FROM PULLMAN — The Cougars have a chance to climb back above .500 today against Arizona State, as well as a shot to avenge one of their poorer performances of the season. That and more after the jump.
We have a very brief game preview here, which focuses on WSU's good-but-not-good-enough performances against Pac-12 competition the second time around. They beat Oregon State, of course, and played much better in that game than they did in an 81-76 win earlier in the season. And while losses to Oregon and Arizona were far more competitive than games against those teams the first time around, they were still losses. That was something coach Ken Bone kept coming back to as we spoke yesterday before practice. He said he hopes his players understand that they are improving, that they're doing a lot more things right than they were maybe a month ago. But that at the end of the day, he wants them to be rewarded for their attitude and effort with some wins. Just as I wrote Thursday night that I thought the Cougars would compete against Arizona, I think they'll come out with a similar focus against a Sun Devils team that surprised them in the desert three weeks ago. … Doug Haller writes about ASU guard Chanse Creekmur's shooting slump. … Interesting story about ASU's struggles to maintain a solid basketball program. … Here's a story on the Cougars from FoxSportsWest.com. … Vince passed this along yesterday, but wanted to note here that Mike Leach's wrongful termination suit appeal was denied in the Texas Supreme Court yesterday. Brian Floyd of CougCenter does a nice job breaking down exactly what this means. The gist? Leach isn't going to get any money from Tech, but he can still fight in the courts to clear his name. … Also at CougCenter, Jeff Nusser uses a whole bunch of numbers and graphs and colors to make his argument for Brock Motum as Pac-12 Player of the Year, which prompted our poll question. It often comes down to a coach's voting philosophy — either you think the POY should be awarded to the best player on the best team — or one of the best teams — or you think it should be more objective, going to a player who, regardless of his team's record, jumps off the page as being the best player in the conference. To me, it's somewhere in between. Can a player truly be the best in the conference if his team isn't in competition for the league title? Then again, in this year's Pac-12, is there really anyone on any of the top teams you'd be comfortable handing this award to? Anyway, just something to consider. Motum has certainly made a nice case for himself. … The Cougar baseball opened its season on Friday with a 6-2 loss at Mississippi State.
As for today's Pac-12 action …
Arizona State at Washington State, 5 p.m. (FSN/Root)
Arizona at Washington, noon (FSN): It's the final home game for two UW seniors, who played non-starring roles for the Huskies. These teams have played some tight games the last three times they've met.
Colorado at Utah, 2 p.m. (FSN): The Buffaloes still have a shot at the conference title despite being picked by the media to tie for 10th. Colorado is trying to avoid a letdown against a bad Utah team.
Here's a story on Chasson Randle, and the path he took to wind up at Stanford. … Oregon is worrying about what it can control when it meets the Cardinal on Sunday (4:30 p.m., Root). … Want to get excited? Take a look at how close some Pac-12 teams are to starting spring football practices.
All for now. We'll be back before the game.