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Cougars set to take on No. 7 Arizona, baseball gets first win

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The Cougar basketball team faces its toughest test to date Sunday, while the baseball team won handily Saturday.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Cougar fans. Hopefully this post finds you in the middle of a three-day weekend. It's actually a four-day weekend for me, because upper management likes to tag Friday as an off day as well on holiday weekends throughout the year. Sometimes working for the federal government isn't the worst thing to do. There is actually an abundance of  content to write about today, which makes me wish some of this material could be put on layaway for the dog days of June. We'll start with Sunday's action on the court.

The Cougars face the seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats Sunday at Beasley Coliseum. This will surely be WSU's biggest test to date, as Arizona is competing for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, and is outscoring opponents by over 16 points per game. They are quite good on both ends of the floor and, like usual, sport more than one guy who will likely be in the NBA next season. Jacob Thorpe wrote about one stat that exemplifies the monumental challenge ahead of WSU:

And the Cougars will be hard-pressed to stop them. Pac-12 schools are holding each other to a 44 percent shooting average this season but WSU’s opponents have exceeded that in all but two of the Cougars’ conference games.

Elsewhere on the WSU Basketball landscape, two former Cougs are featured prominently this weekend. Klay Thompson took part in the NBA Three Point Contest Saturday and will be starting in the All-Star game Sunday. In addition, former Cougar coach George Raveling was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. While I'm too young (for once) to remember Raveling on the WSU bench, I do remember him as an analyst for several WSU basketball games many years back. It seemed like every time he was calling a WSU home game he would break out his old line, "Pullman isn't the end of the world, but you can see it from there."

Raveling also has a pretty neat part in one of the most significant speeches in American history, as Seth Davis wrote in Sports Illustrated. Congratulations are in order to Mr. Raveling, as he was both a very good coach and a great mentor to young men.

Thompson put up a great effort in the Three Point Contest Saturday night, but fell victim to his teammate Steph Curry, who absolutely torched the basket in the final round, scoring 27 points. Klay finished in a tie for 2nd place with Kyrie Irving. He will make history by becoming the first WSU alum to start in the All-Star game, and will be the first Coug to appear in the game since James Donaldson in 1988. This will be the first time that I've been interested in the NBA All-Star game in ages, and hopefully Klay can put on a good show and bring home the MVP, in what is the first of hopefully many All-Star game appearances.

Basketball

No. 7 Arizona will test WSU’s defense tonight in Pullman - Spokesman.com - Feb. 15, 2015
WSU (11-13, 5-7) took some of the pressure off today’s game by beating Arizona State on Friday, but the Cougars have struggled to have more than a couple of players perform well in the same game in recent weeks. Lately, that player has been Dexter Kernich-Drew, who scored 18 points against Oregon last week and then had a career-high 27 in the 74-71 win over ASU.

Looking back at Arizona State | The Spokesman-Review
Kernich-Drew on confidence: "Coach Kent tries to find whoever's hot and let them play. It makes you just relax a little more. It wasn't really about me going out and getting shots up."

Former Cougars men’s basketball coach George Raveling in Hall of Fame as a contributor - Spokesman.com - Feb. 14, 2015
"My third year (at WSU), we might have won eight games (it was 10), and at the end of the season (athletic director) Ray Nagel called me in," Raveling said. "I thought he’s going to fire me – or tell me he will if I don’t win next year. Instead, he said, ‘I’m going to give you a raise – and just think what will happen when you start winning.’

Klay Thompson

NBA -- How Klay Thompson developed his shooting form - ESPN
Said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the NBA's all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage: "From a technical standpoint, I think Klay is as good as anybody I've ever seen."

‘B.S. Report’: 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend Special "
Klay Thompson has officially made it. In addition to starting the All-Star game, he appeared on Bill Simmons' podcast.

Football

There were a couple interesting tidbits on the WSU football front this week, and a couple others which I'll save for a rainy day. The first is from ESPN Pac-12 Blog, which detailed the attrition from each 2011 recruiting class. The numbers are eye-opening in general, as only 58.1 percent of recruits signed in 2011 played for their teams in 2014. All in all, that seems fairly typical, as attrition is a part of the game.

From a WSU standpoint, however, the 2011 class was disastrous. Four of the 21 players signed never even enrolled in school. Several others either transferred or were dismissed for various reasons. The worst part is probably that three signees ended up on scholarship with other Pac-12 schools. So as many (including me) continue to lament the constant theme of youth prevailing on the field for WSU, the current staff didn't have much of a choice when Mike Leach took over.

The second bit of news involves the possibility that the NCAA will adopt the NFL policy of allowing coaches to directly communicate with players via radio during games. Mike Leach is a proponent of the idea, but it doesn't seem like it would affect WSU's offense too much, since Leach depends on his quarterback to make the actual play call most of the time.

Personally, I think this idea is fraught with problems as far WSU is concerned. Knowing Leach, he'll take three seconds to call the play, then launch into some tangent. "Hey Luke, run four verts. Speaking of verts, that Dominique Wilkins had a heck of a vertical leap. Best I ever saw. Well, the best I saw from a basketball player. Geronimo actually had the highest vertical of any historical figure. He could rally the troops by jumping over his horse from a standstill. It's all in my book. Anyway, just tell everybody to go deep and it should work out in our favor and whatnot." Before you know it, WSU is staring at 3rd and 25 because of three straight delay-of-game penalties.

NCAA studying rule to allow electronic communication between coaches, players on field - Spokesman.com - Feb. 15, 2015
"I’ve always thought that the voice in the helmet’s good," Leach said. "That’s the one thing about the NFL game that’s always been simpler is there is a lot quicker, immediate information."

Tracking the attrition from the Pac-12 recruiting Class of 2011 - ESPN
On the other side of the spectrum is Washington State, which retained seven of the 21 high school players who signed with former coach Paul Wulff through at least a portion of the 2014 season. That class, which was ranked No. 10 in the Pac-12 by ESPN.com and also included six junior college players, was hurt significantly by those who never enrolled (four) and transfers/dismissals (six).

Baseball

Cougars Rout Mavericks for First Win - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
The Washington State baseball team picks up its first victory of the 2015 season as the offense propelled the Cougars past Texas-Arlington, 8-2, at the SFA Tipton Ford Classic.

Track and Field

Regan Runs WSU Women’s Record Time in Mile - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Regan, from Coonamble, NSW, Australia, ran the mile in a time of 4 minutes 43.91 seconds for 17th place overall in the elite competition and was the 10th collegiate to finish. Regan’s Saturday time erased the former WSU record of 4:44.92i run by Lisa Egami on the same Dempsey Indoor track during the 2009 MPSF Championships.

Beer

Anheuser-Busch should buy these craft beer brewers next - MarketWatch
The conglomerate has been on a buying spree as craft takes market share, writes Jason Notte.

Non-Sports

What happened when I confronted my cruellest troll | Society | The Guardian
I’m often deluged with hate online, but after one troll stole my dead dad’s identity to abuse me, I decided to ask him why.