How important is this week to WSU's postseason chances? Is crucial a good enough word? Is make-or-break a big enough phrase? Probably neither truly apply, but they sure caught your interest, didn't they? Anyhow, we'll explain why these games are important on the link, with those thoughts being joined by our spin around the conference this morning. Read on.
• Washington State: The Cougars head into the week 15-8 overall. They play four of their final seven conference games on the road. My guess, and it's only a guess built on experience, is 18 wins gives WSU a postseason berth, though a third NCAA berth in four years will take winning the Pac-10 Tournament. So why is this week so important? Three reasons. The Cougars played their best basketball game of the season last Saturday in routing Arizona. Building on that effort is crucial to not only finishing the regular season strong but also for building momentum into postseason play. Stanford is first up Thursday, a team WSU has already defeated – albeit in a closer-than-it-should-have-been game in Pullman – and is one of the Pac-10's three worst teams. A win at Stanford cements a winning overall record and eases pressure down the stretch. Finally, Cal will get tested mightily – OK, change "will" to "should" – by UW as the Huskies are desperate – OK, change "are" to "should be" – to show they can win away from Seattle, and get back into the title hunt. Which means WSU should go into Berkeley on Saturday to face a team either exhausted after a tough loss or complacent after a key win. Either should – and yes, that's the right word – be helpful to WSU's cause. Winning both games should lockdown a postseason berth for WSU. Losing both would bleed away much of its chances. ... WSU coach Ken Bone will meet the media this morning as he does every Tuesday, then the Cougar players talk after practice. We'll get back with you later with more on what's been said. ... As for links, all we have is the news WSU's April Cook was named Pac-10 player of the week on the women's hoops side of things.
• Around the Pac-10: Speaking of player of the week, UW's Quincy Pondexter won the award for the fourth time. Do you think that translates into winning the player of the year honor? ... The UW road trip to Cal may just determine who wins the regular season title. ... After losing big in Pullman, Arizona couldn't wait to get back to Tucson, where the Cats haven't been too often this season. They play five of their final seven at McKale. ... One man's opinion of the conference right now. ... Don't know if your heard, but Arizona State had to schedule a second FCS school (Portland State) to fill a hole in this fall's schedule. Jeff Metcalfe tells you why and what it means. ... Finally, the Pac-10 filled a spot on its staff by hiring a heavyweight in conference adminstration. There seems to be some winds of change blowing through Walnut Creek. You can find out more here. Not sure all the changes would be for the better.
• That's all for this morning. We'll be back with some basketball thoughts later. Until then ...