Vince Grippi checks in with this story detailing Anderson's progress as a receiver. He's obviously always had the deep threat ability, but his hands now seem to have taken a marked step forward -- something that should cement his status as the team's top wideout. And it's not just his hands, but his strength appears to be better, which is helping him as a downfield blocker. WSUFB's Longball shared a similar sentiment in his practice report from yesterday. (It's an excellent read.)
Bottom line? If Anderson truly is stronger and able to be more of a complete receiver to go along with that speed, that should be a huge boost to the offense. (As long as Marshall Lobbestael, the only guy not named Jeff Tuel on the roster with the ability to get the ball downfield, is the one doing the throwing so that defenders aren't simply sitting on the intermediate stuff.)
How about some basketball news? The field for the Great Alaska Shootout has been announced, and let's just say the way it lines up virtually guarantees a cakewalk into the championship for the Cougs.
The five other teams participating are Alaska-Anchorage (a D-II team), Nicholls State (No. 176 Pomeroy Rating in 2008-09), Oklahoma (No. 13), San Diego (No. 177) and Houston (No. 72). Becuase the tournament was unable to secure eight teams, there will be pool play to determine seeding for the final game, in which the first place, second place and third place teams from each pool will square off.
The two teams in WSU's pool? Alaska-Anchorage and Nicholls State -- the two worst teams in the tournament.
While the other pool is hardly filled with heavyweights, it's got one team that should still be in the Top 25 come November despite the loss of its best player from last year (Oklahoma), another team that has just about every meaningful contributor returning (Houston) and another team that still has plenty of talent as it looks to rebound from an intensely disappointing season (San Diego). The games in that pool should, at the very least, be intensely competitive and fun to watch.
Honestly, this isn't such a bad thing. The Cougs play a brutal schedule next year, so having a couple of cupcakes in a tournament -- one of which amounts to a true road game -- isn't all bad. And there's a better chance than not that they'll face a Top 25 Oklahoma on a neutral court. Pretty good setup, if you ask me.
Other interesting stuff from around the internet from the last couple of days:
- Grippi checks in with today's morning practice report. Pretty limited in scope compared to recent days. EDIT, 7:22 p.m.: Of course, moments after I push "publish" Grippi files a pair of stellar posts -- this one on the revival of the no-huddle offense (I'll have my thoughts on it in the coming days) and the more comprehensive afternoon practice report.
- Dwight Tardy tells freelancer Howie Stalwick that he likes the little mean streak the offensive line has developed. Most interesting about this story is that this is the first time I remember a player admitting that there were times last year the Cougs sort of quit. I mean, we all saw, it, but this is the first time I can recall somebody saying it.
- It's looking more and more likely that the Alamo Bowl will play host to the Pac-10's No. 2 team. Besides the increase in payout, I'm just not sure how this helps the conference raise its profile. About the only other thing it does, in my mind, is push El Paso down to the No. 4 choice, which I suppose is a positive.
- ESPN.com's Ted Miller puts together his preseason all-Pac-10 team. Guess how many Cougs are on it?
- Nice story out of Hawaii praising Derrick Low as one of the state's top athletes.
- This one's for Jo-Jo: Soccer has earned a preseason ranking -- No. 21 -- for just the second time in the program's history. That's the good news. The bad news? There are three teams in the Pac-10 ranked in the top 10, and four other top 25 teams on the schedule.