January 15th: Daven Harmeling hits a three-pointer with 1:42 left to tie Oregon State, eventually sending the game into overtime.
Looking back on this play, I incorrectly thought that it happened closer to the buzzer than it actually did.
Then again, this whole game was played in slow motion.
So it was only fitting the shot to send it into OT happened with 102 seconds left.
After a 33-30 first half in favor of OSU that was much more offensive-minded than all the analysts predicted (myself included), the second half lived up to all our expectations. Those expectations, of course, being of a game played at a snail's pace, with the winner being the first to fifty.
For a while it appeared the Beavers had us buried on their home court. OSU went on a 10-4 run in the first six and half minutes of the second period to put the Cougars down nine. Without any signs of life on offense, the Cougs seem beat by a much improved Beaver team.
Then, WSU came back. But they did it with defense.
In the final seven minutes and change, only three baskets were scored. FIrst, a three by Taylor to tie the game at 47. Next, an answer by Lathen Wallace to put the Beavs back up by three.
And then, it was Harmeling's turn.
One of the sadder storylines in 2008-09, at least in my opinion, was the disappearance of Daven Harmeling. I wrote about it back in February, hoping it was only temporary. A small sample-size issue with a team rotating in multiple shooters in the hope of finding a consistent one.
But things never materialized for Daven. He dropped from 8.9 points per game his sophomore year to 3.8 in his senior campaign. All this despite the removal of strong three-point shooters keeping him on the bench: Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, Josh Akgonon, etc.You expect to see an upward trend in your stats as you advance to seniority; for Daven it was a flatline.
Daven was a victim of expectations that were too high, thanks to a couple of particularly stellar performances in his career. No one can forget his 20-point effort in what we now know as the turning point for WSU basketball: the Gonzaga game in 2006. He followed that up with an equally brilliant (and career high) 28 against then-#7 ranked Arizona. Harmeling had arrived. He just never took that next step, especially last year when his services were needed the most.
Maybe we missed the point, though. In a little less than a week, Daven Harmeling graduates with a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology, health and fitness education. He was a three-time All-Academic Honoree in the Pac-10 conference. He has a 3.54 GPA, and is aspiring to be a coach in the future. Harmeling is one of the rare athletes that excels on and off the court, and has been an exceptional representative of our university.
We would be well served to keep Harmeling's name on file at WSU. After Tony's departure, we all seemed to agree that the only person that might actually "get it", the only kind of coach that would be willing to stick around Pullman for their career, would be a WSU alumnus. If Harmeling has success in the coaching ranks, and there's little reason to believe he won't, maybe his path will lead him back to Pullman.
My favorite idea, personally, is that we bring Harmeling back as a "graduate assistant", or give him an available position in the athletic department. Seems like a good guy to keep around. After all, some of the best coaches weren't exactly the star players on their team. And some stars (Isiah Thomas, off the top of my head), shouldn't even be coaching a pee-wee league.
Outside of the Gonzaga and Arizona games, it's become clear to me that Harmeling's career at WSU was less about scoring points and more about his future. That's really how it should be.
And for one night this winter, we got to see Daven's last big shot. A three that would eventually send the game into overtime. An overtime where the Cougars would run away, 61-57, and get back to .500 in the Pac-10.