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WSU vs. UCLA, the pregame post

COUGARS

I have already been asked a handful of times if Washington State has a chance today without Reggie Moore and Klay Thompson. My answer to everyone is the same as the one I will pass on to you. Read on.


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• How about if WSU starts 6-foot walk-on guard Ben Loewen – it is Senior Day after all – and then has him jump center against 6-9 Anthony Stover? That might illustrate the hill the Cougars have to climb. Beating UCLA today, with the Bruins playing for the Pac-10 tourney's second seed, would have been a Herculean task with a full squad. Yes, it could have been done, especially the way WSU has played the last two games. The fire and energy is what Ken Bone has been asking for all season. But without Moore, who I've come to believe sets the tone for this group, and Thompson, who is just their best player, the task has become Sisyphean. They just don't want to get rolled over. … Oops, realized I haven't mentioned why the two are out, though all of you know. Moore sprained his ankle against USC and Thompson was suspended after a marijuana bust. OK, those of you under a rock the past couple days have been caught up. … Can the Cougars win today? Sure, this is sports, college sports, and you never know what will happen. But it's a tough task that will take near-perfect execution and a few breaks here and there. But there are other ways to win, though the scoreboard is the only arbiter the conference recognizes. However, if the group Washington State puts on the floor today plays all out, all game long, no matter the circumstances, then a certain type of victory is won. I know it won't matter to the standings or ever show in the record book, but it would mean something to the eight or nine guys who play, that's for sure. And if that effort happens to result in a chance to win down the stretch? Then it's even more meaningful. … There is another reason to play hard today. There is at least one recruit in town. … I just realized, the entire lower bowl was given the newspapers the students hold up during the opponent's introduction. Interesting. … You're probably wondering who will start today, aren't you? I know Faisal Aden will join Abe Lodwick, DeAngelo Casto and Marcus Capers, but even last night Bone didn't have an idea who the fifth starter would be. He's playing around with going big and starting Brock Motum. But he also may go with a guard, say Dre Winston Jr., Will DiIorio or even Loewen. We'll find out his decision in about 50 minutes.

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• That's all for now. We'll be back during the game on Twitter and here at halftime. Until then …


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