Coug of the Year marches on through the Weaver regional, and this is a very intriguing matchup. Let's get to it. (Full bracket here!)
8. Shawn Swartz
Who is Shawn Swartz, you ask? This article contains essentially all you need to know. Here's a snippet, from John Blanchette of The Spokesman:
Last week, on Monday, Swartz was in his Canadian hometown of Vancouver, undergoing a spinal tap and intravenous chemo, treatment he must endure every three weeks – on top of his daily oral dosage.
Five days later, in front of a small rooting section, the Washington State sophomore high jumped 6 feet, 7 1/2 inches, his best mark of the spring.
I'll admit I'm biased, since I work with chemotherapy on a regular basis at my current job. But I will say this: it can be brutal. And that's with pre-emptive anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drugs on board. Chemo medications are designed to kill fast-growing cells, but they really don't know how to tell the difference between the fast-growing cells on your tumor and the fast-growing cells anywhere else on your body. In a sense, you're hurting yourself as you hurt the cancer. The concept works, but there's nothing fun about it.
Needless to say, it's inspiring when a young man not only fights hard against leukemia, but also keeps up with college and athletics at the same time.
9. Ken Bone
I think it's important that when you look at Ken Bone, you look at what he accomplished in 2011... as opposed to what he didn't. A nine win Pac-10 season. A 22 win season overall. A trip to Madison Square Garden and the Final Four of the NIT. Keeping the team afloat despite several off-the-court incidents and two stars with a foot out the door -- destined to leave the University when the season finally came to an end.
It is a valid question to ask why we're Ken Bone homers here, and the reason why (at least for me) is this: Patience. We don't really know what Ken Bone will or can do with the program here. I think it's obvious the man knows his x's and o's. Just re-watch the Klay-less UCLA game or the second Washington game to see why. He can coach with the upper echelon of the Pac-12; the key is whether or not he can recruit with them. Unfortunately it's going to be two or three years before we have our answer. That's why I'm willing to be patient. Like it or not - and there are certainly times when I don't - Dick Bennett ain't walkin' through that door. Our beloved system is gone, so we're going to have to embrace a new one for the time being and see how it goes.
Next year looks dismal, but I hope that we can remain positive about the future. Strangely enough, Bill Moos' last basketball coach also made it to the semifinals of the NIT in his second year. Three years later Ernie Kent had Oregon in the Elite Eight.
I'm not saying that will happen with WSU... but stranger things have happened.