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November 16, 2011

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - Triple Threat


At times during the summer, it's difficult to find anything to talk about. No sports are going on once the College World Series is over and in July and August. It's the one time of the year when college athletics has nothing of interest really going on. That is unless you're swapping free stuff for tattoos at Ohio State. But for virtually every other institution in the NCAA, this period has less activity than Kim Kardashian's brain. So I'm very pleased that right now there's almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to things to talk about.


First, we give big ups to the Cougar soccer team for moving on in the NCAA Tournament and past a tough Kentucky team and even did it on the road. It took them some overtime and penalty kicks to do it but something tells me this is a team that thrives on stress. Wazzu head soccer coach Matt Potter has an incredible ability to exude a measure of calmness when his team is struggling or in a dire situation. And although, in my opinion, penalty kicks are a terrible way to decide a game (this coming from a goalie though), there's no doubt they are beyond stressful.

This Friday, the women take on the hated Virginia Cavaliers. And I say hated because Tony Bennett still has an office in their athletic office. So beat the Cavaliers ladies. And make us all proud by advancing further in the tournament than you ever have before.

On Monday, the greatest 24 hours in college athletics began. There's pretty much one thing ESPN has done right over the years and that's start the college basketball season off with over 24 straight hours of roundball. And the Cougs were featured in the day's first game against the Zags. The very hated and much disliked Zags who are one of the most bandwagoned and mediocre performing teams in the country. But that's just one man's opinion.

And in the first half and the early part of the second half I would've preferred if they weren't on national television. The defense looked lackadaisical on the perimeter and allowed a freshman to snipe from beyond the arc. As an aside, I'm coming for you Pangos. Anyway, the one thing I was very pleased with was the fact that they didn't give up. Down by 20, this team clawed back to within three at one point and although they didn't win, they showed they can play some inspired basketball. Perhaps more importantly, in their first game of the year in a hostile environment against a good team, they managed to get back in a game that seemed lost.

What this does for their confidence remains to be seen because a loss is still a loss obviously. And that stinks obviously. But we learned a lot about how dangerous this team is on the offensive end. They'll always be at a disadvantage in the low post because of their lack of size but they are dangerous on the perimeter. Plenty of work still to be done but there's a very distinct possibility this team would finish much better in conference than we thought.

And now, to the man of the hour: Connor Halliday. I think I can sum up his performance on Saturday against Arizona State by saying holy crap. The Sun Devils had a decent pass defense and Halliday absolutely shredded them to the tune of 494 yards for the second highest single game total in school history. Even better, he throttled Drew Bledsoe's freshman record by over 100 yards. And the most important thing of all is Washington State managed to beat a team people thought was a sure loss. Or at least I did.

But perhaps the most intriguing thing to come out of all this is the possible quarterback controversy. Now, there obviously isn't one right now because Tuel is hurt and Lobbestael is still, well, Lobbestael. But say Tuel gets his medical hardship waiver and is granted an extra year of eligibility. And let's say Halliday performs well over the next two games regardless of the outcome for the team. You've got the best problem a team can have: two quarterbacks that are good enough to legitimately compete for the starting job.

Now I'm not trying to say there is a controversy right now. If Tuel were healthy he'd be starting. And as any good scientist knows, we need more than one data point when it comes to analyzing how well an experiment has performed. So assuming Tuel gets his waiver, my assertion would be that he enters the season as the starter and the odds on favorite to retain his job as he should.


Nice problem to have isn't it? Two quarterbacks good enough to have the starting gig. How do we choose? Luckily it's not up to me. Also, a quick aside about Marshall Lobbestael. The guy was replaced two series into the Arizona State game - as part of the original plan from Wazzu head football coach Paul Wulff - and when Halliday threw the bomb to Wilson for an 85-yard touchdown, Lobbestael was the first one out to greet him with a hug and screaming his head off. You can say whatever you want about Lobster but there is one thing I will always be proud of him for and that's being a team player.


PICKS:

Last Week: 3-3
Overall: 57-20


This is a game I want no part of watching.

UCLA 31, Colorado 17


The Duel in the Desert! Don't forget, Arizona is bad!

Arizona State 34, Arizona 10


Something tells me Stanford is going to be a little angry that Oregon beat them. Look out Cal, it's a Luck train coming right for you!

Stanford 49, California 21


This is actually a dandy of a game. Lucky for the rest of us USC isn't bowl or conference championship eligible which concerns me greatly for next year.

Oregon 45, USC 28


The only advantage Oregon State has in this game is that Keith Price probably isn't playing.

Washington 38, Oregon State 21


The Cougars showed an awful lot of heart in beating Arizona State especially considering not many people thought they could. I just don't think they can do it two weeks in a row, especially against what should be a very small crowd at Martin Stadium. Unfortunately, it's the official bye bye to a bowl.

Utah 34, Washington State 24


Obscure Pick of the Week: Why are we spelling "center" the Canadian and British way?

Hampden-Sydney 17, Centre 9


Dunderhead of the Week: Sleeping in the middle of the day. I'm filling in for our morning news man this week and let's just say sleeping in the middle of the week isn't agreeing with me.

And, of course, John Buccigross.





+++++++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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