982 we’ve beaten Arizona about 4 times.

And unfortunately for us, Number 5 will NOT come tonight.

Arizona comes in among the hottest teams in the country. Moreover, like CAL early in the year, the Mildcats are shooting about 51% from the field in their last 8 games or so.

When you add their ability and tendency to supply endless ball pressure to their three point shooting, you get a recipe for what should be a very, very bad start to Seniors’ week.

That all said, here are my keys to the game.

1) Keep Daven on the Bench.

Great stories this week about the character of Daven Harmeling. What a great kid! But, for us to win tonight, he can’t play. Instead, we need a healthy, healthy dose of Marcus Capers.

Capers is going to need to get out of the trap on the sideline better than he did against AZ in Tuscon. He also needs to guard Chase Budinger so Klay has some legs on the offensive end. Marcus also needs to take the ball to the rack when he breaks the first line of pressure.

All in all, its a lot to ask of the kid, but to win, he has to come through.

2) Lots and Lots and Lots of Casto.
As long as AZ presses, we need Casto in the game. The good thing about a press is that, if you break it, you have 2 on 1s and 3 on 2s all day long. But, because AZ has Jordan Hill patrolling the basket during the press, you need guys that can dunk on him. Casto may miss his free throws tonight, but getting Hill in foul trouble is a big part of both breaking the press AND getting Baynes off when they go to zone.

3) Play the same tempo offensively as we did against UCLA.

We played AWFULLY fast last Saturday. In fact, because of the fast tempo, I thought for sure we were going to get blown in the second half against the Bruins. But, because we have so many rhythm shooters, the fast pace actually helps Klay and Taylor find their strokes–especially against teams that force the action. So, we need to play just as fast today as we did last Saturday.

We need to attack that press and get layups, dunks, and fouls. If we do that, we will establish an offensive identity that will propel us throughout the game. If we play conservative, we’ll be rushing shots late in the shot clock and that will spell a blow-out–probably in the second half.

4) Taylor and Klay from 3.
IF and when we break the press, AZ will shift to a tight 2-3 zone like they did against ASU. Taylor and Klay will then need to hit shots from deep to open the game up.

5) Don’t give up threes.

Let Budinger get his 23. Let wise get his 20. But make them get ALL of them from inside that darn arc. If they beat us with a mid-range game, so be it. But we can not weather a barrage of threes.

Do all those things and we win.

Again, it’s just too tall an order in my book. Remember, this group swept us last year too. Take all the money that you have in the world and put it on Arizona.

AZ 64 WSU 51

But if I am wrong, you all can start to really stoke the talk about our postseason chances.

Lets go Cougs. Lets go Seniors.

Tuedays with the REAL Moron (BH)

February 24, 2009

How you doin’ Cougar Nation?

Hope you’re having a great start to your week.

Well, after being accustomed to the great rantings of Uncle Sedihwak each Tuesday, homeboy had to go fire up a three day set of all day meetings in the A-T-L.

So, I’m pinch hitting for him this week.

That said, because I already AM a total moron, I’m going to replicate Sedi’s great work by simply doing what I do:

Be REAL dumb.

With that in mind, here we go:

IS Taylor Rochestie an NBA player?

A couple of months ago, I would have told you absolutely “NO!!!!!!!” But after watching him over the last couple of weeks, I am not so sure. Granted, there have been times that he has tried to do too much. But, if you put that aside (and the context which creates it), why not consider his upside?:

1) Fantastic conditioning and stamina
2) Very good on-the-ball defender
3) Solid ball handler
4) Changes speeds well
5) Shoots fairly well on the move
6) Has Decent Range
7) Has a high assist-to-turnover ratio
8) Comes from a winning program

For BH, that’s a lot of upside. Moreover, after seeing my non-main-man Jose Barea play a couple of times over the last two weeks

I can tell you that I like Taylor’s chances even more. After all, Barea now plays about 21 minutes for the Dallas Mavericks even though he stands at only 6 feet, has no hops, and really doesn’t defend that well. But, he shoots well and distributes.

If Taylor wants it, I think there’s a two or three year roster spot for him somewhere in the league….
So, Andy Pandy Katz says that there is NO WAY that WSU can make the NCAAs as at large team.

I only half agree with him. There’s NO WAY that we can make the NCAAs. But if we did, it would be AS AN AT LARGE TEAM.

Although the pundits don’t agree with me, none of them are lifetime wanna-be-bracketologists.

And that’s why they’re actually paid sportswriters.

In my opinion, the magic number for this group is FIVE. That’s right FIVE.

Win five games before our exit in the Pac-10 tournament and we dance for three years in a row. Consider the four ways we could do that:

1) Win one regular season game and then win the Pac-10 tournament. Result: we’re in. (but we can never win 4 games in 4 days with Taylor playing 38+ minutes a game. That will NEVER happen).

2) Win two regular season games and then reach the Pac-10 tournament final. That winds up being 11-11 in conference and 19-15 overall. That’s a bit of a stretch because of the Taylor fatigue factor, but it also probably gives us 4 wins over ranked teams in the seasons final 2+ weeks. Result: with a soft bubble, we sneak in.

3) Win three regular season games and then win two games in the Pac-10 tournament. Result: we finish 11-10 in conference and 19-14 overall. Lots of losses there to be sure. But, depending on how the conference splits over the next two weeks, we would have road wins @ASU, @UCLA, and @UW. Plus we’d have home wins over AZ & ASU, plus a neutral court win over ASU, UW, UCLA, or CAL depending on the split.

That’s “in” folks, no matter how anyone else wants to cut it. Twelve seed here we come!
Since winning the 2008 Washington Sportswriter of the Year Award, our main man Vince Grippi has been tearing up the blogosphere. Yesterday, he did his best Uncle Remus post:

In that post, Grippi describes the happenings of the song birds in his yard.

And in other days, well, he does what Vince does:

He reports.

Its not that I dislike Vince’s reporting ’cause god knows I WANT TO BE GRIPPI and I troll the internet hourly waiting for what he has to say.

But I think that I echo the sentiment of many in Cougar Nation in asking Vince to give a bit more of himself. Like, give his opinion early, often, and FOREVER.

Take yesterday’s post an example. In that post, Vince talks about the rat-race that the Pac-10 has become.

Vince, what I WANT in a post like that is for you to tell us what the hell is going to happen in that race, not provide some vague metaphor for how the race relates to the Robins and the snow!

So tell us what’s going on inside of YOUR BRAIN instead of just telling us what’s going on in general.

It’s YOU we’re interested in Vince.

It’s you!

If I Had A Wish–YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

February 21, 2009

Update 2:01pm:

Congratulations Seniors!! Taylor is the hero of heros and the kids played great.

THIS win epitomizes why its great to be a Cougar!

It would be to beat UCLA today.

Greetings Cougar Nation, I hope that your weekend is off to a good start!

Don’t know about you all, but BH thinks that we could win all the rest of our games, lose all the rest of our games, or finish somewhere inbetween….

But here’s the question for you all: If we can win only one game the rest of the way, who would you want us to beat?

Would you want us to complete the sweep of ASU? Would you want us to derail Arizona? Do you want us to spoil the conference championship hopes of the Defeateds? Or, do you want us to win today?

As for me, I prefer to take the long view.

Last time I checked, our seniors have done just about everything except beat UCLA. For that reason, nipping the Bruins in Pauley holds a special place next to my very black heart.

But the other reason for wanting to beat UCLA on the road is the importance such a victory has for the freshmen. Think forward to two years from now when a 12-3 WSU team needs a victory @UCLA to retain sole possension of first place in the Pac-10. Do you think that a “been there, done that” approach will be important for that team? I sure do.

So watch with baited breath as our boys try to do something that hasn’t been done for a while. Root for Taylor and root for Baynes to break through in this game. And root for our kids to shine the brightest on the biggest pre-tourney national stage.

My prediction: UCLA 61 WSU 54.

But it wouldn’t surprise me in the slighest if we shock the world.

Let’s go COUGS!!!!

The Taj Mahal

February 20, 2009

Good loss tonight, if we can actually refer to a loss as good.

The Cougs rallied back from a 15 point second half deficit in spite of the worst game ever played by Klay Thompson. Simply put our boy was AWFUL at both ends of the floor. And in case you missed it, T-Bone laid into him for it.

But part of the reason for his awfulness was this guy: The Taj Mahal Gipson.

What a playuh.

But tonight we saw Tony respond to the blitzkrieg Triangle and Two that they put on us by playing our freshies and non-seniors. And, the line-up of Casto, Forrest, Capers, Taylor, and Nick went on a really nice 15-2 run (or some such) to bring us within one with seven minutes left. We couldn’t get closer than that, but what the hell, Casto played great and the youth got time. It’s what we need.

The only negative takeaway from tonight’s game is seeing once again how damn good Taylor Rochestie is as a college basketball player. Granted, his decision making at the end of the first half looked like his decision making at the end of every close game. And, the only really bad shot he took in the second half was the hurried three when we were down one.

But the kid can play in spite of his tendency to try too hard. And boy are we going to be thinking about him when we’re 2-16 next year. Boy are we going to miss him (although like I’ve told you, Xavier Thames is going to be really something).

In the meantime, a quick shout-out to my Pac-10 coach of the year:

After going winless last year, Mr. Robinson now has the Beavs all alone in 7th place in the conference. Who-da thunk it?

Lets go beat UCLA on Saturday…

Go Crazy

February 19, 2009

It’s breaking everywhere, and thanks to “Soze” in comments for the heads-up. I think the M’s just upped their bottom line for this year, don’t you? They will come in droves to see the Kid in an M’s uni, one more time. As the story says, the M’s are expecting 200,000 MORE people to come out to the ballpark this year.

Welcome home Junior!

Longball’s View from the Cheap Seats

February 17, 2009

Hello Cougar Nation,

Are your ears still ringing from final nail being hammered in the Cougar’s post-season coffin? Well I am back with my take from way up in the cheap seats to help you put it all in perspective and in that great Cougar tradition… Look forward to NEXT year.

First of all, what happened to this season? From where I have been sitting its pretty simple, this team suffered from failed leadership… at all levels. When I said in my previous post that this team would not even sniff an NIT bid, I wasn’t kidding. The reason I gave was that this year’s veterans were just not good enough to win consistently in Pac-10 play. Over the last couple weeks it has become apparent that in addition to veteran players being unable to lead us to victory on the court, Coach Bennett and his staff are suffering their own growing pains that have hurt this team’s chances. If you watch carefully you can follow Tony’s learning curve as it arches steeply upward, but it is a process and he is learning as much as our young players are this season. While it is frustrating to watch our veteran players refuse to win close games, Saturday’s loss must be placed squarely on our coaching staff.

It is no secret that this year’s Cougs cannot handle any ball pressure and will always wilt under even the lightest press. This sure made coach Robinson’s job easy on Saturday. Down at the half, and getting beat in all aspects of the game he simply had to put on a half hearted 3 quarter court press and VOILA! For the millionth time this season the Cougars were out adjusted at the half and lost a game they were winning. This is a predictable outcome by now and the failure to address it is a coaching failure. If you listen to the Tony Bennett show on Tuesday nights, it is clear this is something they are working hard on in practice, but so far, whatever they have tried has not worked. During games it seems like there are only 2 (bad) options, either go with an athletic lineup that can handle the ball but is very young and inexperienced, or an experienced veteran lineup that is terrible at ball handling. So far the remedy has been elusive, but you can bet that Tony and his staff are learning a lot from these failures.

Why am I so confident they are learning from their mistakes when it appears they make the same mistakes week after week? Because while the outcome is the same every week, the mistakes are not. Confusing? Yes. But true. This staff is trying different things, and sometimes they are having success. Case in point, the Cal game: The theory the coaches were testing was that fatigue was playing a roll in our inability to hang in tough games down the stretch. We all saw a mysterious sub rotation in the first half that seemed to kill some really good momentum we had going. What happened from there can be interpreted a number of ways, but what I saw was a team hang around in the 2nd half, endure multiple runs by Cal and respond with runs of their own. Whether the extra rest was the reason, or not, they were able to compete to the end with a team who was just as capable as UW or Gonzaga of running the Cougs right out of the gym. Of course, they lost, but losing narrowly at Cal is different than fading down the stretch to OSU at home. Though the results were nearly identical, against OSU we played ourselves out of the game while at Cal we played ourselves into a position to win the game. Subtle difference for sure, but important to recognize if you want to understand what this team is going through.

So, while I see hope for Tony and his staff to learn from their mistakes and return each year as better coaches, the clock has sadly run out on our seniors. Baynes, Rochestie, Harm and Caleb don’t get another off season to digest what they’ve learned, work on their weaknesses and return for another chance. For these guys, all we can say is goodbye, good luck and Thank You for all the great things they did accomplish here.

As for our young guns, I am still SKY HIGH on our freshmen and will say without hesitation that Klay Thompson was by far the best player on the floor for either team Saturday. He is so good that I actually have hope for next year. However, there is another frosh who I am even more excited about, Marcus Capers. If you have seen Capers in person, you will have a better idea what I am talking about, but he is the best pure athlete to suit up for the Cougs since Neil Derrick. He has the same length and agility as Kyle Weaver, with even more explosiveness and silky smooth ball handling. On Saturday while our team futzed around looking lost and hopeless against the Beaver press Capers made a play that sent shivers down my spine. He received the ball deep in the corner, behind the 3 point line and the OSU defenders backed off, knowing he doesn’t have a great outside shot (yet). Capers hesitated for just a moment, then went to the rack, two dribbles, and he took off, soared over and past the defense and easily laid the ball in from above the rim. It was the kind of play Coug fans usually only see made against them.

Serious, serious, serious athletes are starting to arrive on the Palouse, folks. I have been watching the Cougs play hoops for a long time and I am seeing things from our young players that I have rarely seen round here before.

*Speaking of high flying freshmen, I saw DeAngelo Casto at the Pullman airport on Sunday morning. He definitely aced the airport eye test! Besides being tall, Casto’s shoulders were almost too broad to fit through the security gate. From 30 feet away I felt like I was about to get dunked on.

*In another sighting round town, I saw Lodwick and Enquist at Safeway immediately after the game, Saturday. I have been annoyed in the past to run into Cougar players about town after tough losses carrying on like nothing happened while I am still wallowing in misery. Not so with these two. Neither even played in the game, but both of them wore appropriately morose expressions and had a general heir of pissedoffedness about them that I found comforting.

*Finally, If you live in the area I suggest you check out the Tony Bennett show in person at the Hilltop on Tuesday nights. They have decent food specials and it is fun to see Coach Tony up close and in person. Look for me, I’ll probably be the only one there under the age of 70. Be sure to arrive early for a seat.

That’s all for now, as always… GO COUGS!

Tuesdays With Moron

February 17, 2009

Welcome to another week of mindless ramblings, otherwise known as Tuesdays With Moron. Last week went pretty well, so, we thought we’d try this again. So let’s see what’s up.

So how ’bout that UW? Now that EWU has officially been slapped with probation, did you know that UW coaches have started trolling for some of their talent? It’s true, per Benedict Bob at the Times via the Spokesman-Review. Based on official rules, since EWU is on probation, their seniors have the ability to transfer without penalty. Some of the players mentioned include standout WR Aaron Boyce, a player who exploded with 85 catches and over 1300 yards as a sophomore under none other than Paul Wulff. Boyce had a less productive junior year last year, but still is highly regarded as a WR with good size (6-2, 205) and excellent hands.

There hasn’t been anything about WSU pursuing players from EWU in this manner, and we can probably expect that nothing will happen there. The relationship might be strained enough as it is, but if WSU were to try and poach some of their players, that would basically kill the relationship altogether, as well as completely tarnishing Wulff’s legacy in the process. Not that it isn’t a bit tarnished as it is, but one would think the last thing Wulff would do right now is try and rip some EWU players out of Cheney.

So is that cool for UW to do this? I mean sure, the NCAA will allow it. And Sarkisian and company are ultra-aggressive in everything they do, so it’s not a surprise that they would try to do something like this.

But I think they might want to tread lightly before they raid EWU, don’t you? After all, UW is going to have to establish relationships in the state, not necessarily with other colleges but certainly with the high schools, high schools they aren’t exactly familiar with right now. How would it look if they went out and yanked some of EWU’s top players? How would EWU coaches handle that? EWU coaches who are ALREADY established with in-state high school coaches? Gee, I don’t know, but you think they just MIGHT bad-mouth the UW coaches for doing such a thing? Nah….OK, I know, MORE UW ranting? That’s it, I promise….

How about that crazy Octuplets Mom? You know, the one who wants to actually BE Angelina Jolie?

The single mom on assisted living, who oh by the way, already has six kids of her own? You can imagine the fun by adding EIGHT newborns to the mix. Who in the hell thought this was a good idea? Even Apu and Manjula thought it was a bad idea, and they “only” had eight of their own.

I love the line in that episode “eight misbehavin'”, where Apu wakes up from sleep after feeding the newborns to say “Oh, I had the most wonderful dream last night….where I died.” Eight babies, they’re Nahasapeemapetilon-TASTIC!

Looks like Junior Griffey will be making his decision today. After all the done deal reports last week, it seemed just like waiting for the Pebble Beach golf deal to wind up, then he would hit Peoria for a physical and become a Mariner. But not so fast. Turns out Atlanta was where he wanted to go all along, a place his Dad enjoyed back in the day, and even openly campaigning Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox last week as the place he wants to be.

Personally, can you blame him? An hour flight away from his home base, close to kids and family, spring training 20 minutes from his home in Orlando, etc. Sure he’ll have to play the field, which at this point in his career is a really bad idea for health issues, but the Braves sure look better than the M’s at this point. Not that the Braves are going to go out and win a ring, not with the Phillies and Mets in their same division, but he clearly has a better shot to win in ATL. The only thing the M’s have going for them is the nostalgia factor, but as one writer said over the weekend, the only thing familiar for Griffey and Seattle anymore is the Mariner Moose. Everyone and everything else has changed since he last roamed centerfield in the 90’s. I don’t blame the guy, at his stage of his career to want to play close to home. I just wish he wouldn’t have said what he did back in 2007, when the three-day love fest during his triumphant return climaxed with him saying he wanted to retire a Mariner. M’s fans (like me) haven’t been able to let that go. And closure from the whole messy divorce would have been a good thing. But what can you do? It’s called free agency for a reason, and he’s free to go play wherever he wants. And it looks like Atlanta is going to win his services.

So, the Evil Empire is looking for a bailout. Have you heard the spiraling, out of control costs of the next Death Star?? $15.6 Septillion!!?

The number is so big I don’t even know how to spell it. But it looks like this:

$15,602,022,489,829,821,422,840,226.94. WOW.

As Gizmodo points out, if you had that kind of money, instead of saving the world from the economic crisis, you could simply build the Death Star, blow up Earth and move on to invade the rest of the galaxy.

Anyway, the current Death Star situation has Darth Vader himself completely out of his mind. He’s been rambling incoherently about things that are way out of context, confusing everyone around him. Even the stress is wearing down the most evil sith lord of all-time. See for yourself (some NSFW-ish language):

That’s all I’ve got for today. Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS!