There are a couple ways to handle today's loss - freak out, or step back and look at the big picture.
Both are acceptable, as far as I'm concerned. Although I'm legally obligated to tell you to avoid killing yourself. WSU lost to the last place team in the Pac-10. A team that had lost 11 straight conference games and was playing without arguably their best player in Ty Abbott. Like a lot of you probably did, I felt lower about this team after the game than I have at any other time this season.
But let me play devil's advocate for a second... Why did we think this year's team was going to be so great to begin with? Klay Thompson will play at the next level, and he's great, but he's not Kobe Bryant. He's not going to drain every three he takes in the final minutes. The rest of this team is young, thin and a mismatch of personnel designed for one style of play (Bennett) versus another (Bone).
Tonight, this team played a walk-on freshman for 20 minutes. I'm not slighting Will DiIorio - he's good... just making the point that this team has such little depth that they had to rely on him, as well as 3 minutes from another true freshman (Dre Winston Jr.) just because of one injury to Faisal Aden. Doesn't that say a lot about where the program is right now?
Yes, free throws were a problem. Yes, I have no idea why Ken Bone didn't single out anyone else besides Trent Lockett to foul in the final minutes. And yes, if I were Ken Bone I would want to lock this team in Smith Gym for the remainder of the weekend and make them do nothing but shoot free throws.
But we know they practice free throws (how much may be up for debate... but even Lorenzo Romar has said too much emphasis on FT shooting can cause it to be even more of a mental issue for the players). We know that Klay Thompson is the number one option on last second plays. But if Abe's shot goes in, we're talking about one of the greatest games in WSU history, instead of a bad loss. That's life.
The Cougs are 5th in the Pac-10 right now. Exactly where they were predicted to finish. Maybe we just drank the kool-aid way too soon.
Player of the Game: Klay Thompson
Right Hand Man: DeAngelo Casto
Unsung Hero?: Abe Lodwick
Play of the Game: I only had radio, so I'll go with the Abe three to put us up one after the frantic second half comeback.
It was over when... Abe's three rimmed out with time expiring.
Stat of the Game: Choose your own depressing free throw stat.