Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Washington State Cougars

1. A Dingo Ate your Jumper Allowing only 56 points per game (good for third in the nation) in 07-08, this version of the Cougars are one that stifles on the defensive end. And assembling this team of defensive aficionados was an interesting and far flung task for the Coaches Bennett. Not one player who stepped on the court for the Cougs this year resides in the Evergreen State. And only one current Washingtonian is listed on the active roster (freshman Charlie Ernquist). In fact the Cougars recruiting base ranges from Belgrade to Auckland, and everywhere in between. Part of this can be attributed to the basketball globetrotting past of Coach/Female Forbidden Fruit Fantasy, Tony Bennett. Bennett spent three years with the Charlotte Hornets, and then played and coached in New Zealand for the North Harbor Kings until 1998. His international connections have been key in building this team, "The further away we went, the better chance we had of getting someone" Said Bennett. This was basically the tactful way of saying "it's pretty hard to sell the middle of nowhere."


2. The Triforce. The team is built around seniors Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill. All three have been deemed to have a "intramural" look to them, but don't be fooled, they're all skilled ballers. Weaver is a sinewy 6-6 athlete who can play any position from the 1 to the 3. He leads the team in no offensive category, but contributes with feints through the lane, creating shots for teammates. But where Weaver gets his accolades is as a shutdown perimeter defender. Second in the Pac-10 in steals, he's become a Jay Bilas favorite, who rendered this wondrous nugget "he's not a shooter, but he's a winner." Talk on Jay: talk on. Low, the team's leading scorer and 3-time Hawaii High School Player of the Year, committed to WSU without ever seeing the campus. I could see this happening going from Pullman to Hawaii, but Hawaii to Pullman? That's how much Low trusted the Bennett's coaching philosophy. And last but not least fan favorite and Pac 10 Scholar athlete of the year, Robbie Cowgill. The laid-back Cowgill has been called a "glue-guy" and is always around the ball, creating opportunities with hustle. When WSU has a fever, it's usually cured by more Cowgill. Explore that space Robbie!

3. Basket-wha!? The Pullman sports landscape has been dominated over the years by the whiz of footballs flying through the air, as well as irrational thoughts of a Mike Price return. Due to this dominance of football, basketball has traditionally been the oft forgotten runt of men's revenue sports. In some respects it still is; currently the Cougars play their games in the "Beasley Performance Arts Coliseum" (which has banners to honor NIT appearances). To avoid being lumped in with trade shows and productions of Oklahoma, the Cougar basketball team plays its games on "Friel Court." Confusing. It's also hurts your reputation as a basketball school when your three most famous former players are a Gatorade commercial staple/MJ poster boy (Craig Ehlo), a mediocre rapper/former G-Unit member who got kicked out before ever playing a minute (The Game, who might in fact be working me into a diss track right now), and Florida Marlins lefty Mark Hendrickson, who was drafted into the NBA with the 76ers in the late 90's, and is now working as a human testament to the benefits of being able to throw a baseball left handed. But with every win against traditional Pac-10 powerhouses, and every report of Tony Bennett going to a bigger school for a much bigger salary, the student body seems to sense exactly how special this team is. — Brian Tesch

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