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WSU Basketball gets a much-needed win

PULLMAN, WA - JANUARY 15: Washington State Men’s Basketball versus the California Golden Bears at Beasley Coliseum - Washington State forward Andrej Jakimovski (23) Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Γεια σας από την Αθήνα, Ελλάδα, όπου ο καιρός δεν είναι ζεστός, αλλά τουλάχιστον ο ήλιος έχει βγει!

2020-21 has been quite the year for demon-exorcising, particularly when it comes to games against Cal. First, it was our Cougar football team going to Berkeley and winning by multiple scores. Next, the Washington State Cougars basketball team finally heeded the words of Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross. In Saturday’s case, a win in the standings was there for the taking, and the Cougs played the role of closers. I probably don’t need to tell you how much the role of “closer” has been absent from Kyle Smith’s team this season, so when the California Golden Bears cut a 56-49 WSU lead at the 5:02 mark to a 56-54 WSU lead with just under four minutes remaining, anyone who thought, “here we go again” was justified for doing so.

After all, it feels like the Cougs should have several more wins under their belts, what with all of the second half leads they’ve built. But alas, they are what their record says they are. The tendency to fold down the stretch was put aside for at least one night, though, as WSU bowed up once Cal got within two points. A couple stops on the defensive end led to a massive Michael Flowers three-pointer, followed by Mouhamed Gueye free throw and dunk. Just like that, WSU held an 8-point lead with just over 90 seconds to go and that was that.

The victory was due in large part to the big North Macedonian, Andrej Jakimovski. The one-time transfer portal entrant / Loyola-Maryland Greyhound was true on four of his seven three-point tries, and led WSU in scoring despite starting on the bench. I don’t know about you, but I’d call this the biggest development in North Macedonia since the Balkan nation gained NATO membership.

WSU now goes on the road to face the Oregon schools, starting with the sizzling Oregon Ducks Thursday, on that absurdly-decorated floor. Oregon is coming off road wins at USC and UCLA, who were both ranked in the AP Top 5. Yikes. After that, it gets a little easier, as Saturday’s game in Corvallis comes against an Oregon State Beavers team that is positively dreadful. Wayne Tinkle’s bunch has plummeted back to earth after last season’s magical NCAA Tournament run, and sits at 1-5/3-13. Among those 13 are losses to Samford, Princeton and Cal Davis. Needless to say, anything less than a split will be a big disappointment for WSU.

Basketball

Washington State's core principles shine through in 'gratifying win' over Cal | The Spokesman-Review
A shorthanded Washington State team got back to basics Saturday, leaning on its strengths to close out a seesaw Pac-12 game and claim what coach Kyle Smith called a “gratifying win.”

This Week in Parenting

First thing’s first. The family had a year-long NFL picks contest going, and while all of us finished at or above the 78th percentile, the 13-year old came out on top by a wide margin. He keeps asking what his prize is, so I said that I’d tell all four of my readers that he is the Kendall family’s inaugural NFL (not against the spread) picks champion. I hope that’s sufficient, but I suspect he’ll come for some sort of monetary compensation sooner rather than later.

In case you didn’t pick up on the language at the top, Team Kendall took advantage of the holiday weekend by making its way to Athens, Greece. After perusing the interwebs for things to see and do, we found out about a historic sites deal where you got to access seven places for one price, such as the Acropolis etc. Before we went, I tasked the boys with researching each of the seven places and telling Mrs. Kendall and me about them before we arrived. The 13 year-old delivered an oral report, which was marginal but acceptable. When I asked the 10 year-old about his assignment, he told me that he’d built slides in a Google doc. Sure enough, that’s what he did.

While the summaries were incredibly light on content, I was amazed that he put slides together. He’s now an honorary Air Force staff member.

On Saturday evening, after a day of walking around a bunch of places filled with old pillars and bricks, we had some dinner at a local taverna. I had octopus, which was delicious, but that’s neither here nor there. When we got ready to leave, the 10 year-old grabbed Mrs. Kendall’s coat from the back of her chair and helped her put it on. She was effusive in her thanks, telling him how kind his action was.

The little bastard immediately smelled blood in the water, and took the opportunity to plunge the dagger. He looked straight at me and said, “I bet she wishes you’d do that for her.” God dammit.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Greece isn’t into Uber, but it will play the middle man to get you into a cab. You can still use the app, but due to COVID (I think?) the max number of people Uber will let you cram into a taxi is three. That doesn’t exactly jive with a family of four. So on Friday evening, after a few hours walking around Plaka, we were trying to find a ride back to the hotel. We flagged down a taxi, and the driver said he’d accept our party even though he wasn’t supposed to. Whatever, either give us a lift or don’t.

After I ducked while passing a group of cops, we got to talking. When he found out that we live in Germany, he said that his parents lived there for many years back in the day, and he often went to visit. At one point, it was time to buy a new TV. My man suggested to dad that he buy a Sony. “I said to buy the Trinitron! You know what I am saying?!” Since I’m old, I do in fact know what a Trinitron was. “He insist on buying a Nordmende, made in Germany. I say no, the Trinitron is better! Then they move back to Greece and have to pay all these taxes because the TV is from Germany! I told him to buy a Sony!”

The whole time, he was elbowing me to get his point across - as folks around here are wont to do - and I was getting a kick out of our conversation. “I buy a Sony and the picture is so much better, but he won’t admit it!” I was laughing rather hard at this point. Years later, his father passed away, and he kept trying to convince his mom to get rid of the old German TV. “She say no! She wants to keep it because of the taxes!” It was clear that mom would never get rid of that old TV, because it’s a reminder of her deceased husband. I can’t tell you how great this conversation with an anonymous cab driver - who didn’t even want to let us in the car! - turned out to be. Who would’ve thought that a 10-minute cab ride would turn out to be a high point of our trip? The world is a great place sometimes.

Non-Sports

The Once-Classified Tale of Juanita Moody: The Woman Who Helped Avert a Nuclear War | History | Smithsonian Magazine
On the brink of nuclear war, America’s bold response to the Soviet Union depended on an unknown spy agency operative whose story can at last be told.

The Long Afterlife of a Terrible Crime | The New Yorker
Decades after her mother was killed, Regina Alexander reached out to the son of the people who did it.