There are a number of ways to measuring how a particular defeat might be worse than another and one way is the margin of the loss, and by that metric, the Washington State Cougars suffered the worst loss of Ernie Kent’s tenure with a 98-50 loss to the Stanford Cardinal on the road.
A 41-point loss to the Utah Utes at home two years ago moves to second place.
The Cardinal (15-13 overall, 8-8 Pac-12) were dominant from tip to finish. Thirty five seconds into the game, WSU (11-17, 4-11) tied it at two with a Davante Cooper dunk. Stanford then used separate runs of 11-0, 16-0 and 14-0 to build a mind-boggling 50-11 lead with 3:33 remaining in the first half.
WSU came into the game with a roughly 20 percent chance to win, according to kenpom.com. Five minutes later, with the score 13-2, the Cougars’ chances of winning had dropped to less than 8 percent. At 31-7, it was less than 2 percent. And by the time it hit 50-11, the chances were roughly 0.01 percent — with 23 minutes left to play.
One thing Craig and I talked about on the podcast was that Stanford was exceptionally good at defending threes. In that opening period, WSU shot 0-for-8 from deep, but also shot just 7 of 23 from two and got to the line just twice. Even with all those misses, they could only muster five offensive rebounds, and they also gave it away nine times, leading to 17 points off turnovers.
Meanwhile, Stanford had 15 layups and seven dunks in the opening period while also shooting 7 of 12 from beyond the arc, and that’s about all you need to know about the kind of effort WSU displayed on defense.
WSU didn’t score for the final 3:23 of the game, and on the night, the Cougars would score just 0.66 points per possession, which narrowly missed being one of the 10 worst offensive performances (by efficiency) of the last 20 or so years.
As you might expect, Ernie had an
excuse reason for the no-show, although not the one that was expected. Viont’e Daniels, Jeff Pollard and Carter Skaggs all were unavailable because of concussions, but Ernie pointed to something else.
“There’s some things that have been brewing on this team and I’ve felt like they’ve grown apart a little bit,” Kent said. “They’ve got to be accountable to themselves, we were in a great rhythm coming out of the desert, but since we’ve been back home there’s been some stuff brewing and guys pulling each other apart.”
So ... yeah. The team has played its best run of basketball all year, with three wins in its last five, and now it’s coming apart at the seams? Did someone’s girlfriend cheat on them with a teammate or something? Regardless, it’s bizarre to air this to the world ... unless you’ve made a habit for years out of deflecting blame from yourself and blaming your players. Then it makes perfect sense.
Ever the teacher (lol), Ernie tried to frame this as he always does — as just another learning opportunity.
“You’ve got to understand what it takes to win at this level, what it takes to be a team at this level,” he said, following the 28th game of the season. “You’ve got to buy-in, if one guy doesn’t buy-in, two guys, it’s difficult. You cannot fake it, it can’t be one night we’re there and the next night we’re not. And that’s the lesson they’re learning right now, when we’ve bought in, this team was fantastic.”
Always remember: It’s always the fault of the players.
The Cougars’ next learning opportunity comes on Saturday against the California Golden Bears. At least of the Cougars lose to them, they won’t have ignominy of becoming the Bears’ first Pac-12 win.
That honor goes to the ... Washington Huskies?!?
Schadenfreude Makes You Feel Better!
If you’re wondering how that happened ... I don’t know either. I only watched the last three minutes, which featured some pretty terrible basketball from both teams. I just know that this is my everything:
Cal is one of the worst high major basketball teams I've ever seen and they just beat Washington, who was sitting at 13-1 in the Pac-12 and No. 25 in the AP Poll. That's a bad, bad loss.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) March 1, 2019
Let’s check in with Cal fans:
I’m honestly a little shocked at how happy that game has made me— Nicolas Kranz (@NorCalNickCGB) March 1, 2019
HAHAHHAHAHAHA— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) March 1, 2019
IM STILL LAUGHING
WHAT A WIN FOR THE BOYS
But, Pac-12 Networks can always be counted on to find a silver lining for each team, no matter how bad it was for the loser. Although this tweet was sent after last night’s game, there do not appear to be any highlights of the game against Cal. Perhaps the deadline was too tight?
This is a good take on just how unlikely and plain-ass crazy the win was. Finally, Rick poses an interesting question:
What's worse? Losing by 48? Or being the conference leader and losing to a 5-22 team?— Rick (@wsucougar08) March 1, 2019
I’m voting “losing to a 5-22 team.” At least until Saturday night, when I reserve the right to change my response.
Which is worse?
This poll is closed
Losing by 48
Losing to a 5-22 team
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