Both of Jordan Railey's coaches at WSU have been enamored at one time or another with his potential; he's a legit 7-feet tall and can run the floor well. But up until now, Railey probably was best known for his preternatural ability to commit fouls.
Because on Saturday, in a 91-71 beatdown of Texas-San Antonio, Railey did this:
Considering that there is a high probability this is the most exciting thing to happen to WSU basketball all season, I feel like this entire sequence is worthy of further analysis. Let's take some time to appreciate this rare occurrence of being able to smile about Cougar basketball.
First off, it's unlikely this would have happened at all had WSU not been up by nearly 20 points with under a minute to go -- which, of course, is it's own brand of "what the heck?", given how badly this team has shot all year. But on Saturday, WSU shot 60 percent from the floor, including 18 of 30 from beyond the arc.
Since WSU was up by 19 points ...
Here's how it looked from that poor UTSA player's perspective, who surely thought to himself, "Well that wasn't in the scouting report":
Now, for as good as the dunk was, the bench celebration might have been almost as good:
Now, there's lot going on here. Let's break it down:
Not pictured above, but definitely in the GIF: The basketball ops dude who casually strolls into the picture all like, "Hey guys, calm down, it's not like you've just seen something totally incredible and completely unusual or anything."
Oh, and by the way: Even as Pac-12 Networks took 10 seconds to show a couple of replays, the celebration continued. Brett Boese apparently still was disoriented, because this is the first time since 1998 that a player has used the "we're not worthy" gesture:
Personally, I don't see the dunk as anything more than a novelty, but coach Ernie Kent is hoping this actually will be part of Railey becoming a solid contributor for the team. Via Jacob Thorpe's transcription of the postgame remarks:
The biggest thing about that dunk ... I'll say it this way: We've always told our players, at some point in time you've got to come join the party and you've got to bring something with you when you come.
I thought in his case it was nice to see the response of the players, because he's another player that has not had a lot of success, in practice or in the games. He's not played a lot. He could have got his head down. He's worked extremely hard the last few days and hopefully this can get him going because we need him. We need him because next week that team (Gonzaga) is huge. We're going to play so many teams that are big, we can't play small-ball with that size on the floor so he's a player that needs to continue to develop. You'd think he would be there already, he's not there, but we need him to get there and help us this year.
(Was that dunk maybe him taking out some frustration?)
No, there was a situation in practice yesterday where he got tangled with another player and the frustration left. The dunk was an exclamation point. The steam was already blown off and he just needs to go play. He needs to not worry about anything and just play. Sometimes, you guys don't understand with young people, how many things are in their ear and in their head. They just need to free up their backpack, free up their head and go have fun.
And that's the significance of that play. That was a fun play. I came in the locker room an asked, 'Isn't that fun?' Well, just go have fun all the time. What's wrong with it? So, hopefully, he will.
Kent is absolutely right. Railey's had a rough go of it in his career -- which started at Iowa State, involved sitting out a year after transferring, and eventually included the firing of the coach who recruited him to WSU -- and the Cougs really do need him to give them at least some serviceable minutes.
But even if he doesn't give them anything more this year, we'll always have this dunk to remember Jordan Railey by.