Third Time, Still a Charm

The Cougs have won their third straight over Oregon, 75-70.

I thought WSU had a very good chance to win this game, but I’m surprised at how they did it. If you had told me Wednesday night that UO would shoot over 50%, I would’ve almost guaranteed a Cougar loss. But the offense prevailed by opening a 20-point first half lead that was just enough to stave off a furious Duck comeback in the closing minutes.

There’s something about the Ducks that brings out the best in Derrick Low; last night he was phenomenal again with 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting. He was one of four Cougar starters to score in double-figures.

WSU now faces Stanford for a chance to advance to their first-ever Pac-10 championship game. I would make a pregame post, but you know the story here: Lopez twins vs. Baynes/Cowgill, a chance to avenge two tough regular season losses, and a very realistic opportunity to improve seeding going into the Big Dance. The selection committee has said they plan to put greater emphasis on conference tournaments this year; let’s hope it works out in the Cougs’ favor.

Also, a bit of women’s basketball news to pass along: Katelan Redmon will be leaving the University of Washington. Redmon was the young woman who had originally asked to be released from her LOI after Washington fired June Daughery last spring. However, Todd Turner denied the request, and Redmon played for the Huskies, earning a spot this year on the conference all-freshmen team. The only question remaining now is whether or not she will rejoin Daugherty and become a Coug. I certainly hope so.

Yesterday I had a chance to visit the Roman Art collection sent over from the Louvre at the Seattle Art Museum. But I know what you’re all thinking: what does Tyrone Willingham think of modern-day football armor versus Roman gladiatorial armor?

Well, worry no longer! Thanks to the SAM’s free audio tour of the exhibit you can hear Willingham and Governor Christine Gregoire share their thoughts on completely random parts of the gallery. I’m not making this up.

Unfortunately, Coach Willingham does not share his thoughts on why modern football gear fails to protect his Husky defense from an Alex Brink 36-yard touchdown pass.

Finally, about that ‘Scholarship Chart’ link that you see now at the top of the page and along the sidebar. This was a project of mine to help me sort out the basketball team’s scholarship information over the next few years, as it currently stands. Thanks to some help from the Cougfan Forums it is now finished to the best of my knowledge. However, feel free to pass along any information or suggestions that you may have regarding the chart in the comments section.

The Next Rebuilding Project

On Sunday I attended the Cougar Women’s basketball team’s final home game of the year. Attendance for the game was 675.

The Cougars lost for the 24th time this season. Stanford eased past the Cougs 74-52 and saw their star player Candace Wiggins break Lisa Leslie’s all-time Pac-10 scoring record. It was almost a shame so few people were there to see such an accomplishment.

I say almost because the crowd there, at the very least, was made up of people who cared. The audience cheered the outgoing seniors one last time. They cheered Wiggins after her record-breaking bucket. Kyle Weaver, Taylor Rochestie, and Nikola Koprivica were there to watch the second half (when they weren’t being sought after for autographs), and groups of family and friends were there to cheer on the Cougs in a losing effort. Even the band sparked a mini-run by making noise while Stanford’s reserves were on offense.

The best part of it all for myself and the 674 others was that we saw the end of an era. Soon, Washington State Women’s Basketball won’t be the doormat of the Pac-10. The days of 2-win conference seasons and futility on both sides of the court will be coming to a close shortly. Sheri Murrell and Jenny Przekwas tried to turn around a program that hasn’t finished in the top half of the conference since 1990. Both failed. June Daugherty will not.

Daugherty made the NCAA tournament in nine of her eleven successful years at the University of Washington. She isn’t used to losing, and thanks to her recruiting efforts, she won’t have to be. Daugherty’s first major recruiting class has been ranked 24th in the nation by the spelling-challenged women’s recruiting site HoopGurlz.com. Blue Star Basketball ranked the Cougars’ incoming class 16th in December.

There’s Katie Grad, a Sporting News honorable mention All-American from Auburn. There’s Jessica Oestreicher, a 6’8″ center who is nationally ranked and will be WSU’s tallest recruit ever. There’s April Cook, who played for a #1 nationally ranked Long Beach Poly high school team. There’s Lexie Pettersen, a 6’1″ forward who finally breaks the hex of Wazzu being unable to recruit elite Spokane-area players. There’s Danielle Lenoir, Jazmine Perkins, and Rosie Tarnowski, all of whom you can read about here so that this paragraph doesn’t take over half the page. And it could with all the accolades the future Cougars have racked up.

The best part of it all is that WSU won’t have to solely rely on freshmen next year, as talented juniors Katie Appleton and Ebonee Coates are set to return. It will take time, but it is possible that WSU’s women’s team could rebound faster than the men’s team did under Dick and Tony Bennett. Daugherty has been just that good at recruiting.

And in case you’re wondering what good coaching does with good talent, read this Cougfan.com interview with WSU’s outgoing seniors on the men’s team. Notice how many times Dick Bennett is mentioned, and thanked for his role in shaping the improbable Cougars that you see today. Dick Bennett will be in attendance on Saturday when the #23 men’s team takes on the Huskies, and soon he will not be the only coach that has brought a once frail Cougars basketball program back into the national spotlight.