I’m trying my hardest to stay away from the Tiger Woods statement, joining my brethren in boycotting the made-for-TV event (and wondering why Oprah is not hosting it). But, like the wreck on the interstate, I’m having trouble avoiding rubbernecking, so I might sneak a peek (UPDATE: I did not). The best way to keep my mind off it, I figure, is to keep typing, putting together your much-anticipated day-after post. So read on. From here on out, it’s a Tiger-free zone.
• Washington State: I really don’t have a lot to say about last night’s game. In the first few minutes, when both teams were shooting the lights out, going up and down draining good looks, it looked as if the Cougars had a decent shot at finally beating the Bruins at home. But once again it was just a mirage. The 14-14 tie (with 13 minutes, 32 seconds left following Reggie Moore’s steal and dunk) was built not on good solid defense, but UCLA mistakes on one end and great shooting on the other. When both stopped suddenly, WSU couldn’t fall back on its defense. It wasn’t playing any. … Let’s see, what was missing? As coach Ken Bone said, energy. But it seemed to come from a lack of urgency. Each possession in a basketball game is a separate entity, like an inning in baseball. And to be successful on the defensive end, each possession must receive five players’ full concentration until the ball is regained. As DeAngelo Casto pointed out – without naming anyone – not every player has shown a desire to do that consistently. Thursday night, against a well-coached Bruin team that is adept at attacking your weaknesses and mistakes, it was more pronounced. … Funny, even when a group was on the court playing hard, they seemed to get undone by miscommunication – I saw two WSU defenders collide more than once, effectively setting a better screen than an offensive player could – or a lack of athleticism. … That’s about it. All our other observations are covered in the long-version of our story. … John Blanchette had his observations as well, and his column was spot-on. … Freelancer Howie Stalwick posted this piece in the News Tribune and other papers. … From the Los Angeles area, old friend Chris Foster had his story and this gamer was in the Orange County Register.
• The quotebook …
• Coach Ken Bone on what the team talked about for 30 minutes after the game: “(It was) straight and to the point. And gave some kids a chance to say what they thought of tonight’s game. … Most of them said a few things and most of them said what I’m saying now. We didn’t play very tough, we didn’t play with the type of energy we need to.”
• Casto on the way the Cougars played: “At any given point it comes down to heart and passion. You have to have heart to play this game. You have to care about the game. You have to care about your teammates, you have to care about the fans, you have to care about what’s going on every single play.”
• Bone on the effort: “Very poor performance, just a whole lack of energy which really, really surprised me.” He went on to talk about how much energy they displayed on the road and how he expected the same Thursday, but it didn’t happen. “I keep going to back to the lack of energy, right from the beginning, the first possession. … It was a low-energy output tonight. You just can’t win Pac-10 games when you play that lethargic.”
• Bone on what can be done: “Maybe it’s me. Maybe I haven’t gotten in their face more and challenged them. But, again, I didn’t coach any different tonight than I did last week.”
• Bone on UCLA: “They do a good job of attacking. They do a good job screening and getting guys open off of screens. Then their shooters, they’ve got good length. … We just don’t seem to match up very well with them.”
• UCLA coach Ben Howland on his team’s defense: “We played well against them last time. It was the first time that weekend we committed to (the zone).”
• Howland on his offense: “Our offense was better because we were very, very patient. … We did a great job (on slowing the game down) because we were really trying to shorten the game.”
• Howland on WSU and its play: “I watched them on tape last night against Arizona and I was really, really impressed with them. … This was an aberration today. I hope we don’t play them in the tournament.”
• Around the Pac-10: What a shock. There were shockers in the conference last night. Wow. We’re amazed. … Oregon State “upset” league-leading Cal – OK, 80-64 is pretty amazing. The Beavers are getting better play from their freshmen –senior Roeland Schaftenaar had a pretty darn good game too – and it’s paying off. … The Bears can’t seem to figure out how to attack Oregon State. … At least the Ducks are consistent. They lost, at home, again, this time 72-65 to Stanford. … That outcome caused coach Ernie Kent to speak out afterward, defending the program. … It didn’t seem to work, because columnist George Schroeder of the Register-Guard called for a change this morning. … The Huskies lost only their second home game, but the 67-64 defeat to USC really hurt.
• That’s all for this morning. We’ll be back later in the day with more. Until then …