January 10th: Taylor Rochestie's runner with 17 seconds left beats Stanford.
This wasn't just a shot, this was an exorcism of our demons against Stanford.
For the record, I hate Stanford. I hated them ever since the certain game that I don't like to talk about (Funny how ESPN has pulled down the recap, as if it never happened. I like that). I probably hated Stanford before that, but I just didn't know it. I probably would've applied to Stanford as lofty, see-if-I-can-get-accepted school, but there was something unappealing about doing another $50 application when I didn't want to stray that far from home in the first place. Plus, I kinda like the fact that I'm not stuck up about my education. Oooh, you went to Stanford? Let's pull out the brie and chardonnay so we can talk about it!era, and a
Ok, that's not fair. I'm pretty sure most (but not all) Stanford students are cool, so I reserve the bulk of my hatred for the athletic teams. Especially the men's basketball program, headed up in two of the last three years by Brook and Robin Lopez, twin brothers of questionable literacy.
Of course the real reason I hate them is that in our magical, 23-7 Sweet Sixteen season, Stanford beat us three times. Three! That's almost half of our losses for the entire season. And all involve R. Lopez or B. Lopez (sometimes both) manhandling Baynes in the post, while drawing invisible fouls on Aron at the other end. My memories of Stanford games past involve Baynes sitting on the bench in foul trouble, while Brook Lopez beats his chest because he is, in fact, God's gift to basketball.
For the majority of this year's game at Friel, it looked as if the Cougars were in for another loss to the Cardinal. We trailed by as much as 11, and cut the lead to eight at the half. For the most part, WSU was lifeless in their first game against Johnny Dawkins' Cardinal. That is, until a certain freshman broke away for a dunk that gave the Cougars the lead for the first time. The game was hotly contested the rest of the way.
I remember two things about the Rochestie shot. One, it was way too early. 17 seconds left? Milk the clock, buddy. The other was that Taylor, despite having a noted knack for hitting last-minute shots, had never made a game-winner at Friel Court. When the basket went in, we were a defensive stop away from making it happen.
Of course, for whatever reason, it's never easy against Stanford. Anthony Goods missed a jump shot with under ten seconds left. Goods missed, and DeAngelo Casto grabbed the board. There was time left, and with Casto going to the line and WSU up one point, Stanford would still have a chance to tie, or possibly win.
That was the other remarkable thing about this game. In the final minutes, Tony went with the following lineup: Rochesite, Thompson, Casto, Lodwick, Baynes. Seriously. Ye who have little faith in Abe may have forgotten he was on the floor for one of our biggest wins of the year. Finally, Tony showed some confidence in our freshmen. It helped prevent us from going 0-3 in conference to start the year.
Then again, freshmen are still freshmen. So when DeAngelo Casto bricked both (!) free throws on the other end, Stanford had one more chance to win. But Goods' 30-footer for the win fell harmlessly to the floor, and WSU was vindicated.
It may not have erased the painful losses of the past, but for the moment it felt great. Taylor got his winning basket, the Cougs' got their first Pac-10 win, and everyone went home happy. Well, everyone except for Stanford.