Hello to all you Washington State Cougars fans. Have you been as pleasantly surprised about this Cougar Men’s Basketball season as I have? As fall turned to winter, and the disappointing football season faded in the rearview mirror, one WSU hoops team took the floor with high expectations, having achieved a preseason Top 25 ranking.
The men’s team was also playing.
Coming off a one-and-done NIT, WSU’s preseason Pac-12 prediction was understandably toward the bottom, as the media forecast it to finish in 10th place. And who could fault those folks? After all, WSU lost a staggering 77% of its points production and 62% of its rebounding (the top four scorers and four of the top five rebounders either left to pursue pro careers or transferred).
Additionally, promising young big man Adrame Diongue departed, leaving WSU with almost zero experience in the post. If that weren’t bad enough, Kansas transfer Joseph Yesufu was lost for the season after playing in just six games, thinning out guard depth even further. Not good, Bob! When Pac-12 play began, things didn’t exactly get off auspiciously, as WSU’s lone win in its first four games came against Oregon State. Same old Cougs?
F*** no, these ain’t the same old Cougs. On the backs of a cancer survivor, JUCO transfer by-way of Idaho, Division II transfer, and an Aussie who was last seen at something called Cochise College, WSU has somehow, some way, cobbled together a disparate group of guys who are now playing some incredibly impressive basketball. That team which was picked to finish near the bottom of the conference currently sits half-a-game out of first place in the Pac-12. Yes, you read that correctly.
That position in the standings could, and probably should, be even better, as WSU went to Cal last weekend and came away with a rather terrible and inexcusable loss, especially given the fact that the Cougs led by three possessions in the final minutes but needed a miracle just to force overtime. That led to a large segment of the Coug fan base to get #madonline, yours truly included (in the form of one tweet, but still...).
After that rather sorry showing, WSU faced a rather momentous two-game home stand against two
cut-and-runners the mountain schools this weekend, both of whom are quality foes (Utah is currently 37 NET/41 KenPom, Colorado is 30/23). 22-point win, good guys on Wednesday. Nine-point win, good guys on Saturday. Hell MF’ing yes. What’s more impressive is that WSU was playing 5-on-8 for the entire second half, as the refs in general and Verne Harris in particular completely embarrassed themselves and their profession with an absolutely shameful and transparently biased performance.
I won’t write another recap, as Nate Dahl is way better at that and already did one, so let’s just have some fun via social media and highlights, shall we? That’s way more fun!
Finally, can we just make Kyle Smith Coach for Life? Make it happen, Pat.
PS - Hey WSU students, I don’t want any lame excuses. You have no idea how rare and precious it is to have the privilege of witnessing a quality men’s basketball team. Maybe get off your lazy asses and spend a few hours of your day at Friel Court, cheering on the team. That is all.
I won’t hold it against you if you watch these with the “mute” button engaged.
The Internet Reacts!
Far be it from me to judge fashion choices, but this is an amazing pull, Jaylen. You may be my new favorite player as a result.
Jaylen Wells with some vintage Wazzu football merch after the game pic.twitter.com/LQ9VxWXtUC— Greg Woods (@GregWWoods) January 28, 2024
Pape Throw ain’t lyin’.
Regional media taking notice!
In an era when it ought to be tougher for a school like Washington State to replace talent leaving early, @WSUCougarsMBB’s Kyle Smith, Jim Shaw and Co. have done an astonishing job assembling a resourceful, well-rounded team— Bud Withers (@bud_withers) January 28, 2024
Washington State a 78-69 winner over Colorado.— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) January 28, 2024
Kyle Smith did it again.
Cougars look like a tournament team.
National media taking notice!
Quite a season thus far for Kyle Smith and @WSUCougarsMBB. The Cougars had to reset after losing key players in the transfer portal and are now 6-4 in the @pac12, 15-6 overall after wins over Utah and Colorado. Wazzu beat Arizona two weeks ago.— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) January 28, 2024
This Week(ish) in Parenting
The second semester has begun rather uneventfully, as the teenager still has lots of homework and the middle-schooler’s only post-school day assignments seem to take place on XBox. As we near the end of wrestling season and approach the beginning of track and field, I got this call from the teenager last week:
“Dad, I’m at practice and the coach thinks I have ringworm.”
Even better was the fact that the apparent infection was inside the hairline on the back of his head, making it more difficult to treat. I was able to get him into the doctor a couple days later, and luckily(???) it was a run-of-the mill bacterial infection and not ring worm which seemingly every kid is deathly afraid of. Either way, he can’t wrestle at practice, which is a bummer. tl;dr wrestling is the grossest of all sports and it isn’t particularly close.
Team Kendall also suffered a death in the family recently - in the proverbial sense - as Mrs. Kendall’s beloved sedan was involved in a collision, which the people in charge of such things subsequently declared a total loss. Fun. The plan, before it blew up, was for the kiddo to inherit the car when he earned his license in a year or so, and for Mrs. Kendall to get a new car. When I picked the teenager up at practice, I told him the situation, and asked, “What do you think this means for you?” He hesitated for a second and then said, “Uh, I get your car instead?” I will say this, I admire the balls it took to arrive at such a wildly inaccurate inference.
On the 12 year-old front, it’s more of the same, and by that I mean a relentless trolling and truth-stretching campaigns. First up, a textbook “how it started/how it’s going” situation regarding the family fantasy football campaign. Here was the message after week one:
Smash cut to the results, after a 14-week regular season and two rounds of the playoffs:
Dad also had the family’s best results in the pick ‘em pool. He came at the king. He missed.
Then, a couple weeks ago, I was in San Antonio for a work-related conference, and he was curious as to what I was up to.
Not sure what he meant by “typical” but I’d bet it was not a compliment!
Finally, the other day I received an email thanking me for my XBox purchase, even though I hadn’t made one. After some hasty forensic-collecting, that left only one possibility.
You’ll notice that I wrote “December” two different times. Well imagine my surprise when Mrs. Kendall, upon returning home from a business trip on Saturday, verified that there had been a gift card sitting on her desk, and it was now absent. When confronted, the timeline suddenly changed to, “I gave it to him a couple weeks ago” and then matriculated to “I gave it to him last Wednesday and he gave me one on Thursday. Mmm Hmm. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
He did bring things home with a good self-deprecating zinger on Saturday, saying he must have been born on the highway because that’s where most accidents happen. The teenager and I appreciated the joke, while mom did not. But hey, two out of three ain’t bad, right?
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