IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER - WASHINGTON STATE BASKETBALLJust as drunks forget to pay their bills and put their shoes on in the morning, we have somehow missed the start of the college basketball season. Well, what would you rather focus on? The glory of a Rose Bowl run or another season with Ben on the Bubble?
But this is a double-duty blog, and today we make amends with a preview of your conference doormat, the Washington State.........................sorry, I nodded off there. The Cougars.
Coach Bennett installing the picket fence
Tony Bennett takes over for his father Dick in hoops-mad Eastern Washington, and figures to maintain the same dreary style that makes Ben Braun's offenses look exciting. Bennett inherits a veteran squad, though Coug fans were disappointed with Jimmy Chitwood (SF, Hickory HS) turned down a scholarship to play in Europe.
Good News: The Cougs return almost everyone from last year's squad. Their backcourt is pretty solid, led by junior SG Kyle Weaver (left) (8.6 ppg/4.0 apg) and PG Derrick Low (8.3 ppg/3.2 apg). Low was slowed with a broken foot last year and missed eight games. PF Robbie Cowgill is their top returning scorer (9.2 ppg/5.1 rpg) - tall (6'10") and thin (210 pounds), he has a hard time matching up on defense. Ivory Clark returns at SF - he averaged 18 minutes last season and had one of the higher shooting percentages on the team (.518). The Cougars figure to be a deep team with lots of conference experience in their nine-man rotation. Friel Court can be a difficult place to play, and the Cougs always win a few they shouldn't at home.
Bad News: As usual, Wazzu doesn't match up well with anyone. To keep scores down in the increasingly big and athletic Pac-10, the Cougs must shoot much better than last year, particularly from three-point range. I also wonder how they will match up inside- they will be tall, but unathletic and a little soft. Sophomore center Aron Baynes will need to really step up to limit second chances and help control tempo. Baynes is coming off ankle surgery, and both he and Low bear watching as the season unwinds. This is Bennett's first HC gig, though he has lots of experience for his young age (37 at the start of the season).
New faces: WSU brings in two intriguing 6'6" foreigners - Nikola Koprivica from Belgrade and Thomas Abercrombie from Auckland, NZ. Koprivica could provide needed range. Taylor Rochestie, a Tulane tranfser, will get into the rotation at point.
Prediction: 1oth place. The Cougs could finish anywhere from 7th to 10th. I see the latter, simply because the back half of the Pac is a lot better than it's been in previous years.