Ever take a drive in the mountains and find yourself constantly looking in the rear-view mirror, trying to catch a glimpse of the snow-covered peak behind, because what’s ahead isn’t as pretty? You know you shouldn’t be glancing back so much, because the road has a bunch of those “Watch for falling rock” signs, but you do it anyway. No? Shoot. I wanted to use that as a metaphor for the Cougars and this weekend. Though they didn’t play particularly well against Oregon State, they did earn a Pac-10 win. But now they have to face a ticked-off Oregon team that hasn’t won a conference game yet – and shows all the signs that an explosion is just down the road. If WSU is caught looking back to Thursday night, it could easily go off a cliff Saturday morning here in Eugene.
Of course, we have no such problem. On the link we look back at the Oregon State game … and look at the Huskies’ win over the Ducks as well. Read on.
• Our take on the game was pretty well covered in the game story we posted here last night, but we have some other thoughts as well. And, before we get into the links, we might as well share those thoughts. … Let’s see, where to start? How about the freshmen? What you saw last night from DeAngelo Casto was typical of first-year players. Casto was superlative against Stanford last Saturday, one of the main reasons why WSU won. But against the Beavers he looked lost, illustrating the up-and-down nature of freshmen adjusting to college basketball (it reminded me a lot of five years ago, when Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, Robbie Cowgill, et al went through the same roller-coaster ride; there just wasn’t the strong upperclass infrastructure then to gut out wins like there is now). Some of you might wonder why Casto didn’t play more in the second half. The reason is simple. Tony Bennett has told him he has to take care of the basketball if he wants to play. Put simply, catch the ball or sit. When he stone-handed two passes early in the second half, he was out. The message is sent. Improve in this area if you want to play. He wants to play, so he’ll get better. … The seniors set an example, each in their own way. Aron Baynes (pictured above scoring over two Beavers in this Associated Press photo) showed how you overcome early foul trouble, playing – and dominating – all of the final 25 minutes of the game – the first time in his WSU career he’s played an entire half without sitting, according to his recollection. Daven Harmeling illustrated the need to have amnesia at times, forget the past and make the play you are capable of in the moment. Caleb Forrest hit the floor more times than a mop, tipping balls away and matching OSU’s hustle. And Taylor Rochestie? He showed once again that resilience is a big part of leadership. Not getting down after missing a possible game-winner in regulation and taking charge in overtime. … Bennett loves to say “all hands on deck.” He used the phrase a lot last year. But this season, it might be more apropos. Last night he threw Charlie Enquist out there for a few first-half minutes, Abe Lodwick contributed for a while and Marcus Capers came up big. “Marcus’ contributions, especially in the second half (which he started) was huge,” Rochestie said. “Charlie came in and did a good job when we needed some rebounds. Coach said it after the game. Whoever it is, just be ready. Different people are going to have to come in at different moments and step up. Today it was Marcus, Klay making that back-door cut in overtime, Charlie. It could be anybody, anytime.” … Speaking of Rochestie, he scored his 1,000 career point in the first half. Asked about what it meant to him he answered: “It means it helped to get the win today.”
• OK, enough of my rambling. Let’s get to the links. Besides our story, you can find game coverage from freelancer Howie Stalwick in the P-I and other Seattle-area newspapers. If you’re wondering about the state’s largest newspaper, the Seattle Times, it ran the Associated Press story. From the OSU perspective, there’s Paul Buker’s game story on the Oregonian website, Cliff Kirkpatrick’s piece from Corvallis and this from Gary Horowitz in the Statesman-Journal. … The Ducks were blown out by the Huskies, dropping to 0-5 in conference play. We have game stories from the Times and P-I, along with the Oregonian. There’s also this summary of both from the Oregonian. … From around the Pac-10, USC turned the ship around a little bit, upsetting Arizona State at home. And UCLA continued to roll, dominating UA at Pauley.
• UPDATE: WSU will be releasing its football schedule today. The Cougars will open with Stanford at home Sept. 5, though there is a good chance - about 75 percent - this game will be moved to Thursday night, Sept. 3 - avoiding Labor Day weekend - and be on TV somewhere. They will have a bye in October, and play the Apple Cup on Thanksgiving Saturday, Nov. 28. The Oregon State game will be in Pullman the week before, moved from the originally scheduled October date and allowing the bye. Having a home game that Saturday is not ideal, but playing 12 consecutive weeks would be even worse. Here is the school’s release on the schedule. Notice the tough three-game road trip late.
• Let’s switch gears. The Cougar women won their first Pac-10 game of the season, handling Oregon State rather easily. … Mark Sanchez announced he was entering the NFL draft, angering Pete Carroll and opening the door for another USC quarterback.
• That’s it for this morning. We’ll be back this evening with the unedited version of our Saturday advance. It will be late, because practice isn’t until late afternoon. We’ll leave you with Rochestie’s thoughts on tomorrow’s game with the Ducks. “Every game is important, they are still going to be a great team, the Pit is still a hard place to play and winning on the road is winning on the road.” Pretty much says it all. Till later …