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November 9, 2011

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - The New Wazzu Dynasty


Ah, college football. It's a beautiful game really. Many players athleticism is beyond even my fathomable thoughts as everything must be done so precisely. Especially when points can tend to be few and far between. But what's more important is that on any given day, the underdog can walk off the pitch and emerge victorious over the big bad foe.

By the way, I wasn't talking about football. We'll get to that in a little while because there really isn't too much to be said that hasn't been said already at this point. Rather, we have an awfully good football, er, soccer team to be proud of. This is the third time in the last four years this team has made it to the postseason and it all comes down to one person: head coach Matt Potter.

I don't think it's possible to say enough about how much good work Potter has done with Washington State soccer over nearly the last decade. This program has seen unheralded success during his tenure. He demands an awful lot of his players but the rewards are very clear. After a brief hiccup last year after losing a number of key seniors like Kiersten Dallstream and Carly Dobratz, the squad is right back where they should be.


But perhaps the best part about Potter, at least from a media perspective, is how personable he is. During the Cougars' nationally televised match against Washington last week, when asked about looking towards the NCAA Tournament, Potter responded, "What's that? I'm not familiar with…" and began laughing then gave the standard answer of not looking ahead. But it's that comment before that he made with a smile on his face that really tells you all you need to know about Potter. He'll joke with officials (when he's not mad at them), he'll joke with opposing coaches. At least from my perspective, Potter tries to keep everything loosey goosey and keep any potential tension down.

Potter was probably my favorite coach to talk to at Washington State, followed very closely by Wazzu women's hoop head coach June Daugherty (more on her in a bit). Potter was always happy to talk to you. It helps of course, that his team was really good to. And they'll have to prove it again this weekend against Kentucky all the way out in Lexington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Now, speaking of other really personable coaches, Daugherty got exactly what she deserved today: an extension. Wazzu athletic director Bill Moos, making another excellent decision, has given Daugherty the keys to the women's basketball bus for another five years. Even though the team hasn't been performing to the level Daugherty might like just yet, we know her coaching pedigree means the team will get there very soon. When Daugherty got here, they haven't had a winning season in a decade and a half. Add Daugherty's hatred for the University of Washington after her unwarranted firing (worked out well for us though!) and she wants to make Washington State the most respected program, not just in Washington, but the region.

And I think she will do that. There's no doubt in listening to Daugherty speak that the intensity, despite going through four straight losing seasons, is still there. She's desperate for this team to improve. And they will get there. The recruiting classes have been improving steadily and although Daugherty would be the first to admit this team has a lot to improve on (most notably the free throw shooting) they aren't that far away. And this year might be the year they break their over a decade long losing streak to Washington, most of which Daugherty herself is responsible for.

Oh, right football. Nothing like losing to a really and truly mediocre team on the road in the middle of a season where you need to improve enough to get into a bowl game to bring back the alumni supporters! The sarcasm here should be well noted. At this point, it will take a clean sweep of the final three teams on the schedule to keep Wulff and his crew on for another year and rightfully so. I don't care what a former coach who supposedly knows more than me spouts about on sports radio, Wulff will be out of work with just one more loss this year. And against Arizona State, Utah and Washington, the chances of going 3-0 with the team as currently constructed are precisely one in five billion. An upset of Arizona State though would leave this team riding high into Utah and a win there would certainly make the coaching situation very cloudy.

Either way, just win this weekend fellas. My dad is going over to visit my sister and he'd actually like to see a win if it's going to rain and be bone chillingly cold.


PICKS:

Last Week: 3-3
Overall: 54-17


Now THIS is the worst game in the South portion of the Pac-12 conference all year.

Arizona 41, Colorado 17


No wait, this might be the worst.

California 21, Oregon State 17


Wow. We go from those two snoozers to this. Wow. Uh, who else won't be changing the channel even in the event of an earthquake?

Stanford 35, Oregon 31


A national TV game and the Washington coach thinks Matt Barkley is better than Luck? Yikes! Sark has gone off the deep end.

USC 31, Washington 24


A surprise upset of Arizona State just doesn't carry over to the Wasatch.

Utah 27, UCLA 14


You know that really good and vicious linebacker Vontaze Burfict? Yeah, he plays for ASU.

Arizona State 38, Washington State 20


Obscure Pick of the Week: It's an entire religion versus a city. This doesn't go well for the poor folks in Greensboro.

Methodist 17, Greensboro 9


Dunderhead of the Week: ESPN for all the constant wall to wall Tebow coverage. Forgot to mention them last week but it was so bad, it bears mentioning even now.

And, of course, John Buccigross (how convenient his employer is directly above him!)





+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++

The 2011-12 athletic season is here…and you know what that means…It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Football, soccer and volleyball, just to name a few, are playing their 2011 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.


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