It's really not all that early, but this post is a lot earlier than I planned. Plans, as you know, have a way of getting coldcocked by reality. And the reality of this morning is the guy in the apartment upstairs decided to vacuum at 7:30 in the morning. Really dude? So we're up. And so is our morning after post. Read on.
• Washington State: The Cougars moved into the NIT quarterfinals (the bracket is here) for the first time since 1995, when they lost at Canisius. But this time they'll be home, though the turnaround time between last night's 74-64 win over Oklahoma State and tomorrow night's game with Northwestern isn't all that long. The Wildcats, who played Saturday at Boston College, will spend today traveling to Pullman, so their road isn't easy either. … We had this game story from the late-night contest in the S-R this morning. … CougCenter does its usual post-game summary. One thing to point out. Abe Lodwick led WSU with seven rebounds, one of four Cougars with five or more. Klay Thompson was next with six. WSU out-rebounded OSU 37-33. … Switching gears, the Cougar football team returns to spring practice today and we'll be there. … Back to hoops – just threw that football note in there to see if you were awake – now, with some more thoughts on last night. … We have some of Ken Bone, Abe Lodwick and Klay Thompson's thoughts below, but we wanted to chip in our two bits. … Bone talked about how well the Cougars are playing right now, with Thompson adding they are playing their best at just the right time. Looking at the two NIT games – wins over Long Beach State and Oklahoma State – and how the Cougars got them done, it sure seems as if they are right. Washington State won each in different ways. Against the Beach, the Cougars built a big early lead and held on. They shared the ball, got a big lift from Faisal Aden off the bench and went inside to DeAngelo Casto when they needed hoops. And Klay Thompson played a solid all-around game. Last night the Cougars had to claw throughout. Sure, they built a big early lead but it didn't last for more than a couple minutes. After that, it was a physical test until late in the second half. They really didn't share the ball until late, but that was more of what OSU was giving them than their own failures. They tried, but much of the offense came after getting separation off the bounce. Aden just didn't have it offensively – he did, however, play another solid game on the defensive end, something he's improved on late in the season – but Brock Motum filled the gap with his assortment of outside shots and inside moves. With Casto struggling due to fouls, Charlie Enquist supplied a lift with five active minutes. And Klay Thompson played a solid all-around game. The different recipes baked the same thing. A win. Which is why Bone was able to compliment his team afterward. “That's a sign of a good team,” Bone said. “I'm excited because I feel like we're playing our best basketball at the very end of the year. Not all teams can say that. But that's what you want to achieve. You work four, five, six months. We (started in) late August and here it is, mid-March and we're still at it. … I'm pleased these guys have bought in to what we're trying to do.”
• Here are Bone's comments …
• And comments from Lodwick and Thompson, all courtesy of WSU's athletic video department …
• Around the Pac-10: Believe it or not, there are two other conference basketball teams still playing. One is Arizona, which is looking at a Sweet Sixteen matchup with defending champion Duke on Thursday. The Wildcats got past Texas thanks to a supporting cast that stepped up when it was needed. Seems to be the right formula this time of year. … The other school still bouncing it is Oregon, which got to the CBI semifinals with last night's 77-75 home win over Duquesne. The Ducks will host Boise State on Wednesday night. … The Huskies' season is over, but not the analysis, opinion or the thoughts about next year.
• That's what we've got for this morning. We'll be back this evening with our football report and a basketball advance. Until then …