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WSU kicks away another game it should’ve won

Second verse, same as the first

PULLMAN, WA - FEBRUARY 12: Washington State Men’s Basketball versus the Arizona State Sun Devils at Beasley Coliseum - Crybaby Bobby Hurley Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Hello from sunny southwestern Germany! It’s 50 degrees outside, and nary a cloud populates the bright, blue sky. In these parts, that translates to every citizen taking to the area hiking trails, bike paths and sidewalks for the first time all year. For yours truly, it means hunkering inside with a Belgian Trappist Quadrupel and watching a Dortmund game (BVB currently leads 3-0 at the 71:00 mark).

I don’t know what the weather looks like in Pullman on Sunday, but it’s rather gloomy in a proverbial sense in terms of your Washington State Cougars men’s basketball team. Seems like it was just a week ago that we were talking about a road sweep and - gasp - a Cougar team that had crept itself back into NCAA Tournament contention. Hang on, I’m being told that yes, indeed it was last week.

If there’s anything we Coug fans have become used to during basketball season, it’s watching the team lose both ends of a weekend series, especially when one of the opponents is the Arizona Wildcats. Saturday was different. Sure, WSU wasn’t supposed to beat Arizona, but it definitely should have beaten a really bad Arizona State Sun Devils team. Didn’t happen.

For the sixth time in this increasingly maddening season, WSU lost a home game as a favorite of two scores or more. For the second time, it lost a home game as a double-digit favorite. It’s one thing if you have a tough time beating the good teams on your schedule, but quite another if you can’t even consistently beat the average-to-bad ones, especially at home.

It was another game in which WSU struggled to score more so than a team with its talent should, which recalled this thought from last week.

Small sample size in terms of games I’ve seen, but Saturday sure made it seem like WSU has very little offensive identity, relying on deep threes and broken plays for a lot of its scoring.

Saturday, WSU was 10-33 (30 percent) from long range.

Then there’s this from the head man:

“We just didn’t have enough juice, didn’t play hard enough,” Cougars coach Kyle Smith said.

Well then. Seems like that shouldn’t be something to worry about when a team is competing for a spot in March Madness, but here we are.

There are still a couple chances to shine, particularly next weekend in LA, but does anyone really believe that this team is capable of winning both of those games? The odds of that are rather lengthy. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that if this team wants to achieve its preseason goals, it will take a run all the way through the Pac-12 Tournament - meaning a win over Arizona, in all likelihood - to get there.

Even on that front, WSU didn’t do itself any favors by coughing up a hair ball on Saturday. A win would have put WSU at 8-4, a half game out of fourth place. That’s important, since the top four finishers get first round byes in the conference tournament. Instead, WSU now sits closer to eighth place than fourth. These guys have it in them to rally and get into the top four. Will they? Well, nothing they’ve shown thus far in 2021-22 would seem to indicate that.

The first chance to take a step in the right direction is Monday, when WSU travels to Eugene to face a reeling Oregon Ducks team. Tip time is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Basketball

First the happy news. One group of Cougars that has a decent shot at the NCAA Tournament is the WSU women’s team. After a thrilling win over the UCLA Bruins to open the weekend, the Cougs face the 10th-place USC Trojans. WSU currently sits just a half game back of Arizona for third. Tip time is scheduled for noon, and airs on Pac-12 Washington.

Cougs Look to Sweep Trojans this Sunday - Washington State University Athletics
The Washington State women's basketball team will be looking the bust out the brooms against Southern California, as the Cougars will be seeking a season sweep of the Trojans this Sunday, Feb. 13.

Washington State's postseason hopes in doubt after upset loss to Arizona State | The Spokesman-Review
The Cougars (14-9, 7-5) routed the Sun Devils (8-15, 4-9) earlier this season in Tempe, Arizona, behind a dominant defensive effort, prevailing 51-29 – the fewest points WSU’s program has permitted in Pac-12 play.

Football

Racquetball, shattered records and small-town Mississippi: Former Washington State coach Jim Walden has deep-rooted history with family of Joe Burrow | The Spokesman-Review
It’s unclear where the Heisman Trophy winner and first overall draft pick would be without the experience, wisdom and genetic gifts passed down from his father.

This Week in Parenting

This week saw the return of the super selfish parent in yours truly. We found out that the 13 year-old was selected to be a member of the local baseball travel team. Now, I’ve never been a fan of this whole youth sports travel team subculture, and that’s probably never gonna change. I’m pretty proud of the kiddo for the progress he’s made in the sport, but as soon as the realities set in, that pride turned to selfishness.

Reading through the emails, I learned that we have to pay north of $100 for his uniform. This comes after buying him pants and a team hat etc. That hat is apparently no good for the travel team, which is the same exact team! Anyway, there’s also the fact that he has a tournament over Memorial Weekend. Well, unless that tournament takes place on a beach in Croatia, dad’s gonna miss it.

The 10 year-old was all over the map this week as usual. First, we had to get him tested for COVID because he had a close contact at school. When informed that he wouldn’t have to miss school since he’s vaccinated (pending the negative test), he asked, “Is there a way for me to get unvaccinated?”

Later in the week, we found out that he volunteered to take part in the school spelling bee, due to some participants who couldn’t be at school on the appointed date. He was given the list of words the night before, and did pretty well until he was asked to spell “ordinary”, which was not on any list we were given. And of course the next several words the other kids got were all on the list. Super.

If that weren’t bad enough, the school sent a link for parents to watch via Google Meet, because we weren’t allowed to watch in person. Why? Pandemic hysteria, two years on. Anyway, Mrs. Kendall and I tried to log in at the appointed time to watch. Success? Nope. So I called the number the school provided for assistance, only to be continuously cut off. I then called the U.S. number provided for the Google Meet to ask for help. In case you weren’t aware, that isn’t cheap when calling from another continent.

I got through, and started shouting (no shame here since the school was at fault) and some other parents on the line said they had to log in with their children’s accounts to watch. Oh, super. God forbid the link the school provided for parents ACTUALLY BE ACCESSIBLE TO PARENTS. We then called the 13 year-old, who provided us with his login ID and hideously complex/school-provided password so we could watch from the car just outside the school.

If that weren’t bad enough, the school refused to release any of the eliminated kids until the entire thing was over. We were told to be there at 5 p.m., only to sit outside more than 30 minutes later as the thing dragged on. And thank god, because if the kids had been released when eliminated, they risked sure doom when traversing the 50 yards of sidewalk between the auditorium and the car. But in the defense of all the bureaucratic administrators, I’m sure these well-meaning safety measure were put in place out of an abundance of caution.

Cat Corner

Been a bit since we checked in on the adventures of Comino the cat. Aside from batting loose Lego into every nook and cranny of the house, one of her favorite pastimes is knocking takeout bags off the counter and turning them into improvised ambush sites.

Some idiot made the mistake of unwittingly wandering too close to the aforementioned location.

Quite a life that creature leads.

Non-Sports

Opinion | Freedom Is a Bad Defense for Ugly Behavior - The New York Times
America’s ugly history of distorting what the word means.

The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon - The New York Times
A Times investigation reveals how Israel reaped diplomatic gains around the world from NSO’s Pegasus spyware — a tool America itself purchased but is now trying to ban.

Inside Mississippi's only class on critical race theory - Mississippi Today
As Republican lawmakers push to ban critical race theory, here’s how the class changed the mind of one conservative Mississippian.