When I awoke this morning, the first thing I did was check my hearing. See, after the game last night my ears weren’t working all that well. For the first time this season, Beasley Coliseum was so loud it made my ears – and head – hurt. And yet, all that noise, all that energy, all that excitement, it wasn’t enough. The Cougars couldn’t overcome a first half filled with missed shots, little or no transition defense and a UW team that was hitting on all but one cylinder – the one, you ask? Turnovers, which kept the Huskies from having an even bigger lead than the 14-point one they enjoyed. We have more on the link, so read on.
• Washington State: We’ll start with links this morning. … Here’s our report we filed after the game. … Don Ruiz had his game story in the News Tribune. … Freelancer Howie Stalwick supported that with this sidebar. … Percy Allen of the Times had this gamer. … The most interesting aspect of this WSU team, an aspect that reminds me of the Cougars from Dick Bennett’s final year, is how it can play such great basketball so easily – see the first 10, 11 minutes of the second half – and play such crappy basketball just as easily – see the first half, in which WSU not only couldn’t put the ball in the hoop, the Cougars seemed disinterested in stopping the Huskies from doing the same. The down-and-up nature of this group is easy to identify. But fixing it? In only two games this season, the second USC and Arizona games, have the Cougars turned in a close-to-40-minute effort. Of course they won both of those. So wouldn’t you think they would figure it out? Follow the game plan, play your heart out, and success will result. When that lesson sinks in – will it the next two weeks? – then this group will have reached its potential. … Some other thoughts, box-score related. … Every time Klay Thompson lined up an outside shot, and he launched seven 3-pointers, the crowd seemed to hold its breath. And when he made one? The place was as loud as it’s ever been. Despite a few loud negative voices, the Cougar faithful still believes in Thompson and wants him to succeed. … Reggie Moore struggled even more than Thompson from the floor, going 1 of 8, though many of his were attempts to finish at the rim. That was pretty tough Saturday night, as a lot of contact was allowed. In fact, the first time Nik Koprivica touched the ball, he got a half-step on Quincy Pondexter and tried to bounce it to the rim. The UW senior put out both hands and grabbed, slowing down Koprivica considerably. That, by rule, is a foul. But it wasn’t called. I made a note on my pad. The tone was set. Both teams were allowed to grab, push, whack, elbow, shoulder, pull, whatever they wanted, with only the most egregious examples earning a whistle – though Marcus Capers being pulled down from behind on the late rebound may have been the most egregious, but it wasn’t called. … After being dominated on the boards early – a part of that was all WSU’s missed shots – the Cougars bounced back and actually pulled within one – 31-30 – in the rebound totals with 7 minutes left. From there, though, UW had an 11-4 edge on the glass.
• Around the Pac-10: Cal earned its first conference title since Truman was president, riding its seniors to a 62-46 pasting of Arizona State. … The Sun Devils know they’re a longshot to gain a share of the title now. … Next up for the Cougars: Oregon State, which found a way to win in the Galen Center. … The Trojan offense disappeared again in the 49-44 defeat. … Oregon also won 70-68 in Los Angeles, pulling into a tie with WSU for ninth in the conference. The Cougars and UO could meet Saturday night in Eugene, then turn around four days later and face off in the Pac-10 tourney’s first round. … Once again, UCLA turns on itself late. … Arizona rallies past Stanford late on Mo Mo Jones’ basket. … The Cardinal helped, missing key free throws down the stretch in the 71-69 decision. … And the day’s most interesting story: A long examination of what’s going on in Eugene. It’s worth reading.
• That’s all for now. We intend to be back later this evening with some more thoughts from the game and a look forward to the final week of Pac-10 regular season play. Until then …