Wednesday, April 02, 2008

X'd Out

Greetings Cougar Nation.

Last time we spoke, we had just finished spanking the hapless lads from the land of Touchdown Jesus the day before Easter.

And now, well, we’re waiting in the throws of yet another batch of “Where’s Waldo?” Tony Bennett style.

But before we go there, I thought I’d finish off my wonderful season of stating the obvious:

First and foremost, HAD I internet reception at my $400 a night hotel in NYC, you would have seen the following predictions from me before our game with Big Blue:

71-52 Heels


65-62 Cougs.

It all came down to shooting.

What was amazing to these eyes was that we were able to hold Carolina “down” to under 70 points in that damn game despite shooting less than 33% from the field. I found that stat to be absolutely astonishing.

What those numbers should have shown all of us was something very simple, but nonetheless profound: IF we had hit our shots, we would have won that stinking game. Its that simple, we really would have won if we had shot 45% or better.

But, we didn’t, and the simple reason that we didn’t was because our X factors simply did not show up.

Rochestie was a non-factor. Cowgill couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn despite being SPECTACULAR the weekend before. And Harmeling was nothing short of awful.

If two of those three shot well, we would have shocked the world. (But kudos to Mr. Baynes who really played well and for Low and Weaver who played hard and aggressive).

But what can you do?

I think, as we look back on this incredible group of kids, we will REALLY lament that CAL loss and both losses to Stanford pre-tournament. In hindsight, those losses really cost us a #3 seed in the tourney—a seed that, in my view, would have given us a really, really good chance at making the Elite 8. As is, we were able to make the Sweet 16 which makes this group an historic success.

Now, in regard to Mr. Bennett, let me say this: I would bet my bottom dollar that he is using this week to get some major things done IN WRITING surrounding changes to program travel, staff salaries and what have you. The fact that he is not negotiating those details in the paper is yet another tribute to the true character of the man.
I also think that our win over Notre Dame is THE reason why he is staying at WSU. With that win, he has something tangible to build on: Two top bracket seedings in two consecutive tournaments, a Sweet 16 bid, and a thrashing of a top 15 team in the tournament against a physical team from a physical conference. THAT is something coaches can really sell and build on. Check that against a second year in a row, first weekend exit, and you have a guy that might not have the chips to continue to recruit the way he needs to to keep this Cougar engine running.

That said, when this upcoming weekend is past, Tony really needs to start making statements about his intentions to be here. Simply put, while all coaches leave, Tony’s ability to really build something in the Palouse will be contingent upon his ability to sell stability to recruits, to the media, and to the fan base. Obviously, passing on IU is a MAJOR statement (for those who haven't been there, Bloomington is beautiful), but once he passes on these other great opportunities, a nice formal statement or four would go a long way to chilling everyone out. Including yours truly.

As for next year, well, I think its going to be intriguing. Baynes has a chance to be really special especially in view of the pending departures of the Lopez Twins, Love, as well as dudes like Marty L. that could really pull him away from the basket. Rochestie has a chance to really become the prodigal snake in the grass in a really exciting way, and Nicky Boy, if healthy could become a really nice slasher type for a team that will need to continue to establish the baseline.

But, the rest is all really a crap shoot. Caleb is going to be a nice midrange guy that has a ton of moxy and heart as we saw this year. Harmeling could be a star or a scrub depending on his confidence and health. I would bet on the former if he starts, but if Bennett uses him off the bench again, I think we’re all likely to be disappointed.

Abercrombie looks like he can jump out of the gym, but it’s hard to know if he can play. We really know nothing about the Lobrick kid. Ditto Fabian Bok-bok. Then, we have the new kids coming in.

Thompson is really special from what I've seen (and I mean SPECIAL), and my sense is that the kid from Florida is also going to get a bunch of time as a 6 foot 4 cross between Derrick Low and Rochestie. I look for him to get a lot of time once conference play starts because of his size and reputation as a defender (note: He also shot 44% from 3pt range this year, which is GREAT at any level).

So, by the end of the year, we’re going to have a team with Baynes, Harmeling, Caleb, Thompson, Rochestie, Lobrick, and Bok-Bok, plus the Florida Kid (and throw Abercrombie in there as well). That’s a thin group, but potentially one that can really light it up. The question is who will be able to distribute with Weaver gone?

Think we’re gonna miss him? (P.S. See Washington post Brandon Roy).

BUT, its also a group that should hold promise in what should be a weakened league.

So, here’s Brinkhater’s pre-season special for 2009:

UCLA (yes, I know they’re losing a lot but see SC in football for a refresher)
Arizona State
Washington (gulp)
Washington State
Oregon State

We’re gonna have to go 10-8 to get back to the dance and find a way to go 9-3 or so out of conference.

But in some ways, this group feels a little like the team that came in a few decades ago with a young Ike Fountaine who lit up Puerto Rico with 33 points and brought the then NCAA bound Cougs home with a nice little Holiday Tournament.

This team could provide similar havoc for other teams.

It will be fun watching them do it.


Sedihawk said...

Good stuff BH. The ASU pick is good, but I don't know about AZ. Lute returning is big but I wouldn't be surprised if they stumble without Budinger or Bayless. I also wonder what SC will look like minus Mayo or Gibson. I would also slide Cal up the list. They have a lot of talent coming back, especially Anderson, and with a new coach as well they could be scary.

And I know the UW pick pains you, but I have to agree with it. They really don't lose much off this year's team, and while that isn't saying a lot, it's not like they were OSU-bad. And when you look at what everyone else is losing in the process, you have to think they'll be at least mid-divison next year.

New updates today re: Casto believes he'll be a Coug, IF he's eligible. And Katz says Bennett is staying here, period, while Bud Withers wrote about the recruits being contacted. Maybe Tony is using the Final Four media blitz to tell it to the world that he is staying, and GASP! He's actually HAPPY in the middle of nowhere-ville!??! :)

Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

My take on AZ is that Lute will convince the killer B's to stay AND with regard to CAL that Mr. Anderson will take the road to the NBA. In my book, he B. Lopez, and Collison are the two "most ready" for the show right now.

If the B's leave AZ and if Anderson stays at CAL, then I think that a shift in order may be appropriate...

Its a long way off...the fun thing is that we really won't know anything about anything until the conference season starts...

Sedihawk said...

KJR report this afternoon says KJR host and WSU alum Ian Furness met w/ President Floyd, who said Tony will not be looking at other jobs. Further, Tony WILL BE GETTING A RAISE among other things.

CASE CLOSED!.....for this year anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Hawkins, heard the same thing this morning. Floyd said at a breakfast meeting in Spokane that Bennett is staying and will not talk to other schools. Also said a raise is forthcoming, yet refrained from announcing the dollar amount. Happy times.

Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

It'll be 1 mil..

They had to pay him 900k this year with incentives...

All in all, this is going to turn into a multi-million dollar operation...You can bet that Floyd has his eyes set on making WSU a basketball school.

That's not to say that Wulf can't or won't get resources, but the next five years is going to be about T.B. If all goes well, when he leaves, Wulf should have made us a top 4 program in the conference...

Happy times indeed.

Unless you're a Husky..

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, only the Lopez twins have declared and both Jefferson and Mayo have declared they are staying. Supposedly Bayless is leaning towards staying.
My Pac-10
2. AZ
3. USC (they drop a spot if Mayo, Jefferson or Gibson leave and 2 if 2 out of 3 go)
4. WSU
5. ASU (just not convinced with their style of D)
6. UW
7. UO
8. Stan
9. Cal
10. OSU


Anonymous said...

Ptown has a good point, in that these kids are saying all the right things right now in how they MIGHT stay. But let's see if they change their tune by the deadline. It's hard to think Mayo would pass up being a top-5 pick. Same with Bayless.

Sedihawk said...

HOME RUN story on Wulff at!

This was in the front-page scroll. Nice to get some exposure, and Wulff's story is just so remarkable I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more national coverage up to this point. I imagine it'll pick up next fall, but still, nice to see Ted Miller give him such a good story.

Sedihawk said...

Oh, and ptowncoug, speaking of the pac-10 and the draft? New story today has Ryan Anderson declaring, but not hiring an agent:

Also a rundown of who's declared and who hasn't. Condotta says Bayless is likely turning pro, Budinger and Taj Gibson are 50-50 right now, and OJ Mayo is expected to go pro but hasn't said. Interesting stuff! Like someone else said above, it's probably too early to rank them for next year until all the draft prospects declare?

Anonymous said...

I suck at links, but there is a story from Howie Stalwick in the PI addressing Floyds comments in regards to Tony staying...Yatzee!


As per usual, a very nice breakdown of 09 pac-10 rankings. I like Arizona St. to win the pac next year. Their entire 9 deep roster from last year is back from a team that should have been dancing. I like them to win the pac. on!

By the way, I was down at the pac-10 tourney with my homey Mark Hendrickson and spoke to Tony Bennett. Mark flat out asked Tony "will you be back next year?" long story short....don't believe what you hear and he loves raising his kids in Pullman. He might be the nicest man I have ever met(sorry rooster)

PS- Keep an eye out for the mv hoops program in 2025. Boy coming on May 21st. Might name him Poo.

Ice Ice Baby...

KentCoug said...

I think Poo is a great choice for a name. Everybody I know with that name is hella cool.

I enjoyed the wrap-up and pics from NC, but I'm disappointed the drunken phone calls weren't mentioned in there. I wasn't sure if you were talking or I was just supposed to hear the music when you called, but that's all I heard. I was hoping it was "Humpty-dance" der-rrreert, der-rreert.

BTW, why is Warren Brown in all of the pics with you guys?