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Cougars build a big lead but can’t hold it in loss to Colorado

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It was going great, until it wasn’t.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings. Seems like just last week that we mentioned how, despite the fact that the Washington State Cougars basketball team was in the midst of a bad stretch, there were still signs for hope. There was also something about progress rarely going in a linear direction. Fast forward to Saturday evening, when WSU’s path toward a quality win and a measure of respectability took the shape of an A-frame house.

As Dan Patrick would say, the Cougs were en fuego to start the game, racing out to a 23-5 lead over the heavily-favored Colorado Buffaloes in just over eight minutes. Maybe this was the night WSU would finally get out of its doldrums and knock off one of the conference’s better teams. Things were certainly leaning that direction.

Or not. Once again, we learned that momentum in sports is not actually a real thing, despite what so many announcers want you to believe. Over the next 27 minutes and 49 seconds, that 18 point lead would perform a 180-degree turn and become an 18-point deficit, as Colorado outscored WSU 61-25. SIXTY ONE TO TWENTY FIVE. Credit where it’s due, as it is damn hard to pull off a 36-point swing in just over half a game, but damned if the Cougs weren’t down to the task.

So, how did we get here? Theo Lawson broke down what has become a chronic problem for WSU, that of the scoreless drought.

I know WSU misses Elleby, who is now in the NBA, but to paraphrase Rick “15 seconds and a nap” Pitino, C.J. Elleby ain’t walking through that door. I know Kyle Smith has voiced his fondness for drinking a Modelo or two after a big win, so I was thinking that he must have them piling up in his fridge lately. Then again, given what his team is going through, something tells me that all of these losses hasten the the emptying of his alcohol inventory. Can’t say I blame him.

Basketball

Early 18-point lead dissolves for Washington State in 70-59 loss to Colorado | The Spokesman-Review
It’s now five consecutive losses and six in the past seven games for WSU (9-6, 2-6 Pac-12). Because their December game was postponed, the Cougars and Buffaloes will meet again Wednesday night in Boulder.

Football

Decent amount of news on the football front this week, though most of it was a bummer. First was Blake Mazza’s entry into the transfer portal, followed by the expected announcement that the quarterback room was getting less crowded, as Gunner Cruz also said he was departing.

Mazza talked at length to the Spokesman Review about the reasons behind his departure, and the fact that he didn’t even get a chance to announce it the way he wanted. Why? Well, college football in the information age!

As he was talking through his decision to leave Pullman with Rolovich, Mazza’s phone began buzzing and the Twitter notifications started to pile up.

By the time he got off the call, 20 FBS coaches had followed Mazza’s Twitter account and the “NCAA Transfer Portal” profile, created by Rivals.com, had already reported his entry, effectively scooping the kicker on his own announcement.

For some reason, this classic scene from South Park came to mind.

Kicker Blake Mazza opens up about decision to transfer after record-setting tenure at Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
“It’s a decision I’ve solidified and I’m not going to lie, talking to my coaches this morning was a hard thing,” he said. “To this moment, I’m like, ‘Blake, are you making the right decision?’”

Elsewhere, Gunner Cruz is also heading closer to home, as it didn’t take long for the Arizona native to sign on with the Arizona Wildcats and new coach Jedd Fisch. It looks like a good opportunity for Cruz, as the quarterback situation is, uh, shaky, and the new head coach has lots of experience teaching QBs. According to the Spokesman Review, Cruz and his new group of cats are slated to visit Pullman next season, though things are far from settled due to, well, you already know. Hopefully Cruz wins the job and lights up the scoreboard in 11 of 12 games next season.

Ex-Washington State quarterback Gunner Cruz announces transfer to Arizona | The Spokesman-Review
Though an official 2021 schedule hasn’t been released, and it’s unclear how the Pac-12’s North-South rotations will be shaped by the COVID-impacted 2020 season, WSU and Arizona are tentatively scheduled to play in Pullman during the upcoming season and in Tucson in 2022.

Canzano: Pac-12 presidents sound like they know what they’re doing when it comes to Larry Scott’s replacement - oregonlive.com
Conference presidents must get hire right.

This Week in Parenting

This week was Judgement Day in the Kendall household, as report cards came home. When I say “came home” I mean they were emailed to me, which is largely anticlimactic since I can play “Big Brother” and check their grades online whenever I want. I tend to avoid that, not necessarily because I trust them to get things done but more because I’m lazy and I forget nearly everything.

The nine year-old basically gets pretend grades like “P” and “+” or whatever, so the teacher’s comments are the important. In his case, he seems to behave in class much like at home, except there are no girls cooing all over him at the house. He is “outgoing and participates in discussions” but “sometimes gets easily distracted when working independently or can be a distraction to others.” Translated, “He doesn’t really care what he’s supposed to be doing, he only cares about what everyone else is doing.” That’s him. He often asks me what I’m up to, even if it’s just walking from one room to another. “Minding my own business” is my standard reply.

Then there’s the 12 year-old, who tainted his otherwise spotless report card because reasons, according to him. When mom and I inquired as to why he got a poor 2nd quarter Reading grade (his favorite subject!) the excuses flowed as if a fire hydrant were knocked over. He sent me the assignment, along with his responses. It involved an analysis of the reading content known as RACE, in which he had to color code certain parts of his responses. There was no analysis. There was zero color coding. There were, however, tears.

I try to tell them that things will often turn out well if they do the simple things - follow the directions you are given, and answer the question that is asked. That alone will get you damn near to the end. Instead, he did none of that, and the grade suffered as a result. So he got to spend a good chunk of his Saturday completing that assignment for mom and dad, even though it wouldn’t help his grade. Poor kid.

Book Club

Still making my way through The Only Plane in the Sky. It is still incredible. Here are a couple passages that struck me, for far different reasons.

First, Ileana Morgan in Arlington, VA: “At 1:00 the phone started ringing, people who want to come and help...They wanted to help dig people out at the Pentagon...They wanted to enlist and go fight. I had a man who called and he said, “I’m 80 years old. I still fit in my pilot uniform from World War II. I can still see. I can still hear. I have kept up with my training as a pilot. Tell whoever you can tell that I’m ready to report for duty.”

That guy is a damn stud.

Hiba Elaasar, Louisiana, Age 7 at the time: I was a pretty shy and quiet child, but I had made my first friend on my own. After that day, my friend came over and said, “We can’t be friends anymore, Hiba. My mom said until this is over, we can’t be friends anymore.”

I looked up Hiba Elaasar. She is now a Pediatric Neurologist, and I bet that mom is still an asshole.

Non-Sports

And now, let’s take a few minutes to appreciate the greatest food that man ever invented.

A Brief History of Peanut Butter | Innovation | Smithsonian Magazine
The bizarre sanitarium staple that became a spreadable obsession