Well, it's Cougar Day. And we had to go to the source on the Cougs, CougCenter. They are passionate about Wazzu sports and were happy to answer some of our questions. What should we expect tonight when the Cal Golden Bears take on their beloved Cougs? Just how good is Klay Thompson? And what's up with their new coach?
Cal has looked decently good this year and has a chance to win the Pac10. They'll need a good showing on the road, always tough in the Pac10. WSU has a lot of talent, but also has had some rough losses, including getting shellacked by ASU recently. However, before you get overconfident, WSU has always played Cal close and should be a formidable opponent tonight. I think I've written enough vague platitudes to fill out an "intro." So, vote in the poll and check out the answers after the fold. GO BEARS!
1. Firstly, it amuses us that your coaches name is Ken Bone. I know there was a lot of anger over your last coach, He Who Should Not Be Named, leaving. How is The Boner doing these days?
You are right that a lot of anger and venom was spewed in the wake of our former coach ditching us for Virginia, but we couldn't be happier with Ken Bone. He's honestly been everything we could have hoped for and more.
For starters, he's responsible for bringing us our point guard, Reggie Moore, who was a late signing last year after Bone was hired. For all the pub Klay Thompson gets, as the season moves along, Moore is becoming almost just as important to the offense, if not more so. He's exceptional at penetration -- stop giggling ... no really, stop! -- and is great at either drawing a foul, finishing at the rim, or dishing it off. It's going to be fun watching Jerome Randle, who doesn't foul a lot, try to keep Moore in front of him. If he had done nothing up to this point except for that, he'd still be considered a smashing success. Moore is that good.
However, he has done more than that -- a lot more. He's done an exceptional job managing what is an astoundingly young team, keeping them as focused as can be reasonably expected. The nonconference was filled with lightweights, but to guide the team through without losing to any of them is a testament to him. He's also proved to be an incredibly adept game strategist, which really was his calling card at previous jobs. He hasn't disappointed.
To be honest, we couldn't be happier.
2. Fill-in-the-blank: Klay Thompson is the greatest Cougar basketball player who can ever ______________.
father my future children. Seriously. If I could be guaranteed that they would come out of the womb with that shooting stroke, I might honestly approach my wife with an indecent proposal.
3. Hoopswise, who would you really like to punch in the face right now?
The referees from the Oregon game, Ernie Kent, and every Oregon fan I meet -- in that order.
First, the referees for being total bumbling idiots in not even really knowing their own rulebook, then lying about the actual circumstances after the game to make it look like they called it correctly. Next, Kent because he actually had the audacity to suggest that Oregon earned that game, and that the referees called it as they should have. And Oregon fans because they seriously think we're being whiners by continuing to point out how the referees screwed it up. They also like to try and say that it's just fair because we had so many more free throws than they did (more on that later), which makes me want to punch them twice and then kick them in the kneecap.
In a race like this, every win counts, and that one was flat stolen from us. I'm on the record on our podcast this week as saying that the only way I'll fully get over it is if we sweep Cal and Stanford this weekend. But even then I probably won't.
4. What happened against ASU there?
Remember that youth thing, you know, that we were saying surprisingly hasn't been a problem? Yeah, it reared its head in that game. Two starters and another key bench player were late for "team events" and found themselves on the bench through most of the first half. We don't have the kind of depth you really need to be able to send a message like that and still compete, even in this watered-down Pac-10. The rotation got all screwed up, the offense never found a rhythm, and when ASU started to roll, there was no way to stop the bleeding.
In a way, it probably was a good thing. They looked like they might have been getting a little too big for their britches, thinking they can just show up and win. The hope on our end is that it came at just the right time, waking the team up before you guys come to town, in what figures to be our toughest game since early December.
5. Tell me what has to happen for WSU to beat Cal? For Cal to beat WSU? Besides, yknow, one team scoring more than the other.
Geez, you stole my answer. Well, since I can't use that one, I'll go with keys from the Coug end, since you already know what Cal has to do to win games.
Offensively, WSU's efficiency rests on two things: Offensive rebounds and turnovers. When they take care of the ball and are able to get it on the rim a lot, they usually are able to pull down enough offensive rebounds to make up for any poor shooting. The Cougs aren't big up front, but they're sneaky quick at getting to those loose balls.
We also like to get to the line. A lot. The frequency with which the Cougs get to the line is 10th best in the nation. So, while you're listening to the game tomorrow, and complaining that the fix is in because we're wearing out a path to the free throw line, just remember -- I told you it was coming, because we've done it to everyone.
Defensively, well ... let's just say we're not coached by Tony Bennett anymore. (Did I just use his name? Dangit!) This team doesn't defend like previous editions, although it is getting better. You'll probably see the Cougs do everything in their power to slow down Randle -- probably putting the long-armed Marcus Capers on him to start -- and hope it's enough. You might also see Bone throw some junk defenses at you to try and slow you down. I mean, UCLA inexplicably used a 2-3 zone to beat you guys, and the Cougs do have that in their toolbox. We'll see.
Personally, I'm not expecting a win for the Cougs. I know expecting the worst is usually your guys' territory, but I just don't think WSU is quite on Cal's level. In some ways, I wish we were playing Cal on the road at this juncture, because I think the Cougs will be a much better team in a month or so. But they should be able to give Cal a competitive game before falling. Let's say a final score of 78-72.