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Looking at WSU basketball's season opening Texas road trip

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With football on a bye week, it's basketball's time to shine. Their season is just a couple of days away and they start with a big road trip through Texas.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The football bye week could not have come at a better time. Just as Mike leach and his team get the opportunity to take a Saturday off, Ernie Kent and his team get their chance to shine.

Expectations are very low for the Cougs headed into Kent's first season. Last year's star Brock Motum has left and, in his place the spotlight shifts completely to DaVonté Lacy. With DJ Shelton and Royce Woolridge leaving after their graduations also, the team is looking for other players to pick up the slack. Brett Boese, Que Johnson, Josh Hawkinson, Ike Iroegbu and Dexter Kernich-Drew are returners that are all expected to carry a significant amount of weight and to produce big numbers.

Preseason picks, predictably, weren't kind to the Cougars. The media picked WSU to finish 11th on the media day poll, in front of only Oregon State and new coach Wayne Tinkle. Basketball statistics legend Ken Pomeroy pegged the Cougars at 11th in the conference and 146th overall, again ahead of OSU at 227th in the nation. I'll include some national Pac-12 and WSU season previews in the links at the bottom of the post.

The Cougars definitely don't start out with easy games against doormats. They open the season just two days from now on the road against University of Texas-El Paso at 7 PM. UTEP, who finished last season with a 23-11 record good enough for a CBI berth, is pegged to 4th in the Conference USA and is ranked 79th in the nation by Pomeroy. Former USC head coach, and arch-enemy of Tony Bennett, Tim Floyd returns for his 5th year and leads a very talent team led by senior forward/guard Julian Washburn and, last year's CUSA freshman of the year, Vince Hunter.

There won't be any TV for WSU vs. UTEP. You can listen to the radio or, if you have $10 burning a hole in your bank account, you can buy a subscription to Miners TV.

Following Fridays game, the team will head east to Fort Worth to take on the school that is now 4th in the College Football Playoffs poll, yet unranked in the College Basketball Tournament poll: TCU. The Horned Frogs aren't quite as good as UTEP and appear to offer a better shot for the Cougars. TCU was picked to finish 9th in Big 12 (which has 10 teams for some reason in case you forgot), narrowly edging out Texas Tech by 2 votes. Coach Trent Johnson didn't win a Big 12 game last season but expects to be much improved as he welcomes on two transfers, guard Trey Zeigler from Pitt (where he transferred to from Central Michigan) and forward Chris Washburn, the brother and former teammate of UTEP star Julian Washburn.

The UTEP game will mark your first opportunity to see the Cougs on TV. The game will tip off at 5 and can be see on various FSN affiliates around the nation including ROOT Sports Northwest, ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain, FSWest, FSNorth and more.

Basketball Previews

College basketball conference previews: Pac-12 - College Basketball - SI.com
Ken Bone was fired following five seasons in which the Cougs only once posted a winning percentage of at least .500 in conference play. To replace Bone, AD Bill Moos tabbed former Oregon coach Ernie Kent (Moos also hired Kent at Oregon in 1997). Kent’s path to league title contention is steep, but Wazzu does return two of its top three scorers in DaVonte Lacy and Que Johnson.

2014-15 College Basketball Conference Preview: Pac-12 - CBSSports.com
The Cougars made an excellent head coaching hire this off-season with Ernie Kent. The coach knows the northwest region well as the former head man at Oregon and Saint Mary's, plus has a good track record of success. He returns a lot from last season's team. DaVonte Lacy is one of the best returning players in the conference, a shooter that can knock down jump shots from all over the floor.

Washington State Basketball Preview: DaVonte & Ernie | PacHoops
This year is going to be Ernie Kent's first in Pullman and Davonte Lacy's last. Hopefully this tandem can help one another to win a couple basketball games.

Football Bye Week News

SPOKANE, Wash.: Redshirt freshman Falk shines at Washington State | WSU Cougars | The Bellingham Herald
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk did a pretty fair Connor Halliday imitation in his first career start.

Highlights from Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference | Pac-12 Confidential | Seattle Times
Asked about Falk’s makeup and mental grasp of things at this stage in comparison to other quarterbacks he’s coached, Mike Leach said, “I’d say as far as being calm and mentally being able to take the reins of things, he might be ahead of all of them.”

Pac-12 teams enjoying many happy kick returns - ESPN
Return touchdowns are up in the Pac-12 thanks to a combination of explosive athletes and young coverage units.

Women's Soccer - Tournament Bound

Cougar Soccer Trio Receives All-Pac-12 Honors - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
While the Washington State women's soccer team is preparing to host a first round match in the NCAA Division I Championship that is three days away, the Cougars received more good news, Tuesday.

Cheerleading

The 10 best cheerleading squads in college football | Fan Index by Degree
“Watch out for this new team [Washington State], there will be a lot of success in its future,” CEO and founder of the UCA Jeff Webb said at the time. “[It is] Definitely a team on the rise.”