There is probably no other weekend during the year that Cougar sports are farther from our minds than the Memorial Day Weekend. People are dusting off their summer gear and planning vacations. Kids are counting down the final days of school. And a few WSU students (fewer than in the past) are in Pullman taking required classes to expedite their degrees.
For those of us remaining in Pullman, the last bit of athletic competition for the 2013-14 school year is taking place at Bailey-Brayton Field with the baseball team finishing up their season in a three game home series against Arizona State. The Cougs enter the final weekend playing for the sake of pride and for team members that will not be returning next year due to graduation, MLB Draft, or other reasons to be able to finish on a good note.
The series opener on Friday turned out to be a microcosm of the entire 2014 baseball season with a roller coaster type game. WSU jumped out to an early 4-0 lead only to lose it, get the lead back, and lose it in a big time fashion at the end to fall by a score of 12-8. Nick Tanielu, the most consistently productive offensive player for the Cougs this season, continued his hot hitting collecting four hits in the effort. The loss dropped the Cougs to 23-29 on the season.
The Baseball team's disappointing season wasn't enough to dissuade Athletic Director Bill Moos from giving head coach Donnie Marbut an extension on his contract earlier this week. Despite the losing season, the third in four years, Moos seems confident with the direction of the program and Marbut's ability to return the team to where he had it four years ago.
With the 2013-14 school year in the books for all intents or purposes, there were a lot of surprises and disappointments.
The Football and Women's Basketball teams seemed to make the biggest strides this year by breaking long postseason draughts, but both lost in disappointing fashion in their postseason contests. Still, nobody gave the either team much of a chance to even go to a postseason and each program made a huge strides.
The Volleyball team showed promise by going undefeated in its preconference schedule and shocking No. 4 USC in an epic five set match, but still struggled overall at the conference level despite showing improvement.
The Soccer team made its usual postseason appearance, but lost a heartbreaker on penalty kicks to Illinois and then their coach, Kedaine McAlpine, to conference rival USC. McAlpine was replaced by Steve Nugent.
Men's Basketball really didn't surprise anybody by not being very good this year, but Davonte Lacy surprised us all by being a much better basketball player. It seemed hard to imagine that Ernie Kent would be in Pullman for anything more than a Pac-12 Network broadcast. But after a four year hiatus from coaching, he got a call from his old boss, Moos, to bring WSU Men's Basketball back to respectability.
All and all, I'd say the 2013-14 year for WSU Athletics was a big success after a 2012-13 season that wasn't all that exciting with most WSU teams either being disappointments or in the nascent stages of rebuilding. I really enjoyed this past season and I am honestly excited for the 2014-15 year. Looking down the list of programs, I don't see a single sport that I feel will be uninteresting. Almost every team seems to be at some type of crossroad to build on recent success or work with a new coach to sustain or rebuild towards the future.
I anticipate the Volleyball program to take the biggest step forward heading into 2014-15. They have a strong recruiting class with a year under their belt mixed in with some veteran leaders. Men's Basketball also should take a big step forward next year, but they have a ways to go to really get exciting. I think Davonte Lacy could get some help from Que Johnson and other young players to let a little air back into Beasley.
The gory details from last nights loss along with a feature on Collin Slaybaugh and his commitment to academics.
Cougars Lose to 21st-Ranked Sun Devils - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Nick Tanielu collects four hits for Washington State.
Cougar Spotlight: Collin Slaybaugh - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
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MIKE LEACH AND GERONIMO
Mike Leach's collaborative work with Buddy Levy on the life of Geronimo and the lessons of leadership is continuing to draw national attention. The Wall Street Journal published a positive review of the book.
Book Review: 'Geronimo' by Mike Leach - WSJ.com
Dave Shiflett reviews "Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior," by Mike Leach with Buddy Levy.
DAVONTE LACY IS REALLY GOOD AT BASKETBALL
A press release and writeup came out yesterday talking about Davonte Lacy's summer trip to China where he will be playing with a Pac-12 All Star team. This will be the second summer in a row Davonte has taken his game international after playing last summer in Jamaica with an Athlete's in Action team. With the difficulties the Basketball team has had over the past two seasons, it's great to see Davonte get some well-deserved recognition.
Lacy Headed to China with Pac-12 All-Star Team - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
WSU men's basketball rising-senior, DaVonté Lacy, was chosen as one of 13 Pac-12 men's basketball student-athletes to participate in a four-game all-star tour of China this summer, the conference announced Friday.
DaVonte Lacy heads back to China - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - May 23, 2014
Washington State senior guard DaVonte Lacy has been chosen to participate as one of 13 Pac-12 men's basketball players who will play in a four-game All-Star tour of China this summer. The tour is part of the conference's Globalization Initiative, which aims to market the conference to international fans. Utah's Larry ...