It seems every year in the inner state basketball rivlariers grow that much more instense. This year will be no different, with a number of subplots and story lines to follow. One of those story lines will be Who Is Team of the Last Half Decade (at least it will be while we wait for the season to start and look for things to discuss) There is no trophy for winning this title…but given the success of the states programs a debate sure can be made. Don’t think so…take a look at the numbers for the WA schools of the past 4 years.
05/06 11-17…2 wins vs UW..1 loss vs. Zags.
06/07 26-8…3 wins vs UW..1 win vs. Zags..2nd Round NCAA
07/08 26-9…2 wins vs UW..1 win vs. Zags..Sweet 16
08/09 17-16..2 L’s vs UW…1 loss vs. Zags..1st round NIT
WSU has made a success sandwich the last 4 years. This year they will be looking to stack more meat to their recent run of success. Clearly they are the head to head winner vs. the Dawgs taking 7 of the last 9. They have split head to head with the Zags so this year’s match will go a long way in determining who is the Eastsides top program. Everyone knows the Cougs are young this year, but so are both UW and Gonzaga. It should be noted WSU’s run of success came during the Pac-10’s run as the top conference in the country, making each of those wins even more impressive. An 11-17 season is the worst out of each of the teams, but of course they still swept the Dawgs that year.
05/06 26-7..1 win vs. Zags…Sweet 16
06/07 19-13 1 loss vs. Zags
08/09 26-9 Second round
UW had success in the two years WSU didn’t and vice versa. They split the match up with the Zags but then canceled the annual showdown. They look to be back on track after taking the Pac-10 title last year, but a second round exit doesn’t give them the 2 Sweet 16 the Zags have. UW fans will tell you they hold a 2 game win streak vs. the Cougs. They may also talk about the previous 10 years….but this isn’t comparing all time teams, just recent history, and the Zags could easily turn that argument around on them. If UW can win the Pac-10 again this year and make it to the Sweet 16 they will have made a strong case for the title
05/-06 29-4 Sweet 16
06/07 23-11 1st round
07/08 25-8 1st round
08/09 28-6 Sweet 16
Gonzaga is the only team to have made the tourney all 4 years. The Morrison team, like the Roy team was great and likely should have gone deeper…but this isn’t about just on year. As we all know they play in the WCC. So basically they are assured 14-18 wins each year depending on the conference and the few non-con gimmies. Zag fans will argue it isn’t their fault they play in the WCC and do all they can to make up for it with a difficult non-conference schedule. A WSU or UW fan could make the argument played in the Pac-10 in the middle 2 years they would not have likely made the tourney (and there really is no argument in 06/07). Gonzaga truly plays their hardest non-conference schedule this year, taking on the runner up and 7 other games against NCAA teams from last season. Of course when compared to WSU’s schedule….14 games vs. NCAA tourney teams, 5 of who were conference champs it doesn’t sound as impressive. If the Zags can get back to the tourney this year and win a first round game they could make a strong case for top team of the last half decade.
My projected winner….COUGS!
I wouldn’t spend 30 minutes of my work day to write up how I thought UW was going to end up the top team of the last half decade. I think we are going to split with UW this year, giving us 8 out of 11. We are going to the Kennel and grabbing a big W there (I’ll take our returning players and new guys vs. their returning players and new guys any day). And I’ll be damned if Cougs aren’t going to make the tourney this year in a down Pac-10 where it seems every team is reloading (sans Cal a suspect OSU and the worst Oregon team in 10 years) That would give us the head to head vs. each squad. A strong set of tourney appearances. And begs the question, how the hell did that happen in just 5 years?
Zag and Husky fans may argue with my prediction, but the facts do not lie. Should the cards fall as predicted their going to have a hard time making the case they have owned the state for the last 5 years anymore than the Cougs.
Now, regardless of who you think should win this argument pure basketball fans out there can appreciate the level of success 3 different schools are having on the national level. All 3 schools are young and talented which should make the next few years just as exciting. This next year should be an exciting time, but even more so when Cougs can boast they are team of the last half decade.