January 5, 2014 in Sports

Good, bad, ugly local basketball

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

WSU coach Ken Bone, right, didn’t have an answer for No. 1 Arizona on Thursday.
(Full-size photo)

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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Friday: WSU is dealing with injury problems – and had to face the No. 1 team in the nation on its home court.

The results were not pretty. Ugly is probably a better word.

Without leading scorer DaVonté Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew, both missing due to injury, the Cougars looked lost on offense.

Now, a part of that is Arizona. The Wildcats play the Bennetts’ Pack defense, and they do it with athletes Dick and Tony only dreamed about having in their WSU days.

The biggest part of Thursday night’s debacle is the Cougars’ lack of firepower. Without Lacy, their most offensively skilled players are their youngest. The upperclassmen are all limited in some way, whether it be in quickness, shooting ability or the ability to get to the rim. Arizona is really good at exploiting weaknesses and the result was a 9-for-45 shooting night.

Only one Cougar, Junior Longrus, had more than one basket. Check the  box score for yourself if you don’t believe me.

The bottom line: The 60-25 defeat was one of the more embarrassing ones of Ken Bone’s Pullman tenure.

• Idaho opened WAC play with a home loss to Missouri-Kansas City. What did head coach Don Verlin think about the defeat? Don? You there?

Nope, he wasn’t. Verlin refused to talk after the game. This seems to be becoming a bit of an epidemic in the Palouse. I always thought one of the roles of a college coach was to teach young men how to deal with life and its problems. Yeah, I know. Old-fashioned.

Showing them the best way to deal with problems – yes, some coaches believe dealing with the media, answering their intrusive questions, explaining what happened, is a problem – is just to ignore them certainly doesn’t bode well when it comes to winning either.

You don’t want to answer questions? Ignore your postgame responsibilities.

Maybe that works on the court as well. Having troubles hitting free throws? Ignore it, don’t work on them, the problem will go away. Having trouble guarding folks? Don’t drill, don’t practice, just ignore it, it will work out. Wait, that doesn’t seem to be the answer.

Either does hiding after games.

• A few people, who I know are WSU fans due to their comment history, mentioned on social media how poor the Zags’ schedule was, as if that was the reason for their success.

I checked. Yes, Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule wasn’t as challenging as usual. That’s true. But according to a couple of reliable RPI sources (including the ones on ESPN’s site and Ken Pomeroy’s), it was considered tougher than Washington State’s – and of most of the Pac-12 schools. And Gonzaga had a better record than those schools.

Yes, the WCC isn’t as deep or as talented as the Cougars’ conference. A conference schedule is what it is, that’s not controllable. But a nonconference slate is put together each year. It can be as hard or as easy as you want it, for the most part. Year after year, Gonzaga plays as challenging a nonconference schedule as anyone on the West Coast.

Thursday: What one word can be used to describe the Pac-12’s bowl performance this season? Hubris.

Hubris, seemingly, was behind Washington State’s final-minutes meltdown against Colorado State, as coach Mike Leach fell back on the “that’s-the-way-we-do-it” mantra concerning the Cougars’ time management problems.

And hubris was in play during the second half of Stanford’s loss in the Rose Bowl.

Michigan State figured out how to beat Stanford at  its own game: power football. Play after play in the second half featured the Cardinal trying to ram the ball down the Spartans throat and running into, as some columnists called it,  a brick wall. But there was  no apology afterward from Stanford coach David Shaw.

Nope. This is who we are, he said, and  they beat us at it.

Really? You are a head coach of one of the premier college football teams in America, you are making millions of dollars a year and you have no Plan B? You can’t adjust? You can’t take what the defense is giving you?

It almost seems as if the Cardinal, seeing nine Spartans in the box on nearly every play, said our six or seven blockers can still overpower you. Hubris.


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