The hope might not be dead, but Washington State sure made it lot harder on itself the last week to make the NCAA tournament. There are possible scenarios, sure, but all of them include playing with a lot more fire than the Cougars showed in the first half tonight. As Marcus Capers said afterward, you can't win in the Pac-10, heck you can't win anywhere in college, playing with the effort the Cougars displayed early Thursday night. For more, read on.
• I asked before the game which WSU team would show up. The Oregon version did. Then the UW version played the first 12 minutes or so of the second half. It wasn't enough. … Bone said after the Washington game, with the energetic crowd, the raucous atmosphere, the buzz in the building, he mentioned to his assistants he was concerned about the Stanford game, “on a Thursday night with the facility half full and not with the same atmosphere. It was a concern. It's our fault. It doesn't matter whose here. You've got to bring it, you've got to play hard. Doesn't matter if it's 10,000 or 10 people here.” It was a concern that proved to be true. “I thought we came out kind of flat and Stanford took advantage of it. And they did a great job.” It's a chicken/egg question, isn't it? Is the place quiet because the Cougars aren't playing well, or are the Cougars not playing well because the place is quiet? Whatever the answer – and I lean toward the former – WSU let the Cardinal take control of the game early with the first eight points. “We still got to play with energy, you know,” Capers said. “If I was in the crowd I don't think I would have been 'let's go,' because, from what coach said off film we looked dead. You can't come out dead and expect to beat any Pac-10 team. Matter of fact, you can't play in college, at this level, and come out dead and expect to beat anybody. Especially (at home), because that's all (the away team) needs is a little jump. If the crowd's dead and we're lackadaisical, of course they're going to have the upper hand.” … Stanford's Jeremy Green knew why the Cardinal had the upper hand early against WSU's zone. “We watched a lot of film,” he said. “We saw our mistakes, what we couldn't do, what we could have done better against their zone. It just came down to movement, you know, movement from the guard, movement from the post players, getting the ball down inside, an inside-out attack. We was able to get wide-open shots. We all were able to knock them down tonight.” And that's the key. As Bone said, Stanford executed offensively and made shots. If a few of the early ones missed, the game is different. But they didn't. Mainly because they were mostly uncontested. Lack of energy may lead to lack of execution on the offensive end, but that can be made up. On the defensive end, lack of energy can't be overcome. Good shots will be the result – and that leads to 45-26 deficits. … You can read my game story here, and Bud Wither's column from the game.
• That's all for now. We'll be back in the morning with links. Until then …