It's game day on the Palouse. Whether that's a Saturday in the fall or a Thursday in the winter, it's different. Anticipation does something to our systems, doesn't it? Tonight Washington State's opponent is Stanford, Saturday it's California. We have some information on both, so read on.
• Washington State: Last Thursday the Cougars showed up at Matthew Knight Arena but really didn't. For most of the game someone else wore their jerseys. If anything similar happens tonight against the Cardinal, the most shocked guy in the building will probably be coach Ken Bone. But I won't be far behind. I've told anyone who asks this team is the hardest for me to figure in my journalism career. When questioned how WSU will play on any given night, my answer is always the same: I have no idea. With that as background take the next sentence at face value. The Cougars had the best back-to-back practices all season. Competitive and intense. Focused and hard-working. For two days WSU went at it, learning the scout, working on its own game plan, improving. From Klay Thompson to Chris McNamara, everyone was alert, into it and, at the same time, loose. So will that translate into a well-played game tonight? As I've said all season, I have no idea. ... Maybe Wednesday's effort was sparked by an appearance from Kyle Weaver, back in Pullman while rehabbing a leg injury. Weaver showed up while the Cougars were in film and took in the rest of practice. He huddled with assistant coach Ben Johnson afterward (both have leg injuries to work on), one of the few people in the gym who was actually around when Weaver was playing in Pullman. ... Last week against Oregon State, the Cougars don't win without the efforts of Reggie Moore, DeAngelo Casto and the others who received a bunch of deserved ink (for more on Moore – I love typing those three words in a row – check out this piece at CougCenter). But they also don't survive without the short, active stint of Will DiIorio and the calm, hold-the-fort performance of Patrick Simon. Though the freshmen on this team, including guard Dre' Winston Jr., aren't flashy and haven't put up big numbers, their performances have helped WSU through tough spots this season. Thus, this story. ... Our quick look at the weekend. ... That's it for basketball, but Ted Miller has this rewind of WSU's season and his high/low predictions. ...
• Around the Pac-10: As big as the visits from Stanford and Cal are for the Cougars, they are just as big – though reversed – for Washington, at least according to coach Lorenzo Romar. ... The Huskies have struggled recently replacing Abdul Gaddy at the point. ... Would love to be in Pauley Pavilion tonight for the Pac-10's version of UFC 2, the rematch between Reeves Nelson, scoreless in Eugene, and E.J. Singler, who Reeves called out after the first matchup. The Ducks and the Bruins are playing as well as anyone in the conference right now not in Tucson. ... The Beavers are on the opposite end of the spectrum and they need a lot to happen right this weekend in Los Angeles. The Trojans are actually playing much better than most probation-saddled teams have played in the recent past, as this story details. ... Arizona and ASU – the top and bottom of the conference – don't meet until Sunday in Tempe, when MoMo Jones confident attitude will be on display again. As Hans Solo said, "don't get cocky." ... One last item. Cal's misguided attempt to balance the athletic books on the backs of lower-profile sports has another consequence the administrators didn't point out too diligently last year.
• That's all for this morning. Sorry I didn't get back with you last night but I had troubles with the Net until after 10, and by then it was too late. (At least for me. I like to be asleep by then and will be tonight, game or no. You'll be able to tell when you read my game story I slept through it.) We'll be back later this afternoon with our pregame post from Beasley, part of our usual coverage. No TV (webstream yes, TV no) tonight, so follow along at vinceg55 on Twitter. Until then ...