Every fan has their breaking point, and I'm just about at the point where I want to stick a fork into the 2010-11 basketball season.
Not that it's really over. It isn't, of course. There are still six regular season games left plus the Pac-10 tournament. I'll follow them, root for the Cougs, and remember that WSU isn't truly out of tournament contention until they lose in the Staples Center.
Still, realistically, what are this team's chances of winning the Pac-10 tournament? This is a team that has been unable to win more than two games in a row all season in conference play. Since Christmas Day the Cougars are 6-7... and it's not like they've played a murderer's row of schools. Washington and Arizona are by far and a way the most talented schools they've gone up against, and they won one of those games and should've won the other. Such is inconsistency.
Should we really be surprised? The preseason polls had us picked at fifth place in the Pac-10. We're 6-6 right now, which is exactly good enough for the middle of the conference. And by the Moos Standard - he wants our teams to finish consistently in the top half of the conference - we're actually on pace for what could be considered a successful season. If you were to theoretically add Utah and Colorado to the mix right now the Cougs would be solidly in the top half of the conference. The Utes and Buffs just aren't powerhouse teams right now. Last year's team was tenth in the Pac-10 when the season ended. This year's squad is in a tie for fourth. That's improvement, right?
I've tried to stay away from criticism of Ken Bone. Largely because some of the talking points out there are like the "Klay Thompson doesn't show up in big games" meme - they're based on a small sample size and there's no real evidence to back them up. Ken Bone teams do play defense, for example - despite last night's first half embarrassment, the Cougs are still 23rd nationally in effective field goal percent defense. In fact, if you want to blame anything for the Cougs demise, blame the offense - a unit that is dependent on shooting because there's really nothing else they do well at all. Okay, that's not entirely true. They are decent at limiting turnovers. But they are horrific at two of the other four factors - offensive rebounding and free throw rate. This team is just plain bad at rebounding in general. They do the most important things fairly well - shoot and defend shots. But what's the point when you're only getting one chance on offense, and your opponent is getting multiple tries? You only need to pull up tape of the Arizona game to see what happens.
I understand the anti-Bone faction out there. We've already lost what brought a lot of us pride - our style of play. When you lose games on top of that, the frustration can boil over. But just like I'm not 100% sold on our coaching staff, I'm also not going to throw them under the bus. This team is still the 221nd
youngest oldest in college basketball, and of our five juniors, two are truly Bennett System players (Capers, Lodwick) and one other is in his first year of Division 1 basketball (Aden). I know, you can't make the 'youth as an excuse' argument three years in a row. But at a certain point we have to recognize it's there. But while Bennett's juniors made an unbelievable jump in performance, Bone's haven't really provided a spark, other than taking us from the cellar to the middle of the Pac. This is probably the area where I've been most frustrated with Bone. That, and Ken not campaigning openly for Klay Thompson to return next year. That's selfish as a fan, I know, but I honestly do think it benefits both of us. Klay is a borderline first round pick at the moment, and I fear this team takes a huge drop in wins without him. Hopefully the NBA just goes to lockout and we don't have to worry.
Enough rambling. On to the awards:
Player of the Game: DeAngelo Casto. At least he'll be back for 2012. 22 points on 10 of 11 shooting. 4 rebounds, a block and a steal. He was 2 for 7 from the line, but even if he was perfect, the Cougs still lose by eight.
Right Hand Man: Klay Thomspon. 16 points on 6 of 13 shooting. 7 rebounds, but 4 turnovers.
Unsung Hero: Brock Motum. I don't think he's helping our rebounding, but he wins this by default. Every one else struggled. 8 points on 3 of 3 shooting.
It was over when... Jeremy Green hit a three with 1:47 to play. Probably before then, but that was the final dagger.
Stat of the Game: WSU 3 of 18 from three-point range. Stanford was 7 of 8 in the first half.