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WSU's loss to Wichita State, the day after

COUGARS

Little did I know that when Liza Minnelli sang "I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps," she would be singing about me. On this trip to New York at least. The never-sleep part. So, though it's just 5 a.m. West Coast time, we have our morning-after post ready for you.

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• Washington State: Sitting courtside last night, I had a flashback. No, not like that. A basketball flashback. To the NCAA tournament, circa 2008. Just about three years ago, when Washington State played Notre Dame. The Cougars won that night in Denver 61-41, but it wasn't that close. WSU just dominated the Irish's offense, taking Luke Harangody and company out of everything they wanted to do. Crushed their will. It's what that WSU team did when it was playing at its best. And it's what Wichita State did last night. The Shockers' defense was so solid, so physical, so efficient, Washington State couldn't do anything. Not when the Cougars tried to run its usual offense, which consists of lots of ball screens and off-ball picks. Not when they tried to run their pressure-release offense, which consists of lots of fake ball screens and back cuts. Not when they finally tried to beat the Shockers one-on-one, which was the signal Wichita State had won. Because, against defenders that are solid, strong and quick – and Wichita's were all three – the Cougars aren't going to get a lot of good looks going one-on-one. Oh, Klay Thompson usually can, but, whether it was the foul trouble or the circumstances, or whatever, he wasn't his usual self last night. And Faisal Aden can wiggle free at times, especially when he's willing to be patient, drive the ball to the baseline and take that 10-foot fallaway, which is money. But otherwise, this isn't a team of consistent one-on-one offensive threats. The five together are better than the five attacking individually. And Wichita State knew that. But, more importantly, they had the bodies – and the will – to do something about it. ... The highlight of the night for WSU? It might have been when Marcus Capers sailed over from the weakside and blocked 7-footer Garrett Stutz's dunk attempt. Capers followed that up on the next possession with another flying-out-of-nowhere block. But neither play, coming with the Cougars trailing just 18-8, made a difference in the momentum, as they usually do. After the second one, the Shockers got two more offensive rebounds, with Stutz finishing off the possession with a putback. ... Another flashback. Early in Gonzaga's run of NCAA playoff appearances, the Zags were pounded out of the tournament by a Michigan State team that made them look like a high school team on the boards. The next season, GU's players were built quite a bit differently, with considerably more muscle and a tougher mentality. They were monsters on the glass. They learned a lesson against the Spartans and it carried over into the offseason and beyond. Seems as if the same thing should happen for the Cougars. ... Well, we have links. ... We had our story here last night and in the S-R this morning. ... We linked Steve Kelley's column in the Times last night as well. ... Jim Moore had this column in the P.I. ... And that's all we can link today.

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• Around the Pac-10: The CBI final series moves to Eugene, with the Ducks having to sweep two games at home, starting with tonight's matchup with Creighton, another Missouri Valley Conference school. ... UCLA's Malcolm Lee made it official. He will test the NBA draft waters, though the guard won't sign with an agent just yet. ... Arizona State is losing a player. ... Arizona won the close ones this season. ... The BCS is in trouble after what was revealed about the Fiesta Bowl yesterday. ... Finally, USA Today has an A1 story today on paying college athletes.

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• That's it for this morning. We are starting the long journey home, so we might be off the blog tomorrow morning. It's time to get back to the Inland Northwest and the friendly confines of Rogers Field and spring football. 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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