Monday, November 30, 2009

Two Cougar Teams Are Quite Thankful

The men's basketball team went 3-0 in Alaska during Thanksgiving Break to win the 2009 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. Sophomore Klay Thompson was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and scored 43 points in the championship game.

The women's volleyball team received an at-large bid to the 2009 NCAA Championship Volleyball Tournament. The Cougs (18-12, 6-12 Pac-10) will face Northern Iowa (30-2) Friday Dec. 4 in Lincoln, Nebraska. This marks the first time the Cougs have competed in the NCAAs since 2002, when they reached the Elite Eight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Preseason Tournaments Galore

It’s that time of the year again. College basketball teams all around the country are trying to get that postseason feel. From New York to Maui, the Virgin Islands to Alaska, champions are being crowned at preseason tournaments. Washington State tries its hand at the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout starting at 8:30 p.m. (Pacific) Wednesday against host Alaska Anchorage. That game will be available on FSN Northwest and Fox College Sports.

It is the Cougars’ first appearance at the Shootout since 1981. That season the Cougars opened the season with a win at the tournament against Alaska Anchorage, before dropping the next two games. Like this season, that squad’s trip to Alaska was followed by a Dec. 2 game in Spokane against Gonzaga.

Before the much-anticipated matchup, WSU will try its hand at a field of less familiar opponents. The Cougars are 3-0 all-time against Alaska Anchorage, and Friday will be the first meeting between WSU and Nicholls State. That game will tip off at 6 p.m. (Pacific) and will also be featured on FSN Northwest and Fox College Sports.

WSU’s third opponent will be determined based on the outcomes of the first two games. Depending on their place in Pool A, Saturday the Cougars will take on the corresponding finisher in Pool B. WSU is a combined 1-3 against the three teams in Pool B, and has never met pool-favorite No. 17 Oklahoma.

The Cougars’ first games away from Pullman will offer a good way for the team to gauge its early season success. One player head coach Ken Bone is hoping the arctic won’t cool down is sophomore guard Klay Thompson. Fresh off his career-high 37 points in the last outing against IPFW, Thompson earned his first Pac-10 Player of the Week honor. Averaging 27 points a game during the first three games, the Ladera Ranch, Calif. native is fourth in the nation in scoring.

While WSU is getting its preseason tournament underway in the 49th state, Gonzaga is trying to wrap up a tournament title in the 50th. At the EA Sports Maui Invitational, the Bulldogs came from behind Monday to beat Colorado 76-72, then knocked off Wisconsin Tuesday in impressive fashion 74-61. Gonzaga will meet up with Cincinnati at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the championship game. The Bearcats reached the title game after upsetting No. 22 Maryland 69-57 Tuesday in the first semifinal.

Elsewhere in the Pacific-10 Conference, a number of young and inexperienced teams are trying to find their identities at tournaments across the continent. Arizona is also participating in the Maui Invitational. After a gritty loss to Wisconsin Monday, the Wildcats pulled out an overtime win against Colorado Tuesday behind 30 points from Nic Wise. They will try for fifth place at 2 p.m. Wednesday against No. 24 Vanderbilt.

Arizona State travels to the Big Apple for the final four of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off. After winning two home games earlier this month to advance to Madison Square Garden, the Sun Devils earned a date with No. 7 Duke at 6 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN2. LSU and No. 13 Connecticut are in the other semifinal.

Stanford is getting more than just a warm holiday in Cancun, Mexico. Something Cougar fans became all too familiar with during the past three seasons, Landry Fields gave Tony Bennett all he could handle Tuesday as the Cardinal knocked off Virginia 57-52. Fields’ 25-point, 13-rebound performance powered Stanford into the final of the Cancun Challenge against No. 5 Kentucky. Fields and the rest of the Cardinal will try to take down John Wall and Patrick Patterson at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in a game that can be seen on CBS College Sports.

UCLA gets to play a little closer to home as a strong field convenes on Anaheim, Calif. for the 76 Classic. The Bruins open the tournament at 10:30 p.m. Thursday against Portland. The three-day tournament features four ranked teams (No. 9 West Virginia, No. 10 Butler, No. 18 Minnesota, and No. 24 Clemson).

Oregon is hosting its own local mid-major invitational of sorts, and right now is losing. The Ducks take on Montana State Saturday, after already suffering losses to Portland and Montana.

The next Cougar home game is Dec. 9 against a very formidable Idaho team.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cougar Basketball Moves to 2-0

Although the Cougs had to work to hold the lead last night against Eastern Washington University, they ended the game with a 67-61 win that advanced them to 2-0 in the regular season.

The 94-66 win against Mississippi Valley State on Friday earned Ken Bone his first regular season victory as head coach of the Cougars, and marked the beginning of a new era with a much different feel than "Bennett Ball."

Sophomore Klay Thompson led the Cougs in scoring in both games with 24 points against the Eagles and 20 against Mississippi Valley State. Thompson struggled early against Eastern Washington, missing his first six shots, but he pulled it together as the game progressed.

Sophomore DeAngelo Casto finished the game with 16 points against the Eagles, just two points shy of his career-high (18 points) that he put up against Mississippi Valley State on Friday. True freshman Reggie Moore ended the game against Eastern Washington with 15 points.

Despite the Cougs' record, there are certainly areas for improvement. The Cougs gave up the ball 19 times against the Delta Devils on Friday, and were 21-for-50 shooting against the Eagles on Monday. Another sour spot was Thompson's free-throw shooting against Eastern Washington. He missed five of his 14 foul shots -- he only missed three total last year.

The Cougs may be 2-0, but with a close call against the Eagles, hopefully the Cougars received a wake-up call and will continue to keep the Bone era undefeated.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Soccer Headed to NCAAs

The women's soccer team (13-5-2), with an at-large berth, will make its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance Friday at 5 p.m. versus the Villanova Wildcats on the University of Maryland campus.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Arizona Runs Over the Cougs

After Travis Cobb returned the opening kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown for the Wildcats, many WSU fans couldn't help but be reminded of last year's horrendous season. When Arizona went on to score 24 points in the first quarter alone, Coug fans may have sighed a familiar sigh.

When Jeff Tuel left the game with a knee injury, Wazzu fans probably shed a tear or two, fearing that any chance WSU had at a Pac-10 victory was lost.

This game, like almost every other game in the last two seasons, was out of reach after the first quarter. The Cougs have been outscored 136-3 in the first quarter this season, and they've failed to put up any kind of fight until the second half after it's too late. Arizona had such a comfortable lead in the first half that they put in backup quarterback Matt Scott in the second quarter. Scott rushed for 91 yards, averaging 9.1 yards per carry, while WSU as a team only managed 185 yards.

The only bright spot among many dark ones was Jared Karstetter's one-handed catch for a 64-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that prevented the Cougs from being shut out. The final score was 48-7, pushing Arizona to within half a game of first place in the conference.

Many fans believe UCLA and UW to be the only chances the Cougs have at a conference victory this season, but with Tuel questionable, and many others injured, WSU may end the season worse than last year.