Archive for the ‘WSU basketball’ Category

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!!!!

Big Game

January 31, 2009

Happy superbowl weekend to you, Cougar Nation! Hope you had a great week.

Well today, we play the no-longer-Mildcats.

After playing like also-rans for much of the first half of the Pac-10 slate, Arizona now has the look of the team that I predicted to win the conference (COUGH! COUGH!)

When you turn on the game today, you are going to hear the announcers talk about a couple of key head-to-head match-ups. They are:

1. Baynes v. Hill

2. Rochestie v Wise

3. Budinger v. Thompson

While those match-ups are certainly important, they really do not reflect what this game is really about:

BALL PRESSURE. (insert your 3rd grade joke here)

As we have seen all year, we don’t respond well to ball pressure. And, Arizona presses all the fricking time. So, how we handle that pressure is the real key to the game.

So, with that all in mind, here are a few things to watch for:

1) AZ’s field goal percentage. To press, you have to make shots. If you don’t make shots, you can’t press. Watch how well AZ shoots early, it will be a key to the tempo of the game. The cut-off is about 41%. They shoot better than that, they win. They shoot less than that and its a ball game.

2) AZ’s journey to the charity stripe. The more they go to the line, the more they press. They don’t go to the line, no press. To keep that number down, we need to limit transition opportunities and protect Wise from getting into the paint.

3) How we react after beating the first wave of pressure. And obvious tendency of breaking the first wave of the press is to attack the basket. We need to do that today, but we also need to be selective in how and WHEN we attack. Teams that press usually do so to hurry up the game. So patience will be a huge virtue for us. So, when we attack the rim it needs to be later in the shot clock.

4) Youth, youth, youth. With few exceptions, ALL of our big W’s have come with major contributions from our freshmen. To win today, Capers and Casto need to get many more minutes than Daven, Nick, and the rest.

5) Caleb. We need him to step up big today with that midrange game. He plays well (scores in 12-15 point range) and we win today.

Prediction: As I said last week, I like the way we match up with Devils. I HATE our match-up with AZ.

Arizona 65 WSU 53
But if I’m wrong, we are EXACTLY where we were at the end of the first half last year. This would be a MASSIVE win and sweep.


Youth Movement Kicks Off for M’s

April 30, 2008

The Brad Wilkerson Era in Seattle has come to a sad conclusion. “Wilky” as he was dubbed by adoring teammates has been handed his walking papers. I’m really going to miss that sub-.200 average with no pop or range in right field.

In all seriousness, too bad it didn’t work out. It was a nice idea if he could have hit and played defense, but from opening day he looked like a broken-down horse on his last legs. Sort of like an NFL running back who loses a few steps, when the skills start to go on a power-hitter, they go quick.

But don’t fret M’s fans. The baby M’s are on the way! The M’s have recalled not only Wladimir Baltentien from Tacoma, but they have ALSO called up the top catching prospect in baseball right now in Jeff Clement. KJR speculates that at least Balentien will be in the lineup tonight and is basically your new right fielder. Also, Clement is now in the mix for backing up Johjima at catcher, while getting the majority of his hacks from the DH spot. Jose “Turbo” Vidro likely becomes an $8.5 million dollar pinch-hitter for the rest of the way. Given that Turbo has a vesting option on his deal for next season if he gets a certain number of plate appearances, this should be the beginning of the end for the ground ball specialist (which isn’t a good thing to be when you are a hitter!).

Clement is a hell of a hitter and is simply on fire right now. He was hitting .397 and an onbase-plus-slugging percentage of 1.200+. That’s pretty remarkable. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is almost 2-to-1. He’s part of that great 2005 draft class with Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, Jeff Zimmerman, Troy Tulowitzki, and Clay Bucholtz among others. He’s done everything he can in the minors and is a perfect fit with his left-handed stick in Safeco. M’s scout Roger Hansen said the other day that he could very well be better than Jason Varitek. The kid is ready.

Balentien has shown tremendous progress in the last year and change. He has always had fantastic power, but the strike-zone judgment was an ongoing issue. Something changed last year though, and ever since the 2007 season he’s been a different, more mature hitter. The P-I had a nice piece on him today, so give it a look.

The M’s also DFA’d Greg Norton, which is a little unusual. I guess he was the cheapest, non-guaranteed guy to dump, which is probably why the corpse of Miguel Cairo and his guaranteed MLB deal is still on this team. At least Norton had some punch from the left side and hit 17 HR’s last year. Too bad. But Greg Norton off the bench isn’t going to save this team. They desperately need hitting, and they are going to give it a go with their two top hitters that both look ready to go. The M’s starting pitching has been simply fantastic this year, in the top 3 in the bigs in terms or starters’ ERA. You can’t continue to waste such good efforts on the mound with a few runs here or there. It should be an interesting month of May!

Moving on, another day, another good read on Gary Rogers, this time in the Everett Herald. The pride of Kamiak is finally getting his chance. The more I read and hear about Rogers, the more I think we are all going to be walking around next fall muttering “IF ONLY he had more eligibility…..”

Finally, Cougfan has a decent take on the WSU hoops revenue. The revenue almost doubled for the ’07-’08 season, up to $950K. Nice. But per the article, we have quite a ways to go. Hard to believe that it costs $9,000 at Arizona as the entry-level donation for just the right to buy season tickets, yet at WSU it’s a measly $75. WOW. Arizona hoops is a big deal in Tucson, but supply and demand makes you think a bump in our hoops ticket prices is on the way. Given the quality of the product of late, it would be hard to argue against it.

Happy Humpday!

Cougs Land Casto

April 17, 2008

I guess the sweet call of Big-Time Georgetown just wasn’t sweet enough. There was some speculation that this could happen yesterday, but today is a new day. Vince at has broken the story this afternoon that Washington 4-A State Player of the Year DeAngelo Casto is headed for Pullman!

Now, he still has to become eligible. Casto says things are cool and he’s on target to be able to join the team next year, but stay tuned there.

If you haven’t seen him, Casto is a wonderfully talented 6-8 power forward who has really evolved. His offensive game needs some improvement, but he’s got all the tools you look for at a young age. Regarded as a tremendous leaper, he’s also known for a soft touch around the perimeter. He’s got a very strong frame, and you can see that once he gets into an NCAA lifting program, he could really pack on the muscle. He’s a nice addition to next year’s team and who knows, perhaps he’ll break through and see some court time as a true frosh?

The exciting thing about Casto is how well he performed when the lights were the brightest over the last couple of seasons. He averaged a double-double the last two years combined, but just in hte state tourney alone this year, he averaged nearly 19 points per game on a deep, talented championship team. Casto also set a tournament record with 25 blocked shots in four games, including a dominating EIGHT in the title game!

I think this basically solidifies this year’s recruiting class as the greatest in school history, at least in regards to pre-season hype. Marcus Capers, James Watson, Klay Thompson, Michael Harthun, Nick Witherill, and now DeAngelo Casto makes this a class that we could be talking about for a long, long time. Nice “get” Tony, and welcome to the family DeAngelo!

March Madness – WSU Football Blog Style

March 17, 2008

Obviously the focus this week is on these guys, and for good reason. A 4-seed in Denver is nothing to sneeze at, as we wind up our best 2-year run ever in terms of NCAA appearances. I won’t get too deep into it here, but as we commented yesterday, the message this week is simple – ENJOY this while it lasts. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no man, and that applies to this hoops program. We don’t know what the future holds, so try to enjoy the gift that is the “precious present”. That’s easier said than done, and around 4:20 on Thursday many of you will be gnawing the fingernails and gnashing the teeth, but do everything you can to keep things in perspective!

But today isn’t just about hoops. Since it’s March, we’re also talking about FOOTBALL! Unbelievable. Yep, spring ball is set to roll. Here’s a link to the official Spring Primer from the school. It’s a pretty good read. But we’ve got a LOT of questions that need to be answered. We’ll go through a few areas the rest of the week, so check back as things roll on. Without further adieu, here are the top-3 questions for the offensive skill positions this spring:

1) Who’s the QB?

The leader in the clubhouse at this point is Gary Rogers. Great size at 6-7, with an arm so strong Jack Thompson raves that he could throw it through a car wash and have it come out dry on the other side. Thompson also says he’s Carson Palmer, but with better feet. Uh, OK. That’s kind of a stretch, but hey, it’s March. Optimism runs wild this time of year. It’s not so much Rogers and his whopping physical size and tools, but my question is how will he fit into this offense? While much is made of the idea that this offense is the spread/read option offense, you don’t need Dennis Dixon or Pat White as a runner back there. This is really a modified version of that offense, NOT a true read-option where the QB fakes a handoff 80% of the time with the idea that he can tuck it and run. The challengers are Cole Morgan, Kevin Lopina and the young dark horse, Marshall L (I’ll refrain from constantly misspelling the last name, so he’ll simply be Marshall or Marshall L going forward).

2) Who Will Be the Running Back(s)?

This is a big question that needs to be addressed. New OC Todd Sturdy said it a few times at the football dinner a few weeks ago, but despite being a no-huddle shotgun offense, we WILL run the football. In fact, the goal is a 50-50 run-pass ratio, so healthy bodies are going to be a premium for the offense. With Dwight Tardy out with the knee injury suffered while celebrating vs. UCLA (I don’t care what anyone says, he hurt that knee after scoring the TD vs. the Bruins), Chris Ivory will be the undisputed starter from the opening practice.

Tardy however got the starter nod with the first depth chart released in the Paul Wulff era, so things might be different in the fall. I will say this however – Chris Ivory, at least to me, looks to have more upside that Dwight Tardy. Not to say that I don’t like them both, and I think combined, if they are both healthy this fall, that’s a heck of a one-two punch. But Ivory appears to me to have more explosion than Tardy, both in the short runs with more punch and he even has an extra gear that could make him pretty special. A couple of other kids in the mix are Marcus Richmond, who’s had very little opportunity at this point to do much, and Logwone Mitz, a powerful 6-0, 230-pounder who came in with some recruiting buzz last year but didn’t play. Hard to say now, but by the opener this position could be one of real strength on the offense, and we may end up being a true 50-50 run-pass offense after all.

3) How About the WR’s?

We all know Brandon Gibson will bless this team with his return next year. After losing Bumpus, Charles Dillon and Jed Collins, all I can say is THANK YOU Brandon. And from the early talk, it sure as heck sounds like Wulff and company are going to do all they can to reward him for his return. Wulff even mentioned, albeit briefly, that you are going to see them get the ball to Gibson in all sorts of creative ways. The leading receiver in the conference from 2007 and a guy who’s big plays won us the Apple Cup, Gibson is poised to have a gigantic Senior year. Just hope that he clicks early in the offense and most of all, STAYS HEALTHY this spring! We all know what he can do, so let’s just handle him with kid gloves, hmmm?

Jeshua Anderson showed a tremendous upside as a frosh last year, and he’s truly got “world class” speed as he will completely miss spring ball, instead working on his track team skills. Anderson is rumored to be a true candidate for the Olympic team, so it’s hard to bet fully on his return to football at this point. We’ll see how it all shakes out. Benny Ward is back, and while he’s experienced, he hasn’t exactly been a world-beater. But he’ll team with Gibson as a senior starter at one WR spot. At flanker, promising sophomore Daniel Blackledge is back as a raw, yet talented youngster. Outside of those three players, the depth is thin. At least it’s thin based on past production, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. They had some good players ahead of them the last few seasons, so the opportunities haven’t been there. The good news is Mike Levenseller has stuck with the new staff, and can concentrate solely on coaching up the WR’s. No need to worry about calling plays or bickering with the OC Mike, just coach up these youngsters and let’s see how much we can improve this spring!

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.