With football and fall in the rearview mirror, we Washington State Cougar fans now turn our attention toward the hardwood. Well, mostly, as there’s still the transfer circus and early signing day to keep an eye on. Only college football could try and cram the postseason and biggest events of the offseason into like three weeks. The best and dumbest sports there is.
Sunday’s focus is on the aforementioned basketball teams, however, primarily the women’s side. The Cougs have an early opener to their final Pac-12 as we know it season, as they face Washington. On the surface, this looks like a matchup of two really good teams, as WSU sits at 10-1 for the first time in more than 40 years, and Washington is unbeaten, sporting a 9-0 record. A look roughly one millimeter below the surface shows a decent difference in those resumés, however.
Outside its one rather curious loss to Green Bay, WSU has been mostly hammering its opponents. The Cougs have won eight of their 10 games by 12 points or more, including a 20-point beatdown of another power conference team in Maryland. WSU also owns a ranked win over Gonzaga. Washington, meanwhile, has beaten a veritable dog’s breakfast menu of opponents, as none of those nine wins has come against a power conference team. It’s rather telling that despite its unbeaten record, Washington hasn’t received one Top 25 vote.
So it seems to this decidedly basketball non-expert that WSU should have the edge Sunday afternoon, but Washington seems to be winning at everything this year, so who knows? Pac-12 Washington will telecast the game, which is scheduled to tip at 1 p.m.
A few hours later, it’s the men’s turn, as the Cougs (ranked 24th in NET! Whatever that means!) take on the Grambling Tigers. While we’re familiar with WSU’s results so far this season - read: lots of feasting on decent-to-bad teams and one loss to the only power conference opponent - Grambling has been on the struggle bus, or, in its case, struggle plane. Many HBCU teams tour the country during non-conference season in order to play bodybag games and Grambling is no different. In addition to facing Colorado as part of the Pac-12/SWAC series, the Tigers have played at Iowa State and Dayton, and will head to Gainesville to face the Gators in a couple weeks.
Predictably, Grambling’s record reflects that of a school that’s faced a tough schedule, as it sits at 2-6. However, Grambling’s defeats have also come at the hands of schools like Delaware State Sam Houston. Matter of fact, its only two wins have come against non-Division I opponents. After this seeming tuneup game, WSU takes on two much tougher opponents before beginning Pac-12 play, as it travels to Phoenix to face Santa Clara, then heads to Spokane to face Boise State.
Sunday’s final non-conference home game is scheduled for 5 p.m., and you can watch the game on Pac-12 Networks. You’d be well-suited to overlay the radio broadcast, as Elise Woodward and Elridge Recasner will be on the telecast call. Gross.
This Week in Parenting
If this week didn’t typify the madness that is youth sports, I’m not sure what will. It started off last Friday, when Mrs. Kendall had to drive the teenager more than an hour away so he could get his official wrestling weigh-in. He’d missed the one right down the street because we were out of town, and the only other option was last Friday, because I guess we can’t find another reliable scale within 30 miles? So she takes the kid out of school early and drives up there, spends roughly 45 seconds watching him step on a scale, then drives all the way back at a high velocity because oh by the way his Junior ROTC awards ceremony was starting soon. Oh, and it was a $5 fee to get weighed. Because of course it was.
While she was up there, she ran into the mom of a kid who had been on the 12 year-old’s fall travel baseball team.
Aside: I struggled for a long time to figure out how to word that sentence, and probably screwed it up.
The mom informed Mrs. Kendall that yet another local travel ball team was forming, and tryouts would take place the next day. After trying to come to grips with the insanity that surrounds youth sports once again, I asked the kiddo if he wanted to try out, and he said yes, so off we went. Problem was that the teammate’s mom had intimated that that tryout hadn’t been widely advertised, so we kept the goings-on to ourselves. So of course we showed up and saw all the other people we usually see who also apparently knew about the tryout. Sigh.
Then, this weekend brought tryouts for the team with whom he played in the fall. I dropped him off at 2 p.m. and left, openly wondering once again why all these parents sit there for hours on the weekend to watch their kids take grounders. By about 3:45, I figured they were close to wrapping things up, so I headed back. They...were not close to wrapping things up. Matter of fact, the 20ish kids hadn’t even begun hitting yet. F***ing super. Well, I didn’t feel like going home and back again, so I went to the closest Publix in search of some BOGO opportunities. Alas, the garlic knots were not on sale. As I got back to the field, the kids were wrapping things up, MORE THAN THREE HOURS AFTER WE’D ARRIVED.
Back on the wrestling front, the kid had his first actual match on Wednesday. Parents were told that the wrestlers had to report to the gym at 4 p.m., and matches would begin at 5. 5 came and went. Then 5:15 and 5:30 came and went. Still no matches, but there were kids doing small laps around the mat, so, progress? No big deal, as we only had dinner to prepare afterward, then work and school the next day, so what would be the point of starting on time? As for the matches themselves, the mighty Dolphins JV squad was rather dominant, taking most of the contests.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go so great for the teenager. He competed his butt off, but his inexperience bit him, as he made one wrong move and ended up on his back. Oh well. He gets another shot next week. If that weren’t enough, he was required to be back at the gym at 7 a.m. Sunday to help out with a youth wrestling tournament. Because who wants to allow teenagers to get some sleep on the weekend?
Been a while since we checked in with this segment. 1939 was very good, and I enjoyed it immensely since I’m a noted history nerd. After that, it was on to Chuck Klosterman’s The 90s, A Book. I know this would be a great read before I even opened it, as the cover sported a phone we used to have in the Kendall house! I was not disappointed. The entire book was great, and if you’re a person who came of age in the 90s, as I am, you will almost certainly enjoy it.
I particularly liked the chapters about Generation X, Zima and clear Pepsi, and the 1992 presidential election. My favorite piece was probably Klosterman’s breakdown of the difference in phone use. He - rather brilliantly - juxtaposes the fact that people were slaves to their phones much more in the pre-smart phone era than they are now. As I tend to do nearly every time I read or hear Chuck Klosterman, I found myself saying, “man, I never thought of it like that.”
The Nineties was a quick read, for me anyway, and now I’m on to Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History. It is interesting! While the narrative itself isn’t exactly a compelling page-turner so far, it is full of interesting factoids and history. I’m currently on a chapter that delves into the roots of Tabasco sauce’s origins in Louisiana, and the rather mysterious man who may have started it all. The thing that always gets me is how complex the food preservation, preparation and recipes were as far back as like 1000 years. It’s not difficult to understand how important salt is, but hoo boy, this book is really illustrating salt’s role nearly every aspect of human history.
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