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WSU’s flaws exposed (again) against Washington

It was a frustrating afternoon on Montlake.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 26 Washington State at Washington Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning. Want to know how mediocre both the Washington State Cougars and Washington Huskies men’s basketball teams are? Their combined overall record is 29-26, their combined conference record is 17-17, and and the two teams sit smack dab in the middle of the Pac-12 standings. To top it off, the two schools split a pair of games this week, each winning at home by the exact same final score of 78-70. Feel the excitement!

On the WSU side, it was a (sort of) promising first half, which ended in a 34-28 lead. However, a lot of WSU’s points felt like empty calories. Michael Flowers was torching the nets from long distance while amassing 20 points, but aside from that, WSU was getting virtually nothing from the rest of the team. It was rather obvious that WSU either needed Flowers to keep pouring in 25-footers (not likely), or a couple other guys had to step up and contribute offensively. That didn’t happen. But fortunately, WSU made up for its poor offense by allowing Washington to score half-a-hundred in the second half.

Taking away Flowers’ 7-12 shooting from three-point range, WSU was a putrid 2-15. After a breakout game in Pullman, Mouhamed Gueye came back to earth a bit Saturday, but still managed 10 points (he was the only other double-digit scorer). Outside of that, and some flashes from Dishon Jackson (who WSU really needs to contribute more) it was a whole lot of bupkus.

Tyrell Roberts and Noah Williams were especially hideous. While Roberts can be partially explained away by the fact that he clearly lacks the size and ability to play on a Power Five team, Williams has no such excuse, and his continued regression is as confounding as it is maddening. Where as before he could at least be counted on to contribute defensively, Saturday didn’t even bear fruit in that area. Washington’s Terrell Brown scored a team-high 25 points, and William’s contributions on offense - more turnovers (3) than made field goals (2-13) - make me more and more curious as to why he keeps logging so many minutes.

Even more frustrating is that if WSU had even won half of the games it lost as a favorite (it has lost at least eight such contests), we’d be wondering about bubble status and not about why Williams and Efe Abogidi (to a lesser extent) have regressed offensively this season. WSU has three winnable games left on the schedule, with back-to-back contests against Oregon State and season-closer at home against Oregon. Hopefully the team gets its act together and minimizes the maddening stretches we keep seeing. I’d be lying if I said I am optimistic.

Men’s Basketball

'We just couldn't get stops': Washington uses efficient second half to clip Washington State, avenging earlier loss to Cougars | The Spokesman-Review
UW standout Terrell Brown Jr., the Pac-12’s top scorer, scored 21 of his 25 points and shot 7 of 12 from the field after halftime, leading an efficient effort as the Huskies exacted revenge with a 78-70 rivalry win Saturday afternoon at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

Women’s Basketball

Things are far sunnier on the women’s side of the street, where the Cougars went on the road and rebounded from a tough loss to the Stanford Cardinal by beating the California Golden Bears, 73-67. Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker led the way with 21 points in the season finale, while three other Cougs - Ula Motuga, Bella Murekatete and Tara Wallack all scored in double figures. All four players bested their scoring averages, and Wallack’s 14 points were a season high.

With the win, the Cougar women wrapped up one of the most successful seasons in program history, setting program records with 19 regular season wins and 11 conference wins. They finished in a second-place tie with that 11-6 conference record, are are on track for their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, which would be a first in program history. It is rather commendable that the team rebounded from a ghastly 83-30 defeat to Oregon by winning five of its final six games.

With the third-place finish, the Cougars earned a bye in the first round of the conference tournament. Since it’s WSU and a late tournament start is mandated, they will face the winner of Utah-Cal next Thursday at about 8:30 p.m. (or 30 minutes after the previous game ends).

Congratulations to to Kamie Ethridge and the players for taking the program to unprecedented heights.

Cougs End Regular Season with a Record-Setting Win at California - Washington State University Athletics
Washington State shot a blistering 54.9 percent from the field against the Golden Bears and an even better 66.7 percent from behind the arc. WSU went 8-of-12 on 3-point field goals.


Cougs win again! WSU traded one sunny and warm spot (Honolulu) for another (Peoria, AZ), and took three of four games from something called the LIU Sharks over the weekend. WSU fell behind 2-0 early on, then silenced the LIU bats and gradually turned that deficit into a blowout win. After tying the score in the fifth inning, the Cougs hung up three in the sixth and three more in the seventh to slam the door and clinch the series.

The Cougars now head to Texas, with a game against Tarleton State on Wednesday, followed by a weekend round robin in Frisco. WSU will take on the Texas A&M Aggies, Wichita State Shockers and Iowa Hawkeyes over three consecutive days.


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This Week in Parenting

After a week off, the Mighty Wolverines were back at it on Saturday, and provided the only win among the few hoops teams for whom I root. The Wolverines rallied from an early 6-4 deficit to close the game on an 8-0 run. The 10 year-old was his typical self, running around to try and steal the ball (he stole two) and jacking shots at every opportunity. He did log a score for the first time since the opener - hitting 1-2 free throws - albeit under questionable circumstances.

There was a bit of a scrum, and we couldn’t really tell who had the ball when a shooting foul was called, but Mrs. Kendall and I swear that one of his teammates was taking the shot. Somewhere between the whistle and the foul shots, my kid just decided he was gonna step to the line. When we pressed him about the episode afterward, he swore up and down that he indeed had the ball when the whistle blew. Mrs. Kendall and I remain skeptical.

After we got done asking about the free throws, I addressed his continually nonchalant actions on the court, where he loves to freelance, and isn’t a big fan of coaching. After the last few weeks of less-than-impressive practice habits, I pulled him aside and told him that he can’t continue to dribble, pass, and play defense lazily. “Do everything on the court with a purpose” is what I keep trying to drill into him. I broached the subject again on Saturday in the car.

Me: “What have we been talking about after practice? I want you to do everything on the court with?”
Him: “I don’t know. My hips?”

As Mrs. Kendall tried unsuccessfully to stifle her laughter, I once again came to grips with the fact that I’m going to be a grandfather in 7-8 years.

The teenager was not at the game because, despite several warnings about the sub-freezing temperatures in the forecast, he opted to spend Friday evening through Sunday morning camping, OUTDOORS, with his fellow Boy Scouts. I’ll be damned if I have any idea where he got that inclination, because the last thing I ever have a hankering for is sleeping outside, voluntarily, in the cold. In his defense, it had been more than two years since he got to go camping, due to the pandemic. And that makes sense, as spending an entire weekend outdoors and sleeping in a 1-person tent is a recipe for COVID contraction. Lunacy.

Anyway, I told him to check in via text when he woke up and when he went to bed as proof of life. The series of texts Saturday morning were disheartening, as he told us that he’d barely slept because he couldn’t feel his toes. IF ONLY SOMEONE HAD WARNED HIM! Being a mom, Mrs. Kendall wanted to launch the alert Quick Reaction Force immediately to rescue her lost sheep. I said, “Absolutely not. He’s not leaving.” He did ask us for some hand and foot warmers, which we dropped off in the afternoon. That delivery helped him get through another cold night, and he was safely returned to indoor warmth on Sunday. He even earned a Polar Bear patch for camping in sub-freezing temps.

I’ll never understand it, but I respect it, because ain’t no way in hell I’m ever gonna do it.


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