Saturday night, the Cougs put together what was without question their most complete game of the Pac 10 schedule. Early shooting struggles led the Cougs to grab the Windex and start cleaning the glass, and they did so on both ends of the floor. Against the conference's top rebounding team they came away with a 32-23 advantage (including 12 offensive boards). Starting at the 15 minute mark, down 12-4, the defense clamped down and the shooting really improved. Over the final 7 minutes of the first half, Arizona couldn't seem to buy a bucket and the Cougs were unable to put the gas pedal down; leading 32-26 at intermission. The second half was pure domination, aside from a 9-1 run that Zona put together, and the Cougs were able to stop a nasty three game losing streak.
Read on to see how the rest of the weekend played out.
Around the rest of the league, Ernesto may have sealed his fate with a blowout loss on the road at Oregon State. Funny note, my buddy Grimmace and I were in Corvallis on Saturday serving on the faculty of a regional event for our fraternity. We cruised through their bookstore and saw the Ducks were getting throttled and the game was almost over. With that in mind, as we were walking to Grimmace's truck just east of Gill Coliseum (wearing Cougar gear of course) we had to bait the Duck fans into asking how the game went. Being that his entire immediate family is Cougs, except his mom who's entire family is Beavs, growing up in Portland, Grimmace developed a hatred for the Ducks that knows no boundaries. Asking the Ducks this brought sheer joy to his face; the likes of which I hadn't seen since the weekend before as we rode a heater at a Snoqualmie Casino Craps table and I saw again Sunday when he hit a $200 Big Board bet with the numbers 1-7 as the final score of the Super Bowl. I thought my 4.5 to 1 was cool when I got the color of the Gatorade dump correct.
Washington destroyed Arizona State at home, and with their two wins and Arizona's two losses the top 9 teams in the league are separated by only 2.5 games. On that note, over at ESPN Mark Schlabach currently has zero teams as locks for the Big Dance, with only Washington and Cal as teams with work to do to get in. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if only the Pac 10 Tournament winner makes the Field of 65 come Selection Sunday.
Satuday's contest bore witness to the coming out party of Aussie freshmen Brock Motum. The freshmen who hails from the same school that produced Cougar Legend Aron Baynes, the Australia Institute of Sport, gave us 17 quality minutes off the bench and poured in a career high 10 points; including a beautiful dunk off a Klay Thompson assist. It was cool hearing the student section get behind him in chanting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oye, Oye, Oye."
Speaking of Klay, maybe he took a page out of Larry Bird's book like I suggested last week. He appeared calm and collected as he dropped 14 points, dished 4 assists, pulled down a few boards, blocked one shot and recorded one steal. Happy Belated 20th Birthday Klay! But the biggest individual story line came from one Coug whom I have chastised quite a bit recently. DeAngelo Casto had 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, in his first double digit scoring performance since the game last month in Tucson. All of his post moves seemed to work as he hit 62% of his shots from the floor. Hopefully this gave him a boost of confidence that he can build on against the Bay Area schools this week, as neither have superior players at the 4 or 5 spot.
In other Wazzu related news, incoming Freshmen Devontae Butler-Booker was named to the Old Spice Red-Zone Player of the Year list. This award is given based upon on-field performance, character and academics. Many schools backed off of Butler based on poor academics in the past, and hopefully I can provide you more details on him when I recap A Night With Cougar Football at the end of the week. Here is a great clip from Mel Kiper Jr. giving CPW's 2010 Signing Class some respect, listen right around the 2:30 minute mark.
It is great to see Coach Wulff & Co. off to a fast start with the 2011 class. One class ends, and the next one begins. Late last week the received a commitment from Max Hersey, a Cougar legacy, who appears to fit the DE/TE mold. While Bishop Sankey was recently bumped to a 4 Star ranking by Scout.com. Sankey's teammate at Gonzaga Prep, 6'6"Charlie Hopkins has a Wazzu offer and was recently added to the Scout 300 Watch List for 2011. Up north, Stanwood OL Dexter Charles has a WSU offer and per Cougfan, appears to be attending our Junior Day in a few weeks. His SHS teammate Zack Johnson will be a Preferred Walk On at WSU this fall.
In non-Wazzu related news, I was kind of surprised to see USC get a commitment from a 13 year old Delaware Quarterback. For those not keeping track at home, he is in the 7th Grade! I know kids get recruited younger and younger these days, but this is just an unbelievable stretch for Lane Kiffin and his staff. I thought it was absurd when he offered the younger brother of outgoing Tennessee Safety Eric Berry. He has five more seasons before he ever steps foot on a college campus.
Finally, the Seattle Mariners have resigned Pitcher Eric Bedard for one year and $1.5M. Bedard will likely remain on the disabled list for the first few months of the season, but seeing that we normally only get 3 months out of him anyways, this seemed like a good deal to me. Maybe he comes back in July and posts solid numbers over the final few months of the season, and winds up being a steal for us. Or maybe we just eat his contract...
That is all for now, have a great Tuesday! Go Cougs.