Some thoughts from the Galen Center prior to the USC game, in which the Cougars will try to improve on their 3-3 Pac-10 record (and their 13-5 overall mark). I've noticed from comments that people believe they've found the game on TV. As far as I know, there is no TV broadcast at all. There are no announcers or cameras in the arena. As for other stuff, read on.
• Before we go any further, let me explain why there haven't been any posts the past couple days. As readers of this blog know, I was born and raised here. And my dad, who is 84, still lives in the same home. His health hasn't been the best lately, so I came down a day early and helped him with a doctor's appointment. Near the end of the evening, he suffered an illness that I really don't want to go into, other to say it will change his life dramatically. Anyhow, the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind that have kept me from communing with you. He kicked me out of his hospital room this evening – he's a sports fan, folks, and thinks his kid has a great job – mainly because he was tired of seeing my ugly face. Anyhow, with other family members now available, it seemed OK to take in tonight's game. ... How about that game? As for as I've been able to discern, there probably won't be a lineup change tonight. Maybe Bone was sending the team a message with his lineup talk, I don't know. But against a physical, aggressive team like USC, it might behoove the Cougars to stay with their usual group. After all, they are experienced playing with each other, having been through 16 starts together. ... So what kind of start – and finish – will they have? Unless they're prepared for the physical nature of a Kevin O'Neill-coached defense, neither might be very good. I asked Bone about that at Tuesday's press conference, about the ability most O'Neill groups have to take away their opposition's strength. He agreed that's something they can do at times. But he was also interested, he said, to see what USC thought WSU's strength really was. Most teams, of course, figure it's Klay Thompson and his 22.9 scoring average. I'm wondering if it's Reggie Moore's ability to get into the lane. We'll see in about an hour. ... One thing I'll miss about Tim Floyd no longer being USC's coach is waiting to see what type of junk defense the Trojans would play. A triangle-and-two? A box-and-one? A zone they hadn't used before? It was always fun. ... I'm going to leave you with one word: Patience. If you watched the ASU game, you know the biggest problem the Cougars had against the Devils' zone was they shot too quickly, falling prey to a match-up zone that makes you think there are openings, then making those mirages disappear. SC is different. The Trojans will try to get you to start your offense 30 feet from the basket, then make every cut, every ball-screen, every bounce, have to be executed under pressure. But there are times this season USC hasn't defended for 35 seconds. Take care of the ball, make them chase you for more than 20 seconds or so and you might get a good shot. Or you can beat the Trojans down the court 17 times and run them out of the building. Either way should work.
By the way, I wanted to share this note Jim Sterk sent to Cougar fans (at least the ones who give lots of money) concerning the Oregon finish. Here it is ...
Over the past three weeks I have been inundated with comments from alumni, donors, members of the Pullman community, and Cougars fans across the country regarding the officials' decision to issue a technical foul on our bench with point-three seconds remaining in the first overtime of the Dec. 31, 2009 men's basketball game vs. the University of Oregon. That came after one of our student-athletes made a basket to give the Cougars a two-point lead in a highly-contested game.
Following the game I asked the Pac-10 for an official review of the game officials interpretation at the end of the first overtime. I received a response from Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference, which stated: "I have now had a chance to review the matter along with our men's basketball officiating coordinator Bill McCabe, and head of men's basketball Dave Hirsch. We together reviewed the video replays and Bill has had several follow-up discussions with the officials who worked the game. In short, I have concluded that the playing rules were enforced correctly."
The conference stated the playing rules were enforced correctly at the end of the first overtime, determining that it remained a "live ball" situation and therefore we prevented continuous play. I then sent the Pac-10 a copy of the coaches' video from the contest, including views they were not provided from the original game telecast. The conference reviewed the second video and reaffirmed its initial review of the play.
At this point we have no other recourse but to abide by the conference’s interpretation and move forward. We appreciate the support of all Cougar fans and look forward to seeing the Cougar Nation pack Friel Court throughout the season.
• That's it for now. We'll be back with a quick halftime posts for you to use to comment, then again after the game. Until then ...