Top 10 Cougar Plays: #9

February 28: Caleb Forrest deflects a pass.

There's a couple of ways you can approach watching this play.

You could stop it at the :28 second mark, which is the extent of this particular play, at least in the Top 10 Cougar Plays series.

Or - you could unwrap your Christmas Present early and watch the whole thing. Either way, I'm not revealing where the play on the other end of the floor lies in the countdown. Not yet.

This is a play that by itself is meaningless, but because of what ensues later, is so critical. Let's say Pendergraph catches this ball. Without Forrest getting a hand on it, it's likely a two for the Sun Devils and a three point deficit for the Cougars with under fifteen seconds to play.

There's a couple things of note as this play develops. One, I never noticed how well Capers defends Derek Glasser. Glasser, as you know, was absolutely on fire in overtime and we could not afford to leave him open again. Capers shadows him the whole way, until he collapses into the lane with the rest of the play.

Next, Rihards Kuksiks would've been just as well off trying to make a runner over Baynes than making that pass to Pendergraph. In fact I'm not sure why a three-point specialist like Kuksiks would even put the ball on the floor in the first place when he could've at least gotten a shot off against Caleb Forrest.

Finally, it's questionable whether or not Pendergraph gets fouled as Forrest goes up to deflect the ball. In the game you watch the ball so closely that you don't realize Pendergraph gets body checked to the floor by Forrest. Does it constitute a foul, especially in such a tight game? Possibly. I do think Pendergraph sells it a little at the end, and the refs simply let them play. If I were an ASU fan, however, I'd have my doubts about the cleanliness of Caleb's actions.

This play really is a testament to what Caleb Forrest did all year. He let Kuksiks beat him off the dribble, but recovered in time to break up the pass to Pendergraph. Caleb, going into the season, was the surefire winner of the "white guy praised by the media for his hustle" award. Normally the recipient of that trophy is actually a pretty bad player who gets by on hustle alone. Caleb wasn't. He didn't light up the stat sheet, and he wasn't a natural scorer, but he was the quintessential role player in the Bennett system. He protected the ball, he made some key baskets along the way, and helped us win ball games.

David Chadwick would've been the next in line to the Robbie Cowgill/Caleb Forrest power forward dynasty. Unfortunately, it looks doubtful he'll be attending WSU, although you have to wonder if a guy like Chadwick or Forrest would ever really thrive in any other style but Bennett ball. Still, Bone would do well to learn a lesson from his predecessor. This is the kind of player you want in terms of character. One thing you can say about Caleb: he never took a night off, much less a possession. He was intense - sometimes a little too intense - but he played above and beyond what people expected of him. It's only fitting that he got the assist on Senior Day.

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