Thursday, February 28, 2008
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! Read more ...plus comments
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
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! Read more ...plus comments
Sunday, February 24, 2008
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... Read more ...plus comments
Saturday, February 23, 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!!! Read more ...plus comments
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. Read more ...plus comments
Thursday, February 21, 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. Read more ...plus comments
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
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.. Read more ...plus comments
Tuesday, 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 4x100 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! Read more ...plus comments
Saturday, February 16, 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!!! Read more ...plus comments
Friday, February 15, 2008
No matter how you cut it, a win is a win is a win is a win. In addition, sometimes playing games like that in empty gyms are the most difficult to play.
So, on we go to the mighty Quack Attack who, once again, seem to have found themselves JUST in the nick of time to play us (what the heck is up with that?).
But, even with a raucous crowd tomorrow at MacCourt and even as the mighty Quack do their utmost to scrap and bomb their way back to the upper division, it won't be enough.
You could see it in the offensive sets last night that this team is FINALLY putting it together, finally getting playmakers the ball in situations where they can do something with it, and we are starting to see our x factors (Rochestie, Harmeling, and kinda Cowgill) start to show themselves.
Granted, we could have an off shooting night. Granted, the Quack can put on a 14-16 three point barrage akin to what we saw last night, but this one is going to be ours. Granted we could return to that horrible trap and watch them dish and drain all night long.
But it ain't gonna happen.
Cougs 69 Quack 62
But we'll make it interesting by missing some FTs down the stretch...
Enjoy the weekend, because next week is going to be TOUGH!!!!!! Read more ...plus comments
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Anyway, in honor of the holiday men LOVE to hate, here are the top 10 reasons I LOVE being a Coug:
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Need, proof? How about this exhibition of man-love after beating a terrific, albeit unranked SC yesterday.
Now to the super-brief analysis:
First of all, the game showed what has been increasingly evident over the last few games (but has not been as noteworthy because of the losing streak): Kyle Weaver is becoming a DOMINANT player. His long range game is hitting its stride, his midrange game is improving, and his play around the basket is nothing short of spectacular. Moreover, because we have abandoned (I HOPE!) that trap defense and have been staying home, Weaver has been able to return to his chops as a terrific on-the-ball defender as well as a dude that can flat out defend a passing lane or help side as anyone that I can remember since G.P. The Dude is just flat out terrific--a real game changer.
In addition to Weaver, both Rochestie and Cowgill I thought both played well yesterday. Rochestie knotted 13 with four assists a ZERO tournovers, and Cowgill I thought played with much more confidence (Note to R.C.: Do NOT take shots without trying to use the glass. You short arm everything else--use the glass, its your friend!); D. Low played great, great defense; and NEEE-KOE-LAH slashed in a way that bodes quite well for upcoming tilts against the like of Arizona and the Quackers.
In terms of SC, well, what can you say? My take on them is that they are a team (as many young and athletic teams are) where their offense controls their energy on both ends of the floor (especially the defensive end). And, since Weaver bothers Mayo tremendously, they seem to collectively fade as their offensive struggles mount.
I say this because over the past 14 games or so, our offense and scheme has looked BY FAR the best against SC. While other teams consistently crowd us and bother us when we have the rock, SC for some reason does not. All day yesterday (as well as our January contest), the spacing on the floor, the ball movement, our off the ball movement, and our ability to get open looks was absolutely seamless. Hopefully, we can continue that down the stretch...
Which brings me to the week ahead.
As I said earlier in the year, I really think that it is high time for us to really consider starting Harmeling over Baynes. As I noted before, I think that Harmeling's presence early in the game is really key both to our ability to get him off, as well as our ability to spread the floor. As is, Baynes is clogging up the basket, not very quick to kick out of the double team, and is allowing guys to really crowd our backcourt. Moreover, because Baynes is getting foul trouble early, he has become a non-factor to us.
Again, as I've said before, Baynes' game would not change by coming in with 13:45 left in the half as opposed to starting. But, I think Harmeling's game changes a lot by being able to get in the flow from the get go. Remember, victories last year over the Zags, Arizona, and Stanford were led by Harmeling having 20+ points. He simply can not get that when playing off the bench and out of flow...
Anyhow, we'll see how things go. I think that Oregon State will be a win for us--whether its the 20 points blitz we'd like or the 2 point biter that we had last year.
Its the Oregon game that I am worried about. Will they be on? Will we stay back and make them shoot over the top of us as we have done so well over the past four games? Will we play footloose and fancy free?
We really need a sweep this next weekend, folks, in the worse way. Getting the sweep sets us up to get to that 6 win second half--something we desperately need--not only to get to the tournament, but to have a chance at making a run.
I'll post again following OSU.
Enjoy your week.
Oh yeah, WSU 69 OSU 54. Read more ...plus comments
Friday, February 08, 2008
Happy Weekend, Cougar Nation!
So, after what was thought to be a super, dream season, we now find ourselves squarely on the brink.
Lose tomorrow, and i think that you will watch these kids do a Husky-esque nose dive reminiscent of last year's Husky Floppers.
Win tomorrow and I think you will see our boys regroup en route to what should be both a very interesting AND very successful season.
Despite what the last two games have demonstrated record wise, I actually think that this team has shown a bit of a rebound--at least defensively. Last night, they generally stayed home, made UCLA play over the top, and battled like only our boys can--HARD. They played Bennett ball but simply were just outclassed by a true title contender.
Our current problem rests in three basic sources: a pretty stagnant offensive scheme, the MASSIVE disappearance of our main man Baynes, and an even bigger loss of confidence. Although I know that the days of 12-0 are a distant memory for most of us, but Baynes early on was a HUGE key to our success and ascension as was our moxy that we WOULD win any close game. Now, it appears as if we are fearful of the end of games.
In spite of scheme troubles (why we didn't backdoor their overplay Thursday night was unbelievable to me), I think that this group generally seems poised to make a run. The question is, can they get a stinkin win before its too late?
Win against SC, you get back over .500 and put yourself in a position to make a nice little run toward a 11-7 type finish--which would get us a nice 6-7 seed in the tourney.
Lose tomorrow, and you then face a real stinkin' struggle--with little relief in sight (all of the Oregon schools look like tough games, from this view. Then again, win today, get the confidence back to win close games and we could very easily be 20-5 heading into the Arizona schools).
I am real torn about which way this team is going to go. On one hand, I think that we are about to explode and really take one out on SC tomorrow.
On the other hand, I fear that any close game is not going to go our way.
In the end, I think that tomorrow Weaver slows down Mayo--I think Taylor plays well, and I think Baynes does too against a team that has no real answer for him.
We win this one 68-61 in a game that will be a lot like last year--we won by 7 but were in "total control" the whole time.
The rebound (and can we get some of those too?) starts against SC, folks.
And it better.
It better. Read more ...plus comments
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Happy NLI Day. I'm back from the casino with a couple pages of notes; $20 bucks more than I had when I left the house (I hit it big in 3-card poker); and I reek of cigarette smoke.
I moved to Spokane 2 1/2 years ago and I can vouch for the fact that there is a noticibly higher percentage of dudes with mulletts here than anywhere on "the coast" - as we Spokanites refer to Seattle - with the possible exception of Kent. There are lots of guys with mulletts here, but they're mostly run-of-the-mill. Occasionally, you might see a really long one or one with a sweet perm or something - but for the most part, you stop noticing them because you're so used to them. Well, tonight at the Casino after the recruiting dealie, I stuck around to play some cards and I saw what could only be described as the best mullett in the history of mankind. And I know mulletts...
Freshman McBoob, circa 1988
Anyway, you know how Joe Dirt's mullett is kind of a caricature of the real-life mullett? Well this guy's mullett was actually better than Joe Dirt's but it was on a real dude - and no shit - he was wearing a tavern jacket. He was actually with a fairly hot chick too, which made it even better.
So anyway, this mullett was SWEET! I actually made two attempts to capture it's soul with my cellphone camera but alas, it was too elusive. Sorry about that. But seriously, thank you WSU, for having this thing at a casino in Spokane.
This is from one of Mini McBoob's animal fact books:
"Young cougars are about two years old before they have enough hunting skills to catch their own food. Adult cougars care for them until they are able to live on their own."
Wulff and staff made it pretty clear that this class may require some patience on all of our part, before they mature and become cougars who "hunt and kill."
"Although cougar cubs are cute and cuddly-looking, they are dangerous and should never be approached in the wild. The young cubs will scratch and bite in self defense, and their mothers will attack anyone approaching their young."
The feelings of one coach were that we may have a tough year ahead - but we WILL win some games that no one expects us to. I also suspect that as hard as this staff had to work to put together a recruiting class this big in only a month and a half, they will defend it as a class that could be to the football program, what Low, Weaver and Cowgill are to the basketball program. (You never know...)
The staff is well aware of the fact that this class is comprised mostly of kids who were lightly recruited by Pac-10 schools - if at all. As Coach Wulff put it, recruiting is based on creating relationships with players, coaches and moms and dads. That process usually takes a year or more. With only a month and a half to do the job, there was little time to forge new relationships so in many cases, they went with the players with whom they were familiar from EWU. They also worked hard to find those coveted diamonds in the rough with whom we have become so familiar over the years.
Wulff said they went after kids who were versatile, big, athletic and fast. Maybe more importantly (just kidding - but it's still pretty important, right Barbara Hedges?), they were looking for high-character kids with strong academics, who would represent the university well.
I'm really bad at judging the size of a crowd, but I'd say about 300 Cougs came out to hear about the first recruiting class of the new coaching regime. It was a free event, yet there was a buffet. Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't this money have been better spent on oh, I don't know, the stadium rennovation? I fasted throughout the event, in silent protest (although I did have a cup of coffee.)
As I entered, I scanned the room for familiar faces and not seeing any friends, picked a seat along the wall, right next to Jim Moore. I'm a fan of the Go 2 Guy but I have too much pride to appear the slightest bit star-struck, so I didn't acknowledge that I knew who he was. That said, I was dying to chat him up.
Because of yet another winter storm moving through the area, there was about a half hour between the time I sat down and the time the event really got going. As we sat there, coaches started trickling in. This gave me the "ice-breaker" I was looking for with Moore. One of the last coaches to roll in was our new D Coordinator. I leaned over to Moore and said "USC has Ken Norton...and we have Jody Sears." It drew a small chuckle and opened the door to a few more smartass remarks back and forth for the rest of the night.
The only two guys in the room who did not give coach Wulff a standing 'O' were Moore and myself - two cynical bastards. I'm generally happy with Wulff as our new coach but think he might do well to receive some publicity training. He's not the most dynamic of speakers.
I once worked with a guy who had been around longer than most, had more knowledge than most and had more desire and passion than most. But he was really fat and usually appeared disheveled and dumpy (sounds like me, I know). Every time there was a promotion available, he'd get passed over because management thought he "needed more polish." Paul Wulff is not even close to Mark Mangino but he's also light years away from Steve Spurrier. He needs some more practice at the public speaking thing - I'll just leave it at that.
That said, Wulff comes across as very genuine. If he lacks charisma in front of a crowd of yokel alumni, he makes up for it in work ethic with his team. I believed him when he said that although no current members of the team have left school due to the coaching change, that very well could change after they start workouts. "We're going to work 'em" he said. "Maybe some guys will leave because they don't want to work (that hard)."
Wulff introduced his staff and I'm not sure if this is news or not, introduced Chris Ball and Jody Sears as Co-D-Coordinators. Of the coaches, Broussard got a well-deserved ovation, as did Levy. I kept my eye on him as the coaches took their seats at their tables, looking to see how he interacted with the other coaches. Wulff described Levy as "the best receivers coach in the country" and it looks like he's fitting in well with the new staff.
I mentioned above that a coach made a statement about our fortunes for next year and the fact that we'd surprise some people. Well that same coach (who I won't name) is an acquaintence of mine and he told me this in a quick, private conversation. He also told me that this staff was night and day from last year. These guys are a tight bunch, who work well together, work hard and have a ton of energy. When Chris Ball spoke he said it was "the best coaching staff in the country."
Speaking of Chris Ball, in my opinion, he stole the show. "When I left here," he said "we were Pac-10 champs. That's where we want to get back to." If Ball was apprentice to Mike Price, one of the things he learned was how to work a crowd. His story was great. After Wulff was hired, Ball received a phone call from Bill Doba. "Paul Wulff is going to be calling you", he said, and soon after, the phone indeed rang - but Ball did not answer. Knowing what his options were for this year, he had to weigh them with his family, including his wife who was not thrilled with the idea of another move. When his son, a freshman in high school, found out that Pullman was one of three options, he lit up. "There's only one place I'll go, Dad" and as you can guess, that place was Pullman. We are very fortunate to have Chris Ball on this staff and on the same day that Jim Mora Jr. was announced as the next head coach of the Seahawks, I couldn't help but wonder what the future holds for him in Pullman...
Todd Sturdy also spoke and I have to say, it was "like at first sight." He seems like a no-nonsense kind of guy and is very confident in hmself and his offense. The question was tip-toed around - but asked on two different occasions (not in so many words): Will this no-huddle, D-II offense work in the Pac-10? I got the feeling that Sturdy bit his tongue when he tactfully replied that the same plays are being run by BCS schools all over the country. The scheme works - but as always, it's up to the players to execute it. The task now at hand for the staff is to evaluate the players to determine how they will fit in the system. Sturdy assures that there will be competition at every spot - including quarterback. Though he did elude to the fact that he'd love to see Gary Rodgers - and other upperclassmen win jobs because you want to see the seniors "lead the young guys."
After listening to the coordinators, here's the Cliff's Notes for next year:
On Offense, we will feature a balanced attack. We'll be up-tempo, aggressive and smart. On Defense, we will feature an 8-man front, with speed on the edges. Everything we do will be predicated on stopping the run first. "We will be the best tackling team in the Pac-10," said Ball. We will be fundamentally sound.
When Recruiting Coordinator Rich Rasmussen spoke, he made one thing very clear. Over MLK weekend, we hosted 9 recruits and their families. The ONE thing that really turned these kids Crimson, was seeing the incredible support the crowd gave the basketball team during the Oregon game. That turned out to be a recurring theme throughout the night. This team NEEDS our support. As Coach Wulff said at the end of the night, "I've made the drive from Cheney and Spokane to Pullman at least 15 times in the last month and a half. It's not that bad. We need you guys to make that trip only 5 times this fall!"
Eventually, we got to see a little film on our recruits. It was literally only a few clips of each kid and it went by very quickly - but I did manage a few notes on most of them. Without further Madu, here are some of the newest Cougs.
Adam Coerper TE/DE 6'5"/230 Hood River, OR. Listed as a TE/DE and showed good blocking ability in clips. Lined up as an H-Back in one clip, he motioned back across the line and crushed an OLB. Projected as a DE at WSU.
Kevin Frank DB 5'10"/170 Elk Grove, CA. Related to former Coug and NFLer Ricky Reynolds, Frank may be the fastest kid in this class. With legit 4.3-4.4 speed, he's one of only a few true freshmen that may play this year. Projected as a CB.
Terrance Hayward DB 6'1"/175 Carson, CA. Hayward just turned 17 in November and according to Wulff, if given another year of High School ball he'd be the focus of a major recruiting battle. He's going to grow and will be big and physical. I suspect that may mean he projects as a Safety but it was not mentioned where he projects. Given his age, you have to wonder if he's one of the few kids the staff will ask to grayshirt.
Tim Hodgdon OL 6'3"/287 Ladera Ranch, CA. Wulff says Hodgdon is actually 6'4" and 300+ lbs. He has a nasty streak that the coach loves. "He'll knock guys down and then lay on top of 'em."
Jared Karstetter WR 6'4"/195 Spokane, WA. Hometown kid drew a good cheer from the crowd but coach didn't have a whole lot to say about him. He's still growing and has great potential. My guess is he'll either get faster and develop his route-running under Levy; or they'll start feeding him and make him a TE.
Anthony Laurenzi DT 6'3"/260 Placentia, CA. Looks like a high-motor, relentless type of player.
Mike Ledgerwood LB 6'1"/215 Finley, WA. One of several recruits who attended EWU camp. Staff is familiar with him and likes his football mentality. Has a nose for the ball but did not look horribly fast. If he succeeds at this level, will be labeled an over-achiever, a la Pat Bennett, Steve Gleason, Scott Davis, etc.
Andrei Lintz TE 6'4"/220 Bellingham, WA. The "hidden gem" of the class, according to Wulff. Whether he winds up at TE or DE, "he'll be one of the best players at his position in the Pac-10." Should be fun to watch his development.
Josh Luapo DT 6'0"/295 Torrance, CA. Lined up at DE in a couple clips, showed good quickness and strength. Will be compared to Ahmu. Lets hope he's better.
Cory Mackay WR 6'4"/215 Redmond, WA. Lined up at OLB in one clip, he crashed in and absolutely blew up a fullback. Drawing a gasp from the crowd, Wulff said, "Let's watch that again!" He re-wound the clip and said, "now imagine this guy (the fullback) wearing purple, with a gold helmet!" "You gotta love this guy!" said Wulff. "He spurned UW!" (to sign with us.)
Jay Matthews S 6'1"/200 Lake Oswego, OR. Another kid who may play this year. Looks like a hard-hitter from center field. Also offered by OSU.
Kevin Norrell WR 5'9"/180 Los Angeles, CA. Another potential hidden gem, discovered in LA by Bruiser. Did not draw a lot of attention because he played with a bad QB. Showed great hands and balance on a poorly thrown ball and can also return kicks.
Tyson Pencer DE/TE 6'6"/260 Delta, B.C. Hold-over should be ready to go this fall. Showed clips of him playing middle LB. I'm thinking with more bulk, he could be the next Rien Long.
Alex Reitnour OL 6'5"/235 LaCanada, CA. Needs to put on weight to play in the Pac-10 but he has good feet and can play all 5 spots on the line.
Jessy Sanchez DE 6'2"/265 Culver City, CA. Good combination of size and speed. Coming in as a junior, he's "ready to play in the Pac-10."
Calvin Schmidtke QB 6'0"/186 University Place, WA. We've all heard the Gesser comparisons as well as those to Todd Reesing at Kansas and Chase Daniel at Mizzou - and Wulff echoed those sentiments. Another guy who camped at EWU, so the staff is very familiar with him. He's very competitive and you can tell that the staff belives he can run their offense. Showed decent arm strength and ability to move.
Daniel Simmons CB 5'10"/178 Ontario, CA. The last fax to roll in yesterday was from Simmons so you've probably not heard much about him. All you need to know is that Wulff thinks he could play as a true frosh.
Dan Spitz TE/DE 6'5"/245 Spokane, WA. Another hometown kid who will need to find his position. Very athletic but needs more bulk. Showed nice hands.
Chantz Staden RB 5'11"/200 Campbell, CA. Physical runner but has great hands. Expect to see him lined up all over the field.
Skylar Stormo TE/DE 6'4"/227 Everett, WA. Another big, athletic kid who will need to find his position.
Tyree Toomer DB 6'0"/180 Bellflower, CA. Coach thinks he was overlooked by many because he played out of position in HS. Projects at S for the Cougs. Legit 4.4 speed and he likes to hit.
Michael Vandenkolk WR 5'10"/175 Carlsbad, CA. Son of Cougar parents. Is smart, competitive and runs well. We'll see what Levy can do with him.
Zack Williams OL 6'3"/285 Pasadena, CA. Very physical player on the OL. Has the nasty streak you look for in a dominant lineman and according to Wulff, has NFL ability. With enough depth on the line and 3 to play 2, Williams may redshirt.
Bernard Wolfgramm DE 6'3"/270 San Mateo, CA. Showed the ability to dominate in JC and will be counted on to step right in and be a star on the Cougar D. Largely considered the best "get" of the class.
In closing, Wulff announced that "Recruiting is done today; and tommorow, we go to work."
The 2008 WSU football season began with a workout at 6AM this morning. Basketball. Shmasketball.
Go Cougs!Read more ...plus comments
Our own Hooty McBoob will be along at some point soon to recap the signing day event. Looking forward to the breakdown, and we'll take it a step further and highlight some of these prospects and who might get on the field next year.
Speaking of next year.....can someone please tell me what, exactly, old Dobes and staff were doing this fall? To think that Wulff pulled together what, 21 kids in 6 weeks? Remarkable. And as Brinkhater told me earlier today, it's not like every kid we got was headed for Central. Sure, we didn't rob the greatest school in the history of ever in UW, nor did we even do much against the likes of Oregon State or Stanford, but hey, given the circumstances, we did ok.
Again, please, someone tell me what Doba was doing. Why do I ask this question? Well, have you heard the latest?
Wulff was on Dennis Patchin's show today and it was NOT sounding good. To recap, we've got major depth issues that "surprised" Wulff that "a Pac-10 school could be so thin." He spoke especially of the defensive line position and the secondary. Did you know we have THREE cornerbacks on scholarship right now? THREE. Uh, yeah, that's really, really bad. We have one running back coming off a torn ACL in Tardy, who's barely eligible by the way. We have another running back in Ivory that IS a major, major grade risk right now, to the point that some claim it could be an upset if he's able to make grades this year.
Even worse, according to Patchin, WSU is now in danger of losing scholarships next year due to the APR rule, or Academic Progress Rate. If they fall below a specific number, then we will be penalized with loss of scholies. That's not a good thing for this program.
Then you have the off-the-field stuff, like Xavier Hicks and Ahmu, both projected starters, both still suspended from all team activities. SO HOW ABOUT THAT RECRUITING CLASS, EH??
Well, I hope Wulff can pull this program together, but I think we're only now starting to grasp the absolute rebuilding job that lies ahead. But Doba, dude, I know you had some tough things happen, but WTF?? As someone on Cougfan wrote today:
"the more that comes out about the Doba era, the more I dislike him. And many around here consider him a "great cougar"...get real he is our Gilberston; from his inability to judge talent, character, coaches, talking to the media, the supposed influence of message boards for poor recruiting, the recruiting mistakes in general, the inability to prepare for an opponent, just too many BS excuses, and now the possible loss of scholarships.
Just brutal, all the while he sits back and is going to collect 1.1 million from WSU. Read more ...plus comments
Monday, February 04, 2008
As we sit two days away from signing day, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at last night's thriller of a Super Bowl. But real quick on signing day - our own Hooty McBoob will be at the signing day extravaganza on Wednesday night and will provide the instant reactions to what he sees, so stay tuned for that on Wednesday or Thursday.
So about that game last night - so many twists and turns, so many things on the line, and it was a classic finish. But here's the thing that Rooster told me this AM - Eli Manning is a SUPER BOWL CHAMPION?? The same nervous, erratic QB that they were just destroying since last year in the NY papers and Even Tiki Barber? That kid brother of Peyton took them all the way down the field for the game-winner?? Unbelievable. And that is why we watch, isn't it?
How about that Giants defense? They did to the Pats exactly what they did to Tampa, Dallas and Green Bay. They took away the run, completely, put the offense in 3rd and long, and then unleashed the BEASTS on that d-line. And what a bunch of physical monsters on that d-line. Osi, Strahan, Justin Tuck, WOW, those guys are just ass-kickers. Amazing how different a QB will perform if he's uncomfortable isn't it? Here Brady broke all those records this year, the team was 18-0, but he was under fire all damn game! Amazing.
This game in a way reminded me of the first Patriots SB win. Remember that one? They beat the Rams as a double-digit underdog with a physical defense and a mistake-free offense. But most of all, they punched the favored, offensive Rams in the mouth and by the end it got the job done. That's exactly what we saw last night.
That Giants d-coordinator, John Spag-something, is going to be one hot property, if he doesn't get the Redskins job this week that is! Also interesting that some of the biggest upsets have now happened at that stadium in Arizona - Last year it was Boise State and then Florida over Ohio State, this year it was West Virginia over Oklahoma and now one of the biggest SB upsets ever.
Anyway, I don't know if words can fully explain it, but I thought that catch by Tyree when Eli somehow escaped a sure sack was just amazing. Check out these pics. And let me ask, is it the greatest catch in SB history?? Simply amazing. HOW DID HE HOLD ON TO THAT BALL? Harrison had his hand on it as well and was trying to rip it out of there, and he somehow held on to that ball? UNREAL.
Read more ...plus comments
Saturday, February 02, 2008
But, before we set a framework for breaking it all down, I'd thought I'd post the picture of our good friend, brinkhater hater, and super non-contributor to this blog, Mr. Anonymous.
Anony: Guess what, Honey? I am going nowhere (and nowhere fast, I might add)...So either develop a take about how much I suck in spite of predicting our fortunes with over 95% accuracy, or quit smelling your fingers on this blog. Dig it?
Now back to our collective problems.
And while they are basic, they are nonetheless VERY troubling.
Two weeks ago, we started the whole high trap thing, which as noted here previously was a complete disaster. Today we showed the low-post double down which CLEARLY resulted in turnovers and a low total score. But, with a 46 (or something) percent percentage allowed, we're still scrambling A LOT more than last year. And, while I have been unwilling to give-in over the course of the season to this exact sentiment, TODAY we REALLY showed how much we miss Ivory Clark.
Last year, with Mr. Clark in tow, there were few double teams in the post. Instead, when one of the Lopez twins would spin toward the baseline to put the ball off the glass and in, Clark would come from the weakside and put the darn ball in the stands.
The other factor to consider is that when the post is doubled FROM the weakside big, the weakside boards are totally wide open. This leads to tap-ins from the weakside, kick-outs, and the like.
Obviously, we saw the consequences of that today.
Finally, while the low-post trap takes away SOME of the need for the 1-3 guys to rotate and scramble, it still causes rotation problems. And one of the things that made us so dangerous and effective last year was that we had NO rotation problems because players basically stayed home ALL the fricking time.
On one hand, you saw some really good offensive performances today by Low and Weaver. Unfortunately for us, those were all really good INDIVIDUAL offensive performances. Virtually NONE of our runs were generated out of set plays from our offense (beyond some isolations, which represent the paradoxical non-set, set plays).
As a result, when Stanford countered with their own runs, we had a hard time countering back because we had NO offensive flow the entire stinking game--even if we had some guys that were having some good individual offensive performances (in Weaver's case a career high).
As we noted on the blog earlier in the season, I noted that we had a VERY concerning lack of offensive structure. Following that post, we proceeded to EXECUTE and POUND the University of Southern California. Unfortunately, we have not been the same team since.
And so, we now head into a big loss on Thursday, followed by the GAME FOR OUR SEASON a week from today against SC.
Our goal now: finish in the top half of the division and make the stinking NCAA tourney. While that is a serious task at this point, here's the three point recipe for doing so:
1) Continue to develop the defense without having to trap as much as possible (we've seen improvement there and we're well on our way).
2) Make Kyle Weaver the point guard.
And thus 3:
3) Make Taylor Rochestie a more focal part of the offense. The kid can drive, the kid can shoot, AND the kid is NAILS from the free-throw line.
Moreover, a hot Taylor Rochestie WILL open the floor for everyone else as he creates off the dribble as well as anyone on the roster including Low and Weaver.
I simply see no other solution to our offensive doledrums. We need a consistent additional offensive presence and Taylor's it. But he can not assert himself and become that third option while playing point guard.
So, Comment away, Cougar nation...
Maybe somehow, someway, we can upset UCLA and get a bit of Swagger back heading into the season's second half.
Just don't bank on it. Read more ...plus comments
Friday, February 01, 2008
Yep, its that time, time to go ahead and jump off that god damn bridge into the deep abyss.
Like it or not, we are now a SOLID 3-3 in our last six games.
Like it or not, despite lofty expectations and equally lofty National Rankings, this team is in a mid-season funk and looks like it belongs somewhere in the middle of the PAC.
Which makes tomorrow's game as important as ANY game that has been played over the past two years. Win and you finish the 4-5 (home-away) split at a solid 6-3 with UCLA on Thursday. Lose and you're 5-4, about to be 5-5, and dare I say, possibly 5-6????
Its big, folks, REAL BIG.
But, before everyone goes all CWAZY with the sky is falling stuff, realize this:
THIS TEAM HAS NOT PLAYED MORE THAN 2 OR 3 GAMES WHERE MORE THAN 3 PLAYERS HAVE BROUGHT THEIR "A" GAMES.
And that's the truth.
So, when you think about it, the fact that this team is 17-3 having NOT put it all together is really a story.
The question is whether or not this is a group that will ever "put it together" (think 2006 Seahawks).
Tomorrow, Stanford comes in loosey goosey having already gained a split. We, on the other hand, figure to be tight as hell.
The first half and our ability to not dig a hole early is really, really key. THAT and Mr. Baynes must stay out of foul trouble. I like Robbie on the second twin and I like Weaver on Goods.
So, its going to come down to Baynes matching R. Lopez and Harmeling, Low, and Rochestie having good offensive games.
Stanford 61 WSU 54
How quickly things change. Read more ...plus comments