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Has WSU Basketball exceeded expectations?

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It's early, but it's possible that the Cougs have already performed above expectations.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Raise your hand if you thought, nearly half way through Pac-12 conference play, that WSU would not only not be in last place, but they'd be tied for sixth. Ok, 99% of you with your hands up are lying. As Jeff summed up, WSU picked up its third conference win in seven tries Saturday behind Charles Callison's 30 points. Not only was that a career high for Callison, it nearly doubled his previous career high of 16. Callison even chipped in five steals.

Pac-12 play has been a study in contrast for Ernie Kent's team. WSU won at Washington and darn near won at Cal. They beat two teams (OSU and Colorado) who were in the NCAA Tournament just last season. On the other side, they've suffered two utterly embarrassing losses, by 30 at Stanford and 41(!!!) at home to Utah. To put that Utah loss in context, Paul Graham never lost that badly in Pullman. Paul. Graham.

As we sit here on Sunday, WSU is 3-4 in conference and 10-9 overall. What are we supposed to make of this? They've already exceeded their overall number of wins from last year, and less than halfway through Pac-12 play, they've tripled their conference win output. Not only that, they have another winnable game next weekend at ASU. They have a somewhat realistic shot to be 4-5 halfway through the Pac-12 season.

If you'll recall, WSU was placed a distant, and I mean DISTANT 12th place in the preseason media poll. Their wins have come over teams predicted to finish fifth (Colorado), sixth (UW) and ninth (OSU). That alone tells us that WSU is much-improved from just a season ago.

So what to make of this? WSU fans who don't think Ernie Kent is the coach to get the basketball program headed in the right direction (yours truly among them) are probably afraid that the uptick in victories will lead Bill "I pay as much attention to basketball as I pay to Burkina Faso politics) Moos to rubber stamp another rollover year on Ernie Kent's contract, and pile even more onto WSU's financial burden.

To add to that, this team is set to be almost completely gutted by graduation after this season, with Josh Hawkinson, Callison, Ike Iroegbu and Conor Clifford set to depart. That leaves Malachi Flynn and...umm...yeah. On the other hand, I think we can all agree that watching the Cougs win is much more fun than watching them lose.

So I guess there's nothing much more to do except sit back and watch it play out, hoping the Cougs win some more games while somehow not damaging the future of a program that has seen precious few bright spots.

Basketball

Charles Callison’s career-best 30 points help Washington State men outlast Colorado in overtime | The Spokesman-Review
The Cougars credited a small but spirited crowd for giving them the deciding burst of energy once both teams were tired.

Colorado vs. Washington State - Game Recap - January 21, 2017 - ESPN
Callison scored a career-high 30 points and had five steals, to pace Washington State past Colorado 91-89 in overtime on Saturday, as the Cougars put a four-game losing streak to rest and kept the Buffaloes winless in conference play.

Football

I took the kids out to St. Petersburg Saturday to watch Gabe Marks play one final game in a WSU helmet. When tickets are $6, it's a great way to entertain little ones for a few hours. And heck, even Mark Rypien was there! Gabe's game was a bit disappointing, as he only caught one pass for eight yards. He also had a couple drops.

The worst part was that Marks got few downfield chances, as the West coaches seemed determined to throw as many screen passes as socially acceptable. There was one play near the end of the first half when Marks faked like he was blocking for yet ANOTHER screen, then took off. Nobody, and I mean nobody, went with him. He would've walked in to the endzone on his hands. So of course the quarterback threw the screen pass and the play went nowhere.

The silver lining in events like these is that scouts value the week of practices a lot more than the actual game. Feedback from practice was that Gabe was one of the standouts throughout, which will be much better for his draft prospects than his stats during the game.

Top 25 returning Pac-12 players in 2017
We gave you the top 25 players of the season in the Pac-12 about a month ago, but today we take a look forward and rank the top 25 players who will return next season.

Pac-12 football: Analysis of the latest news
Salave’a is not only a sound position coach; he’s a first-rate recruiter with deep ties to the Pacific Islands, where there’s plenty of talent, especially on the lines of scrimmage.

Tracking Pac-12 football coaching changes
Most schools have employed four head coaches from the start of the 2000 season until this point (including the new hires at Oregon and Cal).

Small schools and full DVRs: Why Longo can win at Ole Miss
So apparently nobody told Mike Leach that the SEC is almost always the best conference in the country. He probably didn't think Minnesota was anything special, either.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: I give an honest try to drink something that is available in the West. So when I opened Anderson Valley's Barrel-aged Salted Caramel Porter, I had high hopes. But no. This week brought co-champions. After the game Saturday, the family headed over to the Green Bench Brewery, where I had a Plug-and-Play IPA that was very good (I'd provide a link but Green Bench is horribad at updating their beer list). Earlier this week, I had a Grimm Ales (who I had never ever heard of) Sumi Ink. Man, it was tremendous.

Dumbest New Craft Beer Trends: Bad IPAs, Pedal Bars & More - Thrillist
This is the craft beer version of Frank Costanza's "Airing of Grievances."

Non-Sports

Vietnam: The War that Killed Trust - The New York Times

The legacy of the war still shapes America, even of most of us are too young to remember it.

The Real Problem with Hypocrisy - The New York Times

What, exactly, is the problem with hypocrisy?