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Cougar Basketball pulls off unlikeliest road sweep in history


NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Roughly 16 hours ago, newsworthy content regarding WSU Athletics resembled something akin to what Tom Joad left behind in Oklahoma. It was so bad that I looked to see if any ex-Cougars were a part of that new football league that’ll fold in six months. Nope! Then, well...

Earlier this week, we learned that the NCAA denied Gage Gubrud’s request for a sixth year of eligibility. But wait!

Wow, really? Cool! I know the reaction to the possibility of Gubrud playing for WSU in 2019 has been decidedly mixed in these parts, but I’m optimistic about the move. Let’s rewind a year and play “what if?” It’s February, 2018, and someone tells you that WSU can sign either Gage Gubrud or some unknown from Mississippi named Minshew. Without the benefit of post-2018 hindsight, my assumption is that many folks would have preferred to cast their lot with Gubrud.

Well now we get a chance to see how both will work out. Unfortunately, none of us have any true insight as to Leach’s primary motivation for making the move. Is it because he loves Gubrud’s talent, or is it because he’s not confident that the other guys on the roster are ready for prime time? We all hope it’s the former, and you won’t believe this but I trust Leach’s eye for talent more than I trust any fan’s.

It’s easy to look at Gubrud’s production and infer that he has regressed considerably since his breakout season in 2016, but look a tad closer. Gubrud’s top three receivers in 2016 were Cooper Kupp, Kendrick Bourne and Shaq Hill. Each player eclipsed 75 catches and 1,100 yards. They combined for 273 catches, 4,058 yards and 41(!!!) touchdowns. In 2017, all of those guys were gone.

Guess what? The Cougs have a pretty damn talented corps of receivers coming back, and a good front line as well. Also in Gubrud’s corner is the fact that he will apparently enroll at WSU soon, which means he’ll take part in spring practices. That’s a big big big deal.

Here’s another thing I know - I’m profoundly disappointed that Gubrud isn’t going to wear #12.

So I went to bed thinking I’d write down some words about the Gubrud news, a perfunctory line or two about the terrible basketball team’s latest loss and call it a day. Well lo and behold, WSU...won again? To sweep the Arizona schools? How long was I asleep? As the headline suggests, this is almost certainly the unlikeliest road sweep any WSU basketball team has pulled off.

The odds were so long that I wanted to find out how well a prospective bettor could have done with $100 in Las Vegas. WSU closed as a 15-point underdog to the Arizona State Sun Devils, and an 11.5-point underdog to the Arizona Wildcats. The money lines were +950 and +550. If you’d bet a measly $100 on the Cougs to win both games, here’s how you’d have done:

I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that not one casino anywhere fielded that ticket.

Gambling aside, it’s hard not to feel great for these guys. How many WSU basketball players throughout history can tell people that they went 2-0 on the Arizona trip? Not many! And look, I know Arizona has its worst team in a long, long time, but WSU’s win Saturday night carried some significance.

The most stunning part? The game was never very competitive. WSU jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and never trailed. After Arizona’s Ira Lee hit a jumper to make the score 17-11, Robert Franks answered with a three-pointer, and Arizona would get no closer than eight points over the final 28 minutes.

I mean, this weekend has to be the WSU Basketball version of the football team’s romp over Oregon State in 2010, doesn’t it? A terrible team that plays predictably terribly for nearly the entire season comes from nowhere and destroys a heavily-favored opponent on the road. In this case, it happened twice!

Robert Franks had another huge game, leading all scorers (by a lot) with 31 points. Franks took nine three-pointers and hit [rubs eyes and squints] seven of them. My word, that is some hot shooting. C.J. Elleby chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds, and Jeff Pollard also reached double figures. The Cougs leaned heavily on those three guys, as they scored 86% of the team’s 69 points. I can’t believe it took me this long to realize that both the football and basketball teams hung 69 on Arizona in blowout wins.

What does this mean in the big picture? Not a great deal, unfortunately. Ernie Kent is still a terrible coach who is terrible at recruiting and needs to be fired and is basically stealing his terribly-excessive salary. Even Ken Bone won at Arizona. On the other hand, it’s hard not to feel great for the players, especially Robert Franks. They did something incredibly rare, and looked pretty good in the process. Let’s hope they can take this newfound competence into their next game against Washington.

One more funny thing about this weekend. 11th-place WSU goes to Tempe and eviscerates the heavily-favored Sun Devils. Two days later, first-place/unbeaten Washington goes to Tempe and loses by 14. Sports!


Analysis: Three positives and three negatives of Washington State’s 2019 signing class | The Spokesman-Review
After picking up 20 signatures in December, the Cougars tacked on two more Wednesday, signing high school defensive end Nicholas Sheetz and junior college offensive tackle Jimmy Price.

Transcript: Washington State coach Mike Leach offers his thoughts on Eastern Washington transfer QB Gage Gubrud | The Spokesman-Review
Leach was supposed to be traveling to Vancouver Saturday morning for a booster event, but due to a flight cancellation, the WSU coach was able to spend 12 minutes on the phone talking about his newest transfer quarterback, who plans to enroll Feb. 18 and participate in spring camp.

Former Eastern Washington QB Gage Gubrud gets NCAA approval, will transfer to Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
In the end he chose the Cougars, who are replacing another one-year transfer behind center – Gardner Minshew.

2019 National Signing Day: Mike Leach shares insights on his finalized class | Pac-12
Pac-12 Networks’ Mike Yam, Yogi Roth and Nigel Burton chat with WSU head coach Mike Leach to gather his thoughts on the Cougars’ 2019 signing class.


Dear Spokesman Review, I know you care as much about WSU Basketball as most WSU fans do, but maybe check the box score before writing your headlines.

Robert Franks scores 34 again, Washington State beats Arizona 69-55 | The Spokesman-Review
Make it an unexpected desert sweep for Robert Franks and the Washington State Cougars.

A lost week: Arizona loses confidence, defense, hope in loss to Wazzu | Arizona Wildcats basketball |
“We didn’t really have an answer for Franks,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “I think his numbers speak for themselves.”

WSU Athletics

Q&A: Washington State’s Patrick Chun talks about his first year as athletic director in Pullman | The Spokesman-Review
Spokesman-Review columnist John Blanchette talks with Washington State athletic director Patrick Chun, one year into him taking over the job.

John Blanchette: Football’s success gives Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun extra momentum for Year 2 | The Spokesman-Review
Outside of some personal snapshots, his office in Bohler Gym looks much like the one Bill Moos inhabited – right down to the same dark wood bookcases and overstuffed chairs.

This Week in Parenting

I’m headed to The Netherlands for a bit, so I decided to take the kiddos to the new Lego Movie. Since I tend to harbor a dislike for nearly all people, and since the movie was premiering this weekend, this was against my better judgment. Predictably, the theater was nearly full despite our 25-minute early arrival, and we ended up in the second row. Fun times.

The movie was pretty good, and there were several funny parts that were clearly intended for adults. The Abe Lincoln joke near the end had me laughing audibly, and even former SuperSonic Gary Payton made an appearance.

So what does this have to do with parenting? Well, as I said, there were lots of people in the audience. Among them were little ones under the age of two. You won’t believe this but there were repeated instances when these kids began screaming. So of course mom or dad would let them go for a minute or two, take them out to quiet them down, then bring them right back in so they could start screaming again. When I see episodes of terrible judgment like this, I think the same thing I ask my kids when they do something stupid: “What did you think was going to happen?”

I will never understand why people think it’s anything but a terrible idea to bring a toddler into a movie theater, believing the kid will defy all known logic and actually sit still and quiet for 90+ minutes. But I guess it’s more important for them to disregard everyone around else and press onward anyway.

So if you’re a parent, please consider this when pondering whether to take your older kid to see a movie. Find a sitter. Find a relative. If you’re a two-parent family, keep one of the parents home. Or, (gasp) wait until the movie is available in your home. I can’t be certain, but I’d guess that the ratio between inconsiderate people like those who bring toddlers to the movies and those whose minivan is taking up two spaces out in the parking lot is roughly 1-to-1.


Best beer I had this week: Once again, Mikkeller’s beer mail service provided some great selections this week. The best I’ve had so far is Norwegian brewer Cervisiam’s Impaled Maple. Oftentimes, the maple can overpower everything else and make the beer taste like syrup. Not the case here. The maple was perfectly balanced, and I enjoyed every sip.

How Artificial Intelligence Is Used To Make Beer
Since brewing beer is an art and a science, artificial intelligence offers a powerful helping hand in the latter.


The Desperado — The Atavist Magazine
In April 2018, a blind man with one foot robbed a bank in Austin, Texas. This is a heist story—but unlike any you’ve ever read.