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Cougar Basketball owns the desert, for a weekend

WSU’s basketball teams both beat their weekend opponents from Arizona.

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

I’m sure there are several positive aspects to what has become known as “Dry January”, it’s just that I can’t think of any. One bummer about it is the inability to toast a big Washington State Cougars basketball win, another of which came Saturday evening over the Arizona State Sun Devils. That’s why I’m hoping that Kyle Smith couldn’t care less about this self-inflicted scourge (less than a week to go!) and tipped back a Modelo Especial or three following WSU’s 75-58 victory.

WSU’s results against the Arizona schools seems like a microcosm of what has been a very odd season for the Cougar men. The Cougs went 2-2 over the four games, splitting with both ASU and the Arizona Wildcats. WSU’s two wins came by an average of 15 points, while the losses were both within two scores. Zero research would indicate that it’s a rare season when WSU either loses close or wins big over the schools from the desert.

On the whole, this season of Cougar Basketball lies somewhere between uncommon and completely bizarre. As OMC may ask, how bizarre? Despite its 10-13 record, Ken Pomeroy’s gonkulator ranks WSU at #57 nationally. The next-highest team with a losing record is Vanderbilt, all the way down at #90. The NET rankings tell a similar story, as WSU is once again the highest ranked losing team at #68, then we have to get clear to #93 (Vandy again) for the next losing team.

To boot - on Saturday, a 9-13 team was facing a 15-6 team, and the 15-6 team was a 3.5-point underdog? How often do you see that? Turns out it wasn’t nearly enough, thanks largely to some deadly long-range shooting. In the first half, WSU turned a six-point lead into a 15-point lead in just under five minutes. Then, when ASU slowly crept its way back to a five-point deficit with 6:45 to go, making things a tad uncomfortable, WSU responded Jakibomb to regain some breathing room, and held ASU at arm’s length for the rest of the game. Modelo time!

And now for a segment that we haven’t done for hoops, and may never again, but we’ve got some extra time today since the weather is getting worse. Let’s take you INSIDE THE BOX SCORE WITH MAYBE ALSO A RANDOM OBSERVATION OR TWO!

Box Score Good Stuff

  • Jakimovski’s shooting percentage! Andrej went 7-14 on the whole, and a critical 5-10 from long range. It seemed like whenever ASU may threaten WSU’s lead, Jaki would bury a three to settle things down.
  • Mo on the glass. (I’ve never understood why we all refer to rebounds as “boards” or “off the glass” etc. I mean, don’t most rebounds come from shots that hit the rim, too? But that’s neither here nor there). Gueye was a rebounding monster Saturday, collecting 15, seven on offense and eight on defense.
  • Not to be outdone, Justin Powell hit six of his 11 shots from distance, scoring a season-high 20 points. In the process, he made a case to usurp DJ Rodman on the WSU Basketball cop duo procedural. Jaki and Justin anyone?
  • For the game, WSU outrebounded ASU 47-33 which, along with the 14-to-5 advantage in three-pointers made, pretty much tells the tale.
  • Adrame Diongue made the most of his 3:45 on the floor defensively, blocking two shots.

Box Score Not So Good Stuff

  • D.J. Rodman has been a standout in conference play, but he struggled a good bit on Saturday, scoring just three points on 1-7 shooting. He did contribute to the decided rebounding edge, though, collecting six.
  • Gueye and T.J. Bamba also had a really rough game from the field, combining to hit just five of 22 shots. Needless to say, Jakimovski and Powell saved the day.
  • I don’t know if anyone keeps statistics regarding missed chances at the rim, but man did it seem like WSU had a rough go of it near the cylinder.

What We Would Like to See

  • More consistency from Jakimovski’s scoring. His career high of 22 points all but saved the game Saturday (along with Powell), but Andrej would do well to remedy the seeming “feast or famine” production. In his last six games, he’s scored 17, 1, 12, 7, 22. Despite the sine curve of scoring, he appears to be on the way up after not scoring more than six points prior to mid-January.
  • Definitely not this: Fewer than 10 seconds remaining in a game that’s been decided. Jaki drills a three for the game’s final points. That’ll do it, right? Enter the refs, who just had to go to the monitor to make sure the clock was precisely correct! You know what would happen if we dared miss 0.1 seconds of game time in a blowout? Anarchy, apparently.
  • Bobby Hurley tantrums. They never get old!

Pretty decent weekend for Kyle Smith and Co., as WSU hung tough with Arizona, then sat on ASU for most of Saturday afternoon. It was a much-needed win, as the Cougs head to L.A. to face two of the conference’s better teams.

Over on the women’s side, WSU heads to Tucson with another chance to register a big conference win, facing the Top 20 Wildcats. The Cougs, once again, really needed a win to solidify their NCAA Tournament chances. Prior to its 61-57 win over ASU on Friday, ESPN’s Charlie Creme had WSU as one of his final teams in the field (last four byes).

And guess what? This article took me so long to write that the game has ended and the Cougs won! Four WSU players scored in double figures, led by Center Bella Murekatete’s 18 points and nine rebounds. Surprisingly, perennial standout Charlisse Leger-Walker wasn’t one of them, as she scored five points. However, she also collected 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists. You know it’s a good sign when Charlisse doesn’t score a lot and WSU wins rather easily.

The Cougs damn well better be ranked this week, and I’m certain that Creme will have WSU safely in when his next projection publishes,

This Week in Parenting

It was a big week in the 11 year-old’s fifth grade class, as Washington Commanders safety and Pro Bowl player Jeremy Reaves paid a visit to the class. Reaves is from the area, and the kiddo’s teacher used to have him in class. In advance of the visit, I ordered a couple mini helmets for Reaves to sign (one for each kid). I then gave the fifth grader a silver sharpie for the signatures, because the shade of the helmets would have made the autograph stick out a lot better than black. I showed him as I was putting the pen in his backpack and everything.

The day comes and goes, and the kid walks in from school to show me the autographs. I could barely see them. Why? Because they were in black. I asked him why he didn’t use the silver pen, which I’d packed for him. “I didn’t know where the pen was and I forgot.” Did I mention that I HAD SHOWED HIM PRECISELY WHERE I PLACED THE PEN IN HIS BACKPACK AND INSTRUCTED HIM TO USE IT??!! BECAUSE I’VE DONE THIS AUTOGRAPH THING A TIME OR TWO??!! I don’t know why I bother.

We’ve also been winding our way through some Jeopardy episodes, and the kids keep getting better and better and answering some of the clues. So much so that I may have to discontinue letting them watch with me, because they’ll soon realize that they know as much as I do. There was a Europe category the other day and they got four of the five! (they’d been to four of the places in the clues) I can’t let this continue!

Dortmund Fan Since Forever

Die Schwarzgelben win again! Let’s watch a bunch of white guys do...whatever this is!

Since the rather long World Cup and holiday break concluded, BVB 09 has played three games, and BVB 09 has won three games. The first two were white-knucklers, with American Gio Reyna netting game-winners in the final minutes of the first two games. Sunday was a different story, as Dortmund scored an early goal, added an own goal later on, and left Leverkusen with a 2-0 victory. Bayer Leverkusen had been the hottest team in the league, with five straight wins. NOT ANYMORE!

The Black and Yellow now have a healthy roster, have vaulted up to fourth place, and sit just three points from the top. Vorsicht BVB!


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