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Cougs can’t quite close a great WSU sports week

It was still pretty good over all!

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Oregon Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Since we last congregated in this space, your Washington State Cougars went on quite the hot streak. First, there was WSU men’s basketball beatdown of the cross-state rival Washington Huskies. Fast forward to Thursday, when the volleyball team dispatched of the 18th-ranked UCLA Bruins and the men’s basketball team pulled its second straight road upset, beating the Oregon Ducks (-11.5) in Eugene for the first time in over a decade.

That set the stage for Friday afternoon, when the Cougar women hosted 4th-ranked UCLA. Could the hot streak continue? Hell yes it could, thanks in large part to freshman phenom and proud Kiwi Charlisse Leger-Walker, who plunged in the dagger with a late three-pointer. That brought us to Saturday, with two more chances to keep with Cougar winning ways going.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Cougar volleyball faced UCLA for a second consecutive meeting, but came out on the losing end, winning only one set. Later on, the Cougar men’s basketball team faced the Oregon State Beavers and, well, you know the rest. It was another episode of “As Bonton goes, so go the Cougars” on Saturday, and unfortunately, Isaac wasn’t his usual self. Solid contributions from Ryan Rapp and D.J. Rodman (10-17 with seven three-pointers combined) kept the Cougars in it, but they couldn’t quite overcome the Pac-12 refs Beavers. Couple that with an unfortunate injury to Dishon Jackson and Saturday was not one to remember for the men in anthracite, as they lost by a slim 68-66 margin.

Things don’t get any easier, as WSU is scheduled to play games in five of the next 10 days, beginning with a Thursday evening clash against UCLA. That’s followed by the USC Trojans on Saturday, Washington on Monday - wait, Monday??? - the California Golden Bears on Thursday and finally the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday. Sheesh. Fortunately, every game is in the friendly (if deserted) confines of Beasley Coliseum.

But wait, there’s more! We’re not quite done with the Cougar sports weekend, as the women’s team takes on USC at noon, PST. These two teams faced off earlier this season with USC winning in a game that, you’ll be stunned to learn, went to overtime. Go Cougs!

Basketball

Washington State unable to secure road sweep with 68-66 loss to Oregon State | The Spokesman-Review
After setting a season high with 24 fouls in their win over Oregon Thursday, the Cougars managed to top that two days later, committing 26 fouls in Corvallis. The Beavers were whistled for 13 fouls and attempted 20 more free throws than WSU. OSU outscored WSU 23-10 at the line.

Football

We’ll lead off with some annual offseason #content. Nick Rolovich’s grade isn’t what we’d hope for, but I think it’s also largely unfair given everything this team had going against it, both throughout the season and during the last game when they were practically inserting equipment managers just to maintain the minimum number of defensive players.

Grading College Football's First-Year Coaching Hires for 2020
The Cougars opened with a 38-28 win over Oregon State but finished the year with three straight losses by 14 or more points.

Five takeaways from Washington State coach Nick Rolovich's signing day press conference | The Spokesman-Review
Within the past two months, the Cougars added four more players to their 2021 class, but the most important commitments they secured came from players already in the program.

Two straight columns of positive WSU opinions from Jon Wilner. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

Pac-12 stock report (special edition): Our post-National Signing Day recruiting analysis for 2021 | The Spokesman-Review
Nick Rolovich’s first full recruiting class was impressive compared to WSU’s historical standards and features four-star receiver C.J. Moore.

Super Bowl Cougars

You may be aware that Sunday marks the final game of the NFL season, which some people call the Super Bowl. Deone Bucannon was elevated to Tampa’s active roster shortly before the NFC Championship game, and will hopefully be active again for the Super Bowl as the lone Cougar on either roster. Here’s hoping Deone gets a ring!

January 26, 1992 was easily the greatest Super Bowl Sunday in WSU Cougar history, as Mark Rypien capped off a magical season with an MVP performance in Super Bowl XXVI when his Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills. Rypien completed 18 of 33 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. And as you’ll see in the clip below (narrated beautifully by the great Donald Sutherland!), he conducted what is probably the greatest white guy celebration in the 55-year history of the game. The Rypien-centric portion starts around the two-minute mark.

This Week in Parenting

Pretty benign week when compared to the usual combination of buffoonery and insanity. The nine year-old’s teacher stopped by the house to drop off some school-related items, and Mrs. Kendall informed me that she ended up staying for dinner and quite a while afterward. I don’t know how the kid reacted, but the 3rd grade version of yours truly would have been positively mortified at the thought of a teacher hanging at the house for such a long time. And eating dinner together? Heart attack city! Because as all of us kids always believed, our teachers are not normal people who exist outside of school. They just live on school grounds and never leave. At least that’s the way it was where I grew up.

The boys were supposed to have a sleepover down the street Saturday night, so I asked the 12 year-old on Sunday if he enjoyed it. Apparently the mom down the street wasn’t feeling well, and my oldest summed it up thusly: “We stayed until around 1am and Mr. Nathan (neighbor kids’ dad) had to go into work so mom was super mom and took care of everyone.” Mrs. Kendall is indeed super mom.

Book Club

Finished up the 9/11 oral history, and moved along to another history-themed book. The family has been fortunate enough to visit two if the three Baltic states (you’re next, Lithuania!) and had lovely times all around. The history of the region is quite fascinating, so I wanted to read more about it. That led me to The Baltic: A History by Michael North. Unbeknownst to me, the book is translated from German. I’m currently trudging my way through the 15th century, and am learning all about the Teutonic Order and Hanseatic League. Gripping stuff!

I also learned that the Baltic is likely derived from the Latin term “mare balticum” or “Balticus” because its inhabitants noted how it stretched like a belt as far as they could see. I know, riveting! Anyway, as slow as I am at reading in general, coupled with the fact that I’m often consulting Google Maps in order to visualize the narrative, I suspect I’ll be at this one for a while.

Non-Sports

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” is a phrase that is often - and likely dubiously - credited to the great Abraham Lincoln. Given the subject matter of the below article, it’s fitting that Honest Abe is credited with that quote, because it perfectly describes Ms. Gabriela López.

How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools | The New Yorker
The president of the San Francisco Board of Education discusses the controversies around reopening and renaming her district’s schools, including questions about how to view the legacies of complex historical figures.

Afghanistan War: A Trip Down Kabul-Kandahar Road, the Highway to Hell - Rolling Stone
The $300 million Kabul-Kandahar road was meant to be a symbol of the new Afghanistan. Today it reveals everything that has gone wrong in America’s longest war.