FROM PULLMAN — After such a big win, it's only right that we empty out the rest of our notebook, as well as provide you with the usual dose of daily links. Read on for a whole bunch of words and some video.
First, we have our game story, as well as our capsulated recap. Freelancer extraordinaire Howie Stalwick filed this story, and the AP has a recap here. … Freelancer extraordinaire Ryan Collingwood has been working real hard this weekend, and he covered the game for the San Jose Mercury News. You can read his story from the California perspective here. … Here are the game stats. … I shot some video of Mike Leach's comments to the crowd at halftime, and you can check that out here. …
Around the Pac-12: It was a rough weekend for Stanford, as the Cardinal fell 76-63 to Washington, which was sparked by the basketball debut of Austin-Seferian Jenkins. … How bad is Arizona State? Bad enough to lose to Utah by 21 points, even after the Utes dismissed their leading scorer earlier this week. … Oregon handed UCLA another road loss, topping the Bruins 75-68 with a big second half. … Colorado defended its home court once again, edging Arizona 64-63 after Kevin Parrom missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. If only they'd had DaVonte Lacy. … USC has emerged as the clear-cut favorite to finish in last place, falling 78-59 at Oregon State — which, by the way, was the last team to go 0-18 in conference play. It's time to start wondering if maybe the Trojans are capable of a similar feat this season.
Some additional thoughts on WSU's win …
— Faisal Aden is going to get a lot of recognition for the points he scored, but it's more important to note the way that he scored them. On Saturday, he didn't even attempt a 3-pointer. In fact, he hasn't made one since 12 minutes remained in regulation against Utah. That was 17 days ago. If anything that statistic proves that Aden is simply a better basketball player when he's trying to attack the rim. He's quick enough off the dribble to get into the paint consistently, he's a good free throw shooter, and he might be the best finisher on the team. He made nine of 12 field goal attempts on Saturday, and 10-17 on Thursday — plus 6-8 in the second half, meaning he's made 15 of his last 20 shots. That's 75 percent. And it's no coincidence that every single one of them came from inside the arc.
Ken Bone joked that “most coaches would start him” after today's game. I asked him if Aden is getting any closer to making that happen.
“My philosophy is, you’ve got to fit into the whole system of what we’re doing, not just who scores the most points starts,” Bone said. “But, he scored a lot of points, he helped us win both games, he also did a lot of other good things for us. Unfortunately, he had five turnovers and no assists, but he did have a really good game and he’s done a good job.”
Will this be the weekend that marks the beginning of a new and improved Faisal Aden? We'll see. But at the very least expect him to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week come Monday.
— Cal coach Mike Montgomery mentioned after the game that when WSU went with a smaller lineup in the second half, the Bears had trouble defending them because they were able to spread the floor more. It's true. The Cougars went small and started Abe Lodwick instead of Charlie Enquist in the second half, and Lodwick came up with a couple of important 3-pointers that helped WSU sustain Cal's mini-run. Lodwick says he's been putting up extra shots lately. He also made a big play on Thursday, deflecting a rebound away from a Stanford player to allow Reggie Moore to corral it and find Lacy for a big 3-pointer.
— The Bears came up with a big offensive rebound with the score tied 74-74 and just over a minute left in the game. Justin Cobbs tried to slash back into the lane and dish a pass off near the rim, but Marcus Capers stole the ball and thwarted what could have been an easy look.
That was something the Bears hurt the Cougars with all game.
“We were looking at that from about maybe the eight minute mark of the first half, from that point on I think we talked about it every single time that we had a chance, that Cal is just slicing us up and we’ve got to shift, we’ve got to shut down the middle,” Bone said. “But Cal’s really good, they execute some things and if you take one thing away, you give up something else. So what we were taking away, we ended up giving up the middle quite a bit, and when you do that against a good team, they score. And Cal, there are a few times it looked like it was men amongst boys. And they really sliced us up for some easy baskets. So I am glad on that one possession we did get a stop.”
— Reggie Moore was held scoreless for just the second time in his career, though he did have seven assists (and four turnovers). But he made the play he needed to — finding Lacy in the corner for the game-winning 3-pointer.
Asked if he'd believe his team could win with its starting point guard scoring zero points, Bone replied: “I’d say it’s possible because Reggie embraces his role as a point guard. He looks for shots, but if he’s not hitting shots or he doesn’t feel comfortable getting good shots off, he’ll defer and get other guys the ball. In most cases, last year and the year before I wouldn’t have said that, but this year I think Reggie is mature in that fashion and really understands how to win the game as a team and if he doesn’t have it going then he delivers it.”
— Lots of talk afterward about the resiliency this team showed coming off the Washington loss. Bone said that last season, that kind of loss may have stuck with them longer, but that this team has shown the kind of leadership andmaturity to put tough losses behind them. This weekend was evidence of that.
“I think a couple years ago or even last year, it might have affected us more. I think that’s where you need good leadership. I think our kids have done a nice job of putting that game behind us, even though it’s a big game, we went in, we battled them, we played some good minutes, they took it to us at the end. I think we turned the page, we came back and we knew what was ahead of us with the two best teams coming in. We had some good practices, and I thought during the course of the week leading up to these two games, I felt like we really came together as a group, and that, look, we’re not throwing in the towel, we’re 1-4, but here’s our chance. We’re playing at home, and it had been a while. So I think our guys were excited to play in front of family, friends, students, get back in our arena and see what we can do and forutnetly it worked out.”
Brock Motum pointed to the Gonzaga game as the origin of WSU's willingness to continue battling when things aren't going their way.
“I think that’s been sort of the trait of our team since the first game against Gonzaga,” Motum said. “We got down pretty big there, and we were able to come back and cut it pretty close. I don’t know, we come together. Some teams are front runners. Some teams, when the adversity strikes, everyone comes together. I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that, just coming together as a team, executing what we need to, no one doing their own stuff, everyone does what they need to do to get a team win.”
— Speaking of Gonzaga, Bone said that game also showed that Lacy was ready to take — and make — big-time shots.
“We’ve seen DaVonte hit some big threes,” Bone said. “His first college game of his career at Gonzaga, ESPN, tight game and I think he buried two or three 3s in the last few minutes, and it didn’t surprise me at all and I don’t think it surprised our team that he hit that shot.”
— Motum scored 15 points, but Bone would like him to shoot the ball more than seven times, as he did Saturday.
“Well, we talk about that all the time, we talked about it at halftime, we talked about it midway through the half, we talk about it before the game, we talked about it during practice. We want Brock to get touches because we do think he’s a good scorer. And then tonight he only got seven shots. Part of that is due to California’s defense. They’re a very, very good and physical defensive team and there were times that Brock struggled not only getting the ball, but once he did, getting a shot off because of Cal’s superior defense.”
— Enquist might not have seen the floor in the second half, but he did contribute.
Here's DaVonte Lacy: “I think the score was 62-62 at one point, and I missed a big three, and when I came back on the bench, Charlie Enquist said, 'Just make the next one, make the next one.'” And when I went back in I said this is my time and the ball came and I just shot it. I’m not going to be scared to shoot so I just shot it.”
— Bone said the Cougs will have until Monday to enjoy this one before they begin preparations for their trip to Arizona on Thursday.
Bone: “I’m pretty old school, and it’s just, hey, those games are over, it was great, enjoy it tonight, but — well I guess they can enjoy it tomorrow, too, because we don’t have practice. We need to start thinking about Arizona, Arizona State. You can’t live off of two wins.”
And finally, here's some video of the game's highlights, courtesy of Jared Prenguber and the WSU athletic department.