Remember last season when WSU lost three consecutive home games? The Cougars avoided losing a fourth by thundering O.J. Mayo and USC, 74-50. Which means WSU hasn't lost four in-a-row at home since 2004, Dick Bennett's first year. But that is a possibility tonight if the Cougars can't figure out a way to get past Cal. Read on.
• There's a potpourri of WSU news this morning, but we'll start in Spokane. We ran my feature on Cal and Stanford today, along with some information on the up coming weekend. I couldn't find my notes, so I'm pasting the raw version here along with some items that didn't make the paper.
Though Washington State still leads the nation in field goal percentage defense (35.1 percent) and in scoring defense (50.8 points per game), the Cougars have fallen to 303 (out of 330) in scoring offense at 59.2. A big part of the latter statistic comes from an inability to get easy buckets. WSU has a negative turnover ratio and ranks 309 in the nation in steals. "When you don't score (and) we are struggling to score in the 50s or high 40s the last couple games," said WSU coach Tony Bennett, "that does put some pressure on you defensively. We just have to keep finding ways, looking at adjustments, certainly." ... One adjustment might be the return of Nik Koprivica to the starting lineup at a wing in place of Daven Harmeling, who has taken just one shot in two games. Harmeling seems more comfortable coming off the bench and playing the power forward spot. ... Senior Caleb Forrest received a technical in the loss to Washington after slapping Darnell Gant in the back late in the game. Gant also was assessed a T for responding. "I think there was some back-and-forth going on between he and (Gant)," Bennett said. "I don't know if (that was) why he got the technical, but he lost his head. ... Caleb (is) a good kid and I've been around him know for four years, he immediately apologized and after the game he apologized to coach Romar and Gant." Bennett said he dealt with Forrest and nothing further was planned. ... Though guard Mike Harthun is being charged with marijuana possession dating back to a November dorm incident, Bennett said earlier there would be no more team discipline. Harthun's three-game suspension, which he served right after the incident, covered all aspects of the infraction of team rules. ... The two teams at the bottom of the Pac-10 standings, Arizona and Oregon, have markedly different problems. The Wildcats lost twice in the Bay Area in large part because Chase Buddinger has lost his shot. He's connected on just 12 of 50 shots the last four games, including 8 of 25 last weekend. Oregon is playing five freshmen for at least 10 minutes each, with three starting. The Ducks lost twice at home last weekend. ... Oregon State's overtime upset of USC not only broke a 21-game conference losing streak, it earned coach Craig Robinson a call from his brother in law, President-elect Barack Obama.
• Let's move on to other sources. There's an advance from freelancer Howie Stalwick in the P-I and an Associated Press piece in the News Tribune. From the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle has this feature on the Bears' 6-foot-8 Harper Kamp, who will face Aron Baynes in the middle tonight and the Oakland Tribune's Jeff Faraudo has this advance. By the way, the road won't be as tough tonight for the Bears considering the students are just started to trickle into town. Two more Bay Area pieces, this one from the Mercury News on Stanford center Josh Owens and a Palo Alto Daily News one on the Pac-10.
• That's it for this morning. I know a lot of you will probably be watching Oklahoma face Florida for the made-up national football title on TV tonight and listening to Bud on the radio (there's no TV from Beasley), but don't forget to check your computer. We'll post our pregame thoughts. Till then ...