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Sun., Dec. 18, 2011, 3:52 p.m.

WSU set to face Western Oregon

COUGARS

If, as a fan, you are taking Western Oregon lightly, quickly take a look at Washington's score today. Then rethink your opinion. Read on.

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• OK, I understand South Dakota State is a Division I team, a member of the Summit Conference and 9-4 this season. So its 92-73 spanking of the Huskies in Seattle today, while an upset, isn't a killer. Losing to a Division II team would be, right? Well, ask Arizona, which opened the season with a 69-68 loss to Seattle Pacific, which, like Western Oregon, is a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Except maybe not as good, in that the Wolves are 9-1 overall – their one loss was to open the season at Chaminade, the original giant killer – lead the GNAC with a 2-0 record, tied with Western Washington on top the league. ... The Wolves feature a smart point guard in 6-foot-2 senior Blair Wheadon, who had 14 points and three assists in the Wolves' 77-60 win yesterday over Notre Dame de Namur, and 6-8 Kolton Nelson, a not-so-athletic-looking big man who can shoot the 3. He had 19 off the bench yesterday, hitting 8 of 10 shots. But the Wolves biggest strength I was told by a coach whose team lost to them earlier this season, is their team play. Western Oregon has five seniors in their top eight and that experience shows in how well they share the ball and run their offense. ... So if WSU expects today to be a walkover – and plays like it – then the Cougars could be in for a rude awakening. ... A couple of other things. There isn't going to be much of a crowd today, what with the students gone and a 4:35 start time on a Sunday. In fact, the lack of a crowd may make Western Oregon feel more at home than the Cougars. ... The three injured Cougars – Abe Lodwick, Mike Ladd and Faisal Aden – are all suited up and going through warmups. How much they'll play and the effect having them on the court will have on WSU remains to be seen.

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• That's it for now. We'll be back after the game with the link to our story. Game updates throughout on Twitter (@vinceg55) so follow us there. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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