We're going to have two posts this morning. This one, concerned with tonight's basketball game with Oregon and containing links to the same. The next one, which we will post soon, will contain links to the stories concerning Eastern Washington's NCAA sanctions and how that relates to WSU coach Paul Wulff. It will also have Wulff's comments from last night's late conference call. Read on.
• If Washington State wants to play in the postseason next month, the Cougars have to win tonight. And Saturday night. "It's unbelievable huge," Taylor Rochestie said of this weekend. "We know how hard it is to go down to Southern California, we know how hard it is for any games. We haven't been playing too well at home and it's important for us now to get every single win we can get and keep fighting." WSU's fight to get into the postseason was the subject of my story in this morning's S-R. You can also read a longer version here, with some thoughts from athletic director Jim Sterk. ... Freelancer Howie Stalwick had this advance in the News Tribune and P-I among other papers. ... You don't want to foul Tajuan Porter – or Rochestie for that matter. ... Miss class at Oregon and you'll find yourself rolling in it.
• That's it for links, but as a web-only bonus, here are some more Tony Bennett thoughts on the postseason. As you'll see, Bennett is more focused on the process (playing well) then the outcome (the postseason). Seems like the right attitude to me.
• Bennett on what the Cougars must avoid: "But I think if you focus on that right now, 'we've got to get to postseason play,' I think that would be a mistake. I think it's premature for us. We know we have to play well. You know your record, you know what's at stake. That stuff goes without saying."
• On the results this season: "We played well against Cal, we talked about that, we played one of our better games as a matter of fact, but it wasn't enough. That part is discouraging because … I feel our theme this year could be close but not quite. That works in hand grenades and horseshoes. ... Maybe we have to make T-shirts with that (saying) on them with a cross going through it."
• On the importance of extra practices in the postseason: "I think it's a different than football. Maybe I'm the minority on that. By that time of the year everybody is sick of each other, quite honestly, whether it's going good or it's not going good. It's maybe three or four more practices, it's a week or perhaps two weeks. It's not like it's a month, unless you're going to make a run to the national championship. Your practices really taper down that time of year."
• On why it's important to keep playing: "Nonconference to conference play is different. Conference play to Pac-10 tournament play is different. Pac-10 tournament play to NCAA tournament play is completely different. So the practice part for the young kids, that isn't the main thing. It's more just a chance to taste postseason play. It was big for us just when it was eight teams only in the Pac-10 tournament to get in there. Whatever experience you can get, especially for these new kids. And then, for the seniors, you'd love to see them go out on a positive note for what they've done for this program."
• That's it concerning basketball this morning. We will be back soon with more on Wulff and the NCAA. Till then …