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Cougars defeat Huskies, spoil a former Coug’s return

It wasn’t pretty, but the final score was beautiful

Ashley Davis/CougCenter

When TJ Bamba hit a three pointer to open the scoring with 19:15 remaining in the first half of the Washington State Cougars 56-51 Boeing Apple Cup Series victory over Washington, that was pretty much that for the evening’s proceedings. Outside of a one-point deficit that lasted all of a measly one minute, 29 seconds, Kyle Smith’s Cougs led the entire time. Ok, that may not tell the entire story, so let’s take a brief and largely irreverent look back at Saturday night Cougar victory.

It’s always great to win, especially when the opponent is the cross-state rival, but hoo boy was that a tough watch. Ugly from start to finish, with almost no instance that indicated we’d see something a little more aesthetically pleasing. But enough about Mike Hopkins’ increasingly dire combover situation.

What if I told you on Saturday afternoon that WSU would shoot under 30 percent from the field, to include DJ Rodman, Andrej Jakimovski - the Jaki and Rod cop procedural is apparently on hiatus - and Justin Powell going a combined 4/25? That WSU, a team incredibly reliant on long distance shooting, would hit on just 27% of its three-point tries? That Noah Williams would return to Pullman and lead Washington in scoring? Sounds like a recipe for another disappointing end to a game against the hated rival, right?

Well thank Christ for TJ Bamba and Mouhamed Gueye! And it sure helps that Washington is terrible! Gueye had another outstanding night, scoring 17 points and snagging a game high 15 rebounds. He certainly had a lot of chances to rebound the ball, given all of the shots that were clanging off the rim. His final rebound and basket provided some critical breathing room, as he snagged a Bamba miss and scored with 42 seconds left to give WSU a six-point cushion.

Bamba led the Cougs in scoring (20), with more than a third of WSU’s points. He was also clutch at the foul line, going 5/6 in the final 90 seconds. The first two of those five makes stretched WSU’s lead from two to four, and Washington never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead again.

While the Cougs as a whole, and Powell in particular, struggled mightily from behind the arc, the shots they did hit were rather crucial. A Powell three with 11:49 to go increased WSU’s lead from two to five; a Mullins triple stretched WSU’s lead from three to six with about 10 minutes left, and another one shortly afterward gave WSU a double-digit lead. That Gueye putback with 42 seconds left that we mentioned earlier? It was WSU’s only field goal in the final eight minutes. EIGHT MINUTES!!

However, WSU thankfully avoided what has been a bugaboo in many losses this season, turning the ball over just eight times, and only surrendering 10 points off those giveaways. Meanwhile, the Cougars scored 17 points from Washington turnovers. And while Rodman struggled mightily from the field, he collected nine rebounds (seven on offense), and didn’t give the ball away.

Other random observations:

  • I’m (sadly) old enough to remember when Eldridge Recasner played for Washington. He was pretty good as a player, but my word is he a ghastly analyst. How many guys do you notice constantly referring to their announcing partner by name during a game? Recasner was doing it at a troubling pace.

He also used one of the most tired/dumb crutches that a hoops analyst can, when he said a player is good at “scoring the basketball.” As opposed to punting the basketball? Scoring the hockey puck? Just say the player is a good scorer.

65 seconds to go, Washington on defense, trailing by four. At this point, WSU hasn’t made a shot in SEVEN minutes. Its only points in that space have come from the foul line. WSU has consistently struggled to find decent shots. Recasner’s insight? That Washington should foul. Umm, what? Washington didn’t foul, and Bamba missed WSU’s next shot. Thankfully, Gueye grabbed a rebound and scored on a putback.

And did you know that Noah Williams is a competitor who competes competitively? Well if not, Recasner made sure to tell all of us roughly 95 times!

  • JB Long is a fine announcer, and is to be commended for weathering the storm of incompetence coming from his partner, but can we please stop with the “hurrr throw out the records in rivalry games durrr!” nonsense? That narrative has always been dumb, is dumb, and will always be dumb.
  • I didn’t listen to Kyle Smith’s postgame comments, so I’m curious if anyone asked him that he’s made his team aware of the rule referencing a 30-second shot clock, because it sure seemed like nobody on WSU’s side knows about it. Despite a bright red clock above the basket, and despite hundreds of students counting down in unison, there were multiple instance in which WSU’s players appeared to have no idea that the shot clock exists.
  • While Williams had a pretty solid showing in his return, there were a couple moments that had me chuckling. The first was when he tried in vain to create contact on a jump shot, then shot an air ball while the refs didn’t fall for his theatrics. The second was when Williams thought he had an open three, only to have Bamba recover and swat it away.
  • Can we stop rewarding Braxton Meah’s absurd free throw motion, which involves one hand and a pump fake, by strictly enforcing the lane violation?
  • I will never not laugh at the copious amounts of air time that the Pac-12 Network whitewater rapids graphic gets during every break. It’s like, “Welp, we finished our one 30-second spot that someone was dumb enough to buy, now for two minutes of whitewater shooting through a gorge!” And yet, that two minutes of rushing water provides more insight than Ernie Kent in the studio.
  • Those Washington uniforms, particularly the awful gradient on the shorts, should be tried in The Hague.

So now the Cougs sit at 6-9 in the Pac-12, tied for 7th-place with Colorado. The Cougs have a decent shot to make up some games, as their final five include just one team, the Oregon Ducks, that sits above them in the standings. Next up is 4-11 Oregon State, which heads to Pullman on Thursday evening. Why do I get the feeling that we’ll have to muck through ESPN’s version of Recasner, Adrian Branch? Oh well. Go Cougs.


I have no idea how, but someone in the WSU video department managed to wring more than eight minutes worth of highlights out of that game. I’ll watch it all!

Cougars in the Super Bowl

Pretty big day for a few former Cougar football players! On one side, you’ve got Kansas City Chiefs rookie corner Jaylen Watson, who has been a revelation in 2022, especially in the postseason, where he’s collected two interceptions. Needless to say, Watson has come a long, long, long way in just a few years. It wasn’t that long ago that Jaylen was working alongside his mom at a Wendy’s in California.

“I feel like that job made me a man, made me more resilient,” he said. “Showed me what real life was, and I didn’t want to live it. I wanted to do anything to make my mom happy.

“I just wanted to make my mom proud.”

Watson ultimately became academically eligible to accept a scholarship offer from Washington State the following summer, and he announced his commitment on June 26, 2020, with an apt roller-coaster emoji.

“I persevered [through] so many obstacles throughout this year, went through so many highs and lows,” Watson tweeted. “Sitting back a whole year having to watch gave me more drive and will.”

Quite a lesson in resilience and determination. Congratulations to Jaylen.

On the other side, with the Philadelphia Eagles, sit former Cougs Gardner Minshew and Andre Dillard. Unlike Watson, the two Philly Cougs aren’t likely to see a lot of time in the Super Bowl unless a starter has to exit. Regardless, they get to experience the Super Bowl and all of the trappings that accompany it. Despite his status as a backup, Minshew seems tailor-made for Super Bowl media.

There’s also a proud group of folks back in Mississippi, including Gardner’s dad, Flint.

Dillard also talked about the bond between he and Minshew.

I’m sure there are myriad angles in regards to rooting interest today, but mine is pretty simple. Two Cougs with Philly > One Coug with KC. #math

Video You Should Watch

CBS Sunday Morning reflected on Black History Month with an outstanding segment on the history of the military’s role in integrating our society. It will always amaze me how so many powerful people were fine with black people putting their lives on the line in the name of liberty, but would not tolerate those same black people sharing a water fountain or lunch counter. I’ll never understand it. One thing that caught my attention was the fact that President Truman had to overcome a rather shameful past of racism himself, which began as a child. This is definitely worth your time.

This Week in Parenting

As I mentioned earlier, and as y’all know, Sunday features the Super Bowl. Due to the fact that I was either in the UAE or Europe every time, I haven’t seen a live Super Bowl since New England beat Atlanta. It’ll be nice to take in the game, commercials and ceremony etc. with the family for once. Well, except for that fact that the teenager is headed to a friend’s house for the proceedings. I’m not totally envious, because most Super Bowl parties have other people there, which is something I’m not really a fan of. But I will be jealous if his party includes gambling opportunities, because that really is the best part of this unofficial American holiday (which should either be on a Saturday or take place on Presidents Weekend. Come on, NFL).

The high schooler is also spending his second semester on the track and field team, declaring that he wants to throw the javelin and shot put. Turns out that the track and field experience carries with it a fundraiser, and each kid has some sort of nebulous fund raising amount that they need to shoot for, in order to help with uniforms, travel etc. I joked with him to ask his coach how much I had to donate for the kid to get a varsity letter. This was not met with amusement.

On the 11 year-old front, this week has been a textbook example of a “dad had good intentions which quickly went sideways and careened off a cliff” situation. He’s been asking for a phone, but we’ve disallowed it until he’s past 12, which is when his brother got one. In another attempt to circumvent parental policy, he asked if he could use his brother’s old Germany phone, which doesn’t have a sim card, to listen to music and podcasts. I relented, and then a brilliant idea sprang forth.

We’ve always had trouble communicating with him when he’s home alone, mostly via GChat. I figured that it might be a good idea to put the Signal app onto the phone, since that’s how Mrs. Kendall, the teenager and I communicate. However, one can’t use Signal unless it’s tied to a phone number, and since the phone doesn’t have a sim card, it doesn’t have a number. So I went to the Googles and set up a Google Voice account, replete with a number that I could tie to Signal. This way, communication would be simple, provided his phone had a wifi signal. Dad achievement: Unlocked!

Dad’s horrifically unforeseen and unintended consequences achievement: Also Unlocked!

As one might guess, a Google Voice number carries with it the ability to send standard text messages. We told him that he was allowed to text with two of his buddies from the neighborhood, and nobody else. That proviso never had a chance. Despite the fact that we’ve told him we plan to read these messages, and even though my phone rings when someone calls his number, he remained undeterred from contacting everyone he’s ever met in his entire young life. The first two numbers he immediately began texting with belong to neither of the neighborhood buddies. Matter of fact, they’re both girls, as he already has more girl digits than I’ve had in my life. Did I mention he’s in fifth grade?!

Any time this issue flares up, Mrs. Kendall just shakes her head and shoots proverbial dagger looks my way. I’ve got no comeback. The struggles continues.


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