Again, refer to Nuss' post below.
I will offer a counterpoint, though, which is this: maybe we aren't 20 points better than anyone. Just like Cal raced out to a ridiculously early 20 point lead Thursday, the Golden Bears just weren't that much better than us (in Pullman, anyway). The shooting regressed, the game tightened up, but ultimately the better team won. I feel a lot like that's what happened again tonight.
It's disappointing, but I'd rather be the team that almost blows games than actually blows games. Of course we're all frustrated by the breakdowns that cause us to get into these situations. Say what you want about the possible mental issues (lack of intensity, thinking the game is over), I think Nuss hit it spot on when he said the problem was defense. Like Thursday when I said we couldn't string enough stops together to overtake Cal's offensive machine, tonight we couldn't string together enough stops to put the game away.
Stanford got the aid of a five-point possession (shades of 2004) - one that got Ken Bone t'd up for reacting to - but honestly the game shouldn't have been close enough to where that possession mattered. Ultimately, it didn't, thanks to Reggie Moore's clutchiness down the stretch.
At the risk of turning this site into harpingonpac10refscenter.com, I feel like now the Cougars are on the wrong end of judgment calls for a simple psychological reason. Say you're a ref - scared out of your mind that you have to go to Pullman to face a crowd out for blood, and willing to go off at you if you make a call against them. The conference will tell you: Don't give in. Don't let the home fans dictate how you make calls, no matter how riled up they are. Now, as an impressionable, scared ref, you head into the game trying to make absolutely sure you don't appear biased to the home team. Not coincedentally, the benefit of the doubt goes to the road team. Stanford slams a ball on the ground? No T. Ken Bone slaps the scorer's table? T. All in the name of unbiased officiating. Studies have shown refs will try to "even" up the game; they favor the team trailing on the scoreboard, or the team trailing in foul margin. Nowadays, it seems like they will even favor the team on the road, because there's the time-honored tradition of home court advantage. Whatever.
Bone stated after the game it may be time to "shake up" the line-up. Not sure I like the sound of that - don't we already know which players are producing the best results for our team? Of course, if the shake-up means more Abe Lodwick and James Watson, I'm all for it. But then who loses minutes? Nik? Thames? They've both proven to be valuable assets. This team has a huge test coming up with three on the road - two in Los Angeles to start, and ending with the hated Huskies. Whatever tinkering might be done needs to be done in a timely and effective manner.
Player of the Game: Klay Thompson. Not sure what Bud Nameck was doing giving this award to Charlie Enquist (no offense), as Klay controlled this game with 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting. He added 3 boards and 3 blocks. Now if only he could get back to his old three-point clip (he was 3 of 10 tonight), we'd be in business.
Unsung Hero: Nikola Koprivica. Early on in the season, it was always Klay and Reggie sweeping these awards. Now Nik is staking a strong claim towards unsung hero of the year. Another ho-hum, 10 point, 8 board effort for someone listed at 'guard'. And he was also 3 of 6 from the field, including 2 of 4 from three.
Play of the Game: Sorry, everyone. Providing the good people of Pullman with their prescription medications prevented me from seeing the game in person. You'll have to fill me in on this one.
It was over when... I think it had to be Reggie's final two free throws to bring the game to its final score with 13 seconds to play.
Stat of the Game: How about the Cougars' 10 to 1 advantage in blocks? Now that's what I call a block party! ZING! Sincerely, Rick Reilly.