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October 17, 2008

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - All Hail The Hoop


Since the day of my birth, attending this school was a foregone conclusion. It was more of a sure thing than the changing of the season or Charlie Frye throwing an interception. When I was just a toddler, my pajamas were crimson and gray. Before I knew the name of the first president of these United States, I knew Jack Thompson's. Every year, the Apple Cup would roll around and my mom would hang a Cougar wind sock in the garage port that belonged to my dad…the Husky.


When I received my first car, it was as close to crimson and gray as the dealership could make it with Cougar plates. I knew of the proud football history of the school from the aforementioned Throwin' Samoan to Drew Bledsoe, Rueben Mayes, Ryan Leaf and Jason Hanson. When my first football game rolled around, I truly found out what it meant to be a Cougar and attend football with the greatest fans known to mankind.


That same year, basketball made an unprecedented run to the NCAA Tournament and with their upset of Gonzaga, I found another home in Friel Court.


The last time these two teams enjoyed similar success was when my godfather was in school at Pullman during the Carter administration. I knew that this was something truly special.


But then, something happened. Football started losing, last year losing big to USC, Arizona and Oregon, while basketball kept improving, drawing bigger crowds and going deeper into the NCAA Tournament. This year, football is on their way to what could be a one win season and basketball likely will head to the Big Dance once again.



What does this all mean? For the first time in my school history, Washington State University is a basketball school.


Before now, both teams either improved at the same time or football was astronomically better than basketball. But now, basketball seems to have an incredibly bright future. They started a rebuilding process by hiring Dick Bennett and his son, Tony Bennett. After Dick built a solid base, Tony took over and led the team to unheralded success and looks to have brought in another round of highly talented young players.


Paul Wulff has quite the task ahead of him. A leftover from the Bill Doba era and even the Mike Price years, his team lacks significant discipline. Numerous players have been arrested for various crimes and as a result, the school has lost scholarships. Doba's lack of recruiting before his departure left Wulff in the position of trying to fill a roster in a short period of time after he was hired. His team's morale is as low as ever after losing conference games by incredible margins.


The students aren't coming to games in the droves that they used to (which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone). Worse than that, just from looking across the stadium at the alumni, there are more and more empty seats. I don't seem to have that problem in Beasley Coliseum.


Paul Wulff will get the football team back to where it should be, but it is going to take some time, probably a significant chunk of years.


So for the first time, men's basketball is the toast of the Palouse. Expectations are high and the team is looking for another trip to the postseason. The coaches and players are the biggest celebrities on this side of the state. The lines outside Beasley of students waiting for games will only get longer.


It will take some time for football to get back to where it was. In the interim, enjoy the success the school is now having on the hardwood. If the history of this university's sports teams is any indicator, it won't last forever.


Although we can certainly hope so.



PICKS:


Forgot to give the record last week! I'm feeling as forgetful as a goldfish.

Last Two Weeks: 8-1
Overall: 32-8

Man the Bruins really stink. And the Cardinal narrowly defeated Arizona. And my mom lives near Stanford meaning the people of the surrounding area are more pleasant when they win.

The Color Red 27, Tricky Rick's Bears 10


Cal is up and coming. A loss in this game could devastate Arizona's bowl chance and Mike Stoops job security. Oh well, his brother has a cush job at Oklahoma, he can probably get a job with him.

More Bears, This Time Golden 34, Na Na Na…Na Na Na…Hey Hey Hey…Goodbye 17


This is the only opportunity the rest of the month Washington has to win. Too bad for the Huskies their running defense is almost as bad as their in-state rivals and Jacquizz Rodgers is quite the shifty little runner.

The Symbol of Canada 45, Our Fans Still Think Don James Is the Coach 5


And now, your Cougar picks for the week

USC 67, Washington State 3 says the man who will one day likely own a facility called the Tri-Cities Thunder Dome Peter Shupe.


USC 56, Washington State 2 says East Valley High (sounds like a high school from a 1950s movie with John Travolta) graduate Elise Olk


USC 72, Washington State 3 says the Park Bench's distinguished history professor who wishes to remain nameless should Jim Sterk find him and hunt him down.


There is just no way for this game to end with less than 50 points showing up on the visitor's side. The only real solace in this game will likely be the fact that Cougars will continue their streak of not being held scoreless.

University of Southern California 68, Washington State 13


Obscure Pick of the Week! Never heard of one of these schools but I've heard of the other one in passing. I know it's not too obscure but who do you think I am, Gregg Easterbrook?


Prairie View A&M Panthers 42, Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions, 10.


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