First things first: Thank you Cougars. Especially Derrick, Kyle, Robbie, Jeremy, and Chris. You have been class individuals on and off the court and have made everyone at WSU proud. Winning measures teams on the court but the teams that become legends are the ones that win with character. Half of the Pac-10’s all-academic team members are Cougars. You never see Derrick Low pounding his chest; you never see Kyle Weaver taunting an opposing crowd. You embodied all of those five pillars that your coaches told you to believe in: humility, passion, servanthood, utility, and thankfulness. Tony and Dick Bennett brought you all here because they thought you could lose together first. Who’d have ever known that not only would you go out winning together, but go out winning 52 games over two seasons.
I had been working on a draft discussing whether or not this team is superior to the 2006-07 Cougs. I think we can say now with a good amount of confidence that they are (with apologies to Ivory Clark). 26 wins despite a loaded Pac-10 conference, a Sweet Sixteen appearance, and possibly the best starting lineup the Cougars have put on the floor in decades.
We live in a society obsessed with happy endings. It surprises me that we love the NCAA tournament so much, considering that 64 of the 65 teams will go out with a loss. But this was a good loss, if there is such a thing. There’s no shame in losing to the #1-ranked team in the nation and a team that will likely be winning the whole thing when it’s over (Carolina is a great, great team). This was the ending we knew was probably coming but one we were hoping to delay. I actually let myself think about beating Carolina, then wondering to myself, “can we really win this whole thing?”. In the end, the Cougs were Rocky (in the first movie). They were King Leonidas. They fell, but what matters is how they did it and how they got there. And I can’t think of a team I’ve admired more in that respect.
Now that the season’s over, it’s time to do some looking back. I will be browsing over the season in the next few days to put together a list of my Top 10 Cougar Plays of the Year. There are several already that stand out in my mind as candidates for the top spots, but suggestions are absolutely encouraged. I want to compile a list that reflects’ the plays that stood out to all Coug fans, not just me. And thanks to some tech savvy Wazzu fans out there, a few of the plays should be available for viewing via YouTube and other media sources. Stay tuned.