About five minutes ago I wasn't sure I was going to be able to post anything new tonight. After reading through my notes on Tony Bennett's press conference today and after observing practice in the afternoon, there wasn't a whole heck of lot to relate other than the Cougars don't want to be Oregon's first conference win and were doing everything possible to avoid that fate. Then something popped up. Read on.
• Bennett was asked seven questions on his conference call today, and five of them were by yours truly. The first two related to a story I'm doing for Thursday on the Cougars' postseason chances, and we're not just talking the Holy Grail (NCAAs) here. Any postseason tournament. We'll save those answers for the story. He also fielded two questions from the Times' Bud Withers about Marcus Capers – he's got to work hard during the offseason on his shot – and Klay Thompson – the fact he's been part of the two in an opponents triangle-and-two defense shows what people in the conference think of his ability. I followed those questions with one about the proverbial wall freshmen are supposed to hit, and Bennett said different players have hit it at different times. Switching gears, I wondered if he would have been happier of Oregon had won a game already and Bennett said yes, if only for coach Ernie Kent, who he likes and respects. Bennett also added he felt the Ducks were a lot like the Cougars, in that they've been inconsistent. He also added they are playing faster and better now. The follow up concerned the final 8 minutes of the first game in Eugene, was that how Oregon was playing now? Bennett said the Ducks were a little bit in desperation mode during that stretch and showed how tough they could be to guard. That's carried over and they are playing a bit faster now.
In his Pac-10 call, Bennett answered some of the same sort of questions, but was called on to analyze Cal's bench players as well as UW's ability to put a big run on an opponent. And, oh yes, he talked a little about Caleb Forrest's injury late in the Cal game. Forrest dove for a ball and fell on his, well, let's just say groin area. I understand the Fox Sports broadcast showed a teammate trying to suppress a laugh over the injury. Well, as they say on My Name is Earl, karma can be a bitch, as said player suppressing a laugh was hit in the same area during Monday's practice.
• Tuesday's practice was a high-spirited affair, though no one left the court with a groin injury. It was so high spirited and intense, in fact, Bennett cut it short and praised the effort. He told his team that's exactly what he was looking for and they accomplished a lot, especially in their offensive execution. At one point Taylor Rochestie walked over during a five-on-five drill asking if we wanted to try our luck at getting a stop. He was doing everything he could and was having no luck. The defense was good, the offense was just better.
• OK, that's enough of that basketball stuff. I wanted to pass along a couple of football items I had forgotten to post here before. I've had the dates for spring football for a couple of days and neglected to share them. It will start March 26 (a Thursday) and finish April 25 (a Saturday). There will be 15 practices spread out over that period, all leading up to a scrimmage on the final day. The Cougars will then return to the practice field as a team in early August in preparation for the season opener against Stanford on Sept. ... well, there's still some discrepancy about that. See, the game was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5. As we've written here before, the WSU administration has given the athletic department permission to play the game on Thursday, Sept. 3. And that is not only something WSU would like to do, but something the Cardinal has already presumed will happen, posting the date on their website. There's only one problem with Stanford's announcement. It's premature. WSU hasn't moved the game yet and probably won't unless it will be on TV. The problem is Fox Sports Northwest already has a Mariners game from Oakland scheduled for that night. So who could televise the Cougar game? Who knows. We'll keep you up-to-date on this.
• That's it for this evening. We'll be back in the morning. Till then …