There will be one really interested spectator tonight in a sold-out Beasley Coliseum. Bill Moos, the newly named athletic director, will be introduced to the crowd at the first media time out. Expect a thunderous greeting, if only from Bobo Brayton. Actually, Moos will probably fire up the crowd as well as any cheerleader. Then maybe they’ll pass a John Deere hat. We have some basketball thoughts on the link, so read on.
• Speaking of athletic director news, a reader pointed out this story that outlines Jim Sterk’s pay in San Diego. It outlines what a new beginning cost Sterk. … The housing allowance is nice, though. … Back to hoops. Charlie Enquist practiced this week and is available for action tonight. The first thing you’ll notice is his short hair, courtesy of Abe Lodwick, team barber. … A couple of thoughts on tonight’s match ups include four words. The first two are transition defense. The last two are Quincy Pondexter. … If WSU takes care of the ball, it should have no trouble with the former. Usually, the Cougars’ spacing and balance is decent enough on shots, especially if the shot selection is good, that they have no trouble rotating back on defense. But when they turn the ball over – like any team – then there is always trouble defending the break. Speaking of turnovers, Venoy Overton was booed with extra fervor when he took the court. All week there was an emphasis on valuing the basketball, being focused each possession, making good decisions. We’ll see if it happens. … Pondexter will be the focus of the WSU defense, no matter whether its man or zone. All week the coaches preached knowing where Pondexter was, what he wanted to do, how to react. The goal is to keep him walled off and out of the key, which is the basic goal of the pack anyway, but it takes on greater importance with a guy like Pondexter, who can get 29 and 12 – hey, that’s what he had in Seattle. Nik Koprivica and Lodwick will be the first line of defense, certainly, but this is a team thing. … So what Washington team will show up tonight, and for that matter, which WSU group will be out there? Let’s take the Huskies first. They are no longer winless on the road – they handled Stanford 78-61 two nights after the Cougars blew the big lead in Northern California – but they are still 1-5 in Pac-10 play away from Hec Ed. At times they’ve played with little interest, but that shouldn’t be a problem tonight, what with more than 10,000 screaming Cougars verbally attacking their every move. More importantly, how many early fouls will be called? If the UW guards can’t do what they love to do, get in your face and arms and body and make it tough to move, than its defense won’t be as effective, which slows its offense as well. That’s happened more than once this year on the road. … Koprivica just came out on the court and acknowledged the students. … So which Cougar team will be on display? The group that played with such a lack of focus and energy in the second half at UW and throughout the recent UCLA game or the pack that roared out early in Hec Ed and fought on nearly every possession against USC a week ago? More than any one single element, that is the key to tonight’s outcome. … Unearthed this nugget in my pregame preparation. Klay Thompson has missed his last 16 attempts from the floor, dating back to the first half of the UCLA game. He’s gone 68 minutes, 23 seconds of game time without a field goal. … So Cal has clinched at least a share of the conference title - and the No. 1 seed in the Pac-10 tourney - with its win over Arizona State. They rest of the conference has once again been unpredictable. Oregon holds off UCLA - the Ducks are on a roll again, as two consecutive wins is a roll in this conference - and Arizona rallied to defeat Stanford, meaning the Cardinal and the Ducks each have 10 losses going into the last week. If USC can rally back against OSU, then there would be three teams with that many waiting on the outcome of this game.
• That’s all for now. We’ll be back at halftime with more. Until then …