There is a cloud of smoke descending on my computer as I write this. I know that opens up a lot of jokes, but we will refrain and hope you do too. It's for the pregame activities, I'm sure, but it is a bit disconcerting. Read on.
• Other, smarter people than me put together the Pepperdine/Mike Leach connection long before I did, but it is a bit odd Washington State is playing the Waves in the game Leach will be introduced to the Seattle faithful. To whit, he received his law degree from Pepperdine's law school, so he has a connection to the school. Of course, the Cougars open the football season next fall in Provo at Leach's real alma mater, Brigham Young. Odd confluences. ... Let's talk basketball. The Cougars will be playing their final nonconference game tonight and, thanks to the preseason injuries, are still trying to determine their top-eight rotation. Let's look at the candidates. At guard, you know Reggie Moore, DaVonté Lacy and Marcus Capers are going to be in that rotation. Inside, Brock Motum, Charlie Enquist and Abe Lodwick are going to see most of the time. So that leaves two spots. Who will fill them? Out front Faisal Aden is healthy again, but if he doesn't play the way Ken Bone demands, he shouldn't play that much more than Mike Ladd or Dexter Kernich-Drew, who showed he can defend and shoot when given the chance. Inside, D.J. Shelton will have to play, if only to give Motum and Enquist a rest and absorb a few fouls. Then there is Patrick Simon and Will DiIrio, two sophomores who do totally different things but have skills that may be needed at some point in conference play. From that group, pick eight that get the majority of time. ... There are some curtains hanging in the upper deck, so there is no way there will be a huge crowd tonight. I'm interested in seeing how many people show up.
• That's it for now. We'll be back about 90 minutes after the game ends with links and notes. Until then ...