I'm not going to lie: I had reached the conclusion at the end of last season that Ken Bone wasn't the coach to lead the WSU program where we all want it to be. When Bill Moos brought him back for another year, I was disappointed.
That said, I held out hope that I was wrong. I'm not going to root for my team to fail to confirm my own decision. That goes against my DNA as a fan, even if others seem to revel in being "right."
The season got off to the start we pretty much all expected, with comfortable wins at home over Cal State Bakersfield and Lamar and a loss at Gonzaga that never really was close.
Then came TCU.
WSU had not ever lost a game on its home court in November. And while TCU technically is a "major conference" opponent, the Horned Frogs have been in the Big 12 only a couple of years and have routinely been an awful, awful team. This was expected to be a fairly easy win for the Cougs.
No such luck. WSU fell behind 21-8 in the first 14 minutes of the game and trailed by 11 at halftime. However, despite the double-digit deficit, kenpom.com's win probability calculations pegged the game as still a 50-50 proposition, thanks to the fact that the Cougars were considered the superior team -- the site estimated the Cougs would win nine out of 10 times.
That proved prescient, as WSU opened the second half on a 20-8 run. The game would be a back and forth affair the rest of the way, but in the end, Amric Fields -- who hadn't played yet in the season and would struggle with injuries the rest of the way -- poured in 16 points off the bench to power TCU to the 64-62 victory.
It was a stunning loss for those of us to believed this WSU team was a top 100-ish squad with some nice pieces. Surely this team was better than TCU, and it would rue the day it let one get away against an awful team such as the Horned Frogs.
It turned out that the Horned Frogs were indeed awful. But so were the Cougars. And there were definitely warning signs in that game - the inability to put up even an average offensive performance (the Cougs scored just 1.0 points per possession) against a team that plainly looked bad defensively. TCU would go on to give up 1.12 points per possession or more 12 times this season, including nine instances of 1.20 or greater.
Shooting was the culprit, as it was virtually all year: Just 33 percent on twos and 61 percent on free throws. Dreadful. DaVonte Lacy, Royce Woolridge and D.J. Shelton all had solid games, but as it would be all year, the supporting cast of Dexter Kernich-Drew, Jordan Railey, Will DiIorio, Ike Iroegbu and Que Johnson was bad: 7-for-27 from the field, including 0-for-9 on twos. They had four assists and five turnovers.
And we didn't even know that it would be Woolridge's most efficient performance of the year.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it's easy to assign arbitrary value to past events, especially when you consider that they were actually pretty close to winning two games at their holiday tournament, including nearly beating tournament team St. Joseph's.
But man: It's hard not to look back at that awful loss to TCU and see it as the beginning of the end.
What about you? What was the moment from this season that you think most led to us being where we are today?