Top 10 Cougar Plays: #2

February 21st: Aron Baynes does what Deadspin contributor Brian Tesch would later describe as “…the basketball equivalent of a lineman running back a fumble 80 yards for a TD”.

Video courtesy BHarmon1975, YouTube

Game Recap

You knew this was coming. You may be surprised it’s not #1, but I think you’ll find out the reasoning for that when I reveal the top play later.

The one thing you should notice about the video is how the crowd behind Baynes rises to their feet and goes nuts. That’s not the student section – it’s the alumni side, during one of the loudest moments in Beasley I have ever been a part of.

Not only that, this play changed the entire complexion of a ho-hum, defense-oriented stalemate with eventual tourney snub Arizona State. The game was 43-40 with just over 6 minutes remaining when Baynes jumped in front of a James Harden pass. He took it coast to coast, and the rest is history. Looking back I didn’t even remember the game was that close. The Baynes dunk woke the crowd up and started a 16-7 run to close out the game for WSU.

You can’t give Baynes all the credit; the WSU defense held the Sun Devils to just four points in the final 5:31 of the game. But without that play, ASU might have hung around a little while longer. Crowds, and teams themselves, tend to quiet down out of fear when an underdog is keeping a game close in the second half. Even an improved ASU team, we thought, shouldn’t have had much of a shot at beating the Cougs in Pullman. Well, we were wrong. The Sun Devils showed up for this one and the Cougs needed some extra effort to get it done.

Arizona State brought an impressive effort to the Palouse, but fell victim to a 6’10”, 270-pound Australian running the length of the court for a dunk.

Philadelphia Gets it Right

Jed Collins signs a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s a win-win. The Eagles get the most talented member of the Cougars’ draft class, and Jed Collins gets a hearty bowl of Campbell’s Chunky Soup from Donovan McNabb’s mother.


Alex Brink, Houston Texan

Brink goes in the 7th round (223rd) overall, and was the only Coug selected in the draft.

But he’s not the only Coug going pro. Michael Bumpus was signed by the Seahawks (great move), and Husain Abdullah (who probably should have been drafted) is off to the Minnesota Vikings were he’ll join Eric Frampton in the secondary.

Jed Collins hasn’t been picked up yet, and if you read my Cougfan article last week you’ll know that I think its crazy for someone not to sign him.

Anyway, congrats to Alex, Michael, and Husain. Good luck over the Summer.

Top 10 Cougar Plays: #3

February 9th: Kyle Weaver crosses over O.J. Mayo

video courtesy BHarmon1975 on YouTube

Game Recap

O.J. Mayo went from being the most overrated player in the country to one of the most underrated in a matter of months. ESPN is to blame – they likened him to the next LeBron on “E:60” and made 2007-08 into “the year of the freshman” when there were so many great players that weren’t (Tyler Hansbrough, Kyle Weaver, Mario Chalmers, among others). By the time people were frustrated that O.J. wans’t putting up 40 points per game, they seemed to forget just how good of a player he is, and will be in the pros.

Of course that’s what makes this play so fun to watch. That, and the fact that team (WSU) not only beat the talent (USC) this season, but beat the living tar out of them. Twice. And Tim Floyd hates the trip to Pullman. A year after getting into it with Tony on the sidelines (one of my favorite moments of last season), Floyd went ahead and got himself ejected from this game after an admittedly bad no-call that favored Kyle Weaver.

Anyway, at least we have some ammunition against the legion of USC football fans. If they talk down to us about football, we can counter with basketball. Just be a little more cautious around Tim Floyd, who will probably up the ante again by physically assaulting Butch during the 2009 visit to Pullman.

But I’m getting off topic. To summarize this play in four words: Kyle Weaver is awesome.

Regarding the blog, posting will be a little slow this week (finals week), but I hope to get another Cougfan article out by the weekend, and I’ll post if any big news happens or if I need to take my mind off of pharmacotherapy for a few minutes. Enjoy the week, everyone.

Electronic Mail

If you want a more anonymous way to reach Stadium Way, give us a buzz at stadiumway@hotmail.com. You can send suggestions, comments, or just some good ol’ fashioned hate mail. The content doesn’t have to relate to the Cougs either, it could be sports in general, or links to some of the amazing accomplishments people have made on the internet. If I get enough response, I might just be able to start a mailbag column. Which would rock. So do it.

Also, this week’s Buzzin’ The Palouse is up at Cougfan.com. This one’s more football-oriented with a discussion of Jed Collins, other Cougar draft hopefuls, Rowing, Baseball, and more. This article is subscription-only, so if you don’t have a CF.C account you won’t get to read the article in its entirety. But my shameless plug for the site is this: it’s basically a non-profit website where the money from the Scout.com network and subscriptions go right back into the content and making sure the forums don’t crash.

Anyway, check out the article if you have some free time. Hope you like it.

Top 10 Cougar Plays: #4

March 8: With 14.4 seconds remaining in regulation, Robbie Cowgill makes a layup and draws a foul from Jon Brockman.

Game Recap

Video (play starts at the 1:19 mark):

courtesy of Kapoleicoug on YouTube

“They had to scrap and fight for everything, that’s the way it’s been for Cougar basketball,” Bennett said. “It’s fitting.”

This was one of about four plays from this game I considered for the list. Three of those plays belong to Cowgill. This one helped send the game into overtime, and if he had made the free throw (he didn’t), the Cougs would have likely won in regulation.

In the first overtime, Cowgill again made a game-saving layup, this time on an offensive rebound to tie the game at 67. All I remember about that play was how wide open Cowgill was under the basket. Certainly in the right place at the right time.

Then, in the second overtime, Cowgill made the dagger, a mid-range jumper from the side that gave the Cougs a 73-70 lead – the same advantage the Cougars would hold at the end of the game.

The other play I considered was either one of Taylor Rochestie’s back-to-back threes that nullified two Husky leads of the same margin. Rochestie and Cowgill carried the WSU offense down the stretch, scoring 14 of the Cougars’ last 20 points. A fellow member of the crowd anointed Cowgill as “Big Shot Rob”, which couldn’t have been more true on Senior Night (with apologies to Robert Horry, who already owns the nickname).

But back to the #4 play. There was something that didn’t feel right about this game. Going in, and waiting for hours in line, there was a sort of relaxed confidence that you usually don’t see from Cougar fans. It was destiny – there was no possible way that Low, Cowgill, and Weaver could end their careers at Friel Court on a loss. And as for the Huskies, who had lost six straight to us, what chance did they have? Remember, the last game at Friel Court in which the huskies played was a 75-47 slaughterfest that ended with Ryan Appleby in tears on the bench.

But all hopes of another blowout were quickly dashed by a slow start from the senior day starters (Cross, Low, Weaver, Cowgill, Henry) and a 7-2 Washington run to open the game. The huskies hung around until a 12-4 run by the Cougars resulted in a 30-26 halftime advantage. Shots were falling for Wazzu, and the confidence was back.

…Until the huskies clawed their way back in. Twice. The Cougs held two advantages in this game that they should have run away with. A 37-32 lead with 16:26 lead got trumped by Quincy Pondexter and three straight husky baskets. Then, a 48-42 lead with 6:18 left (and possession of the ball), was canceled out by Husky free throws and one of the more egregiously awful stretches of officiating this season. The Huskies went on a 10-4 run, with eight of those points coming from the charity stripe.

And then, when Quincy Pondexter dunked the ball with 1:55 remaining, all hope seemed lost. The energy was sucked out of Beasley, and it looked like the bad guys were really going to win this one. There were about four times this game where I hung my head with the prospect of this game being a loss. It just couldn’t turn out that way. It wasn’t supposed to play out like that – but it was.

So who would step up? Weaver was the best player on the team, so he might. Low was the best shooter, so maybe he could drain a clutch 3 or to. Of course when it comes to clutchiness (fake ed. note: not a real word), no one tops Taylor Rochesite, so surely he would come through.

Nope. It was the other senior of the Big Three. It was Cowgill. And when that layup went through the net with 14.4 left, Beasley was one of the loudest places I had ever heard. Hope was restored. For the first time in about 15 minutes of basketball, I went from fearing a loss to believing we would actually win. The only thing that could have topped Robbie’s shot would have been a buzzer beater, which Kyle Weaver almost made when he stole the ball and raced down the court with seconds remaining. Of course, he got caught in that gray area with not enough time to get the layup, and not enough time to pull up for a jumper. So his runner bounced harmlessly off the glass. If he had made that, there’s your #1 play for the year.

Cowgill doesn’t get enough credit. Especially for his defense, which is a big reason why the Cougs have 7 straight wins over the Dawgs. Without him, Jon Brockman would almost certainly have led UW to a victory in one of those games. And on offense, it was always Cowgill that drained those mid-range jumpers, a lost art in today’s drive-or-shoot-the-three world of college basketball. Forrest is a similarly skilled player and a good replacement for next year, but Robbie was one of a kind.

So if you see Cowgill, thank him. Otherwise this guy might have been able to actually win a game against the Cougs in his career:

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The video above reminded me of one play I left off the Top Plays list that should have been included. So let me add it as #5a: Taylor Rochestie hits a halfcourt shot at the buzzer in the first half against UCLA. (play at the :54 second mark of the YouTube video).

Offseason Video of the Week

This might be a recurring segment. It might not be. Either way it’s something you can watch to waste some time.

Video courtesy of kapoleicoug on YouTube. Music is “Boom” by POD, which was also Bret Boone’s intro song for Mariner games. Brings back memories. It’s also one of the greatest music videos ever.