Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cougs Enter Pac-10 Play

Unless you've been under a rock for the past month or so, you've taken notice to the Cougs' 10-2 start to the basketball season.

Led by super sophomore Klay Thompson (third in the country with 25.0 ppg), the Cougs are proving those wrong who picked the young team to finish eighth in the Pac-10.

Who would've thought that Reggie Moore would be as great as he has been so far. Or that DeAngelo Casto would continue to develop his offensive game to match his tenacity on defense.

Now I'd be lying if I told you I had an inkling the Cougs would have the record they have so far heading into conference play, but I'm not lying when I tell you the Cougs actually have a shot to win their first Pac-10 title since the 1940-41 season. At least one guy at ESPN feels the same way.

Some may point to the Pac-10 being weaker than it has been in the past few years, but others will point to how well the Cougs have taken to new coach Ken Bone's up-tempo offense. The Cougs are averaging 80.2 ppg, while only giving up 68.4 ppg. They lead the conference in free throw percentage(73.4), field goal percentage(49.8) and shooting from three point land (42.3).

From the games that I've seen, the biggest bug-a-boo for me was how the Cougs seemed to be a terrible rebounding team. Upon further review it actually hasn't been that bad. Wazzu ranks fifth in the Pac in rebounding margin with a +5.6.

The Cougs showed they could hang with a ranked team (Gonzaga) for 30 plus minutes in a hostile environment. What remains to be seen is how these youngsters respond to having to travel to Hec Ed Pavillion, or face the likes of players like Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher. The upgrade in competition is another thing to consider. Playing San Diego and Alaska-Anchorage is one thing, but facing Pac-10 favorites Washington and Cal is another.

It's obvious the Pac-10 is down this year, but if Washington State can continue to play at the same level it's played at during its out-of-conference schedule, Coug fans can prepare for the school's third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Intramural Flag Football Begins Playoffs

Undefeated Cougs Head to Spokane

The 6-0 Cougars travel to McCarthey Athletic Center tonight to face a red-hot Gonzaga team.

The Cougs' undefeated record has been belittled by some who claim that Washington State has yet to face a serious opponent. After tonight, the critics will either shut up or say, "I told you so," as the Cougs take on the No. 17 Bulldogs at Gonzaga.

The Zags (5-1) suffered their only loss this season at Michigan State against the then No. 2 Spartans, and that game came down to only 4 points. Although the Zags lost three of their best players last season (Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo, and Austin Daye), the Bulldogs have proven that they are still a Top 25 team.

The Zags average 77.3 points per game, giving up 66 points. Senior guard Matt Bouldin is leading the team with 16.2 points with six rebounds per game. Steven Gray and Robert Sacre are right behind him with 15.8 and 14.3 points respectively.

The Cougs, on the other hand, are not the "Bennett Ball" team that they were last year. So far this season, the Cougars average 84.7 points per game, giving up only 65 points. Sophomore guard Klay Thompson is leading the nation in scoring with 28.3 points per game. However, true freshman Reggie Moore has certainly been doing his part with 13.5 points, and sophomore forward DeAngelo Casto is as solid as ever with 12.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

After the Cougs ran over San Diego 93-56 to win the Great Alaska Shootout, they received a few votes for a top 25 ranking. A win against Gonzaga would definitely earn them a spot. However, their challenge to stay undefeated will not end in Spokane, as the Cougs' next three opponents hold a combined 15-3 record.

The game tonight starts at 6 p.m. and will be televised on FSN.