Well the pre-conference schedule is over for the WSU Cougars and they are undefeated and ranked #4 in the country. First, let's reflect on how unbelievable that sentance is. WSU has flirted with success in basketball in the past, with teams that have been #2 to UCLA in the Pac-10. But never, repeat NEVER have the Cougs been expected to excel at a national level until 2007-08. So is the non-conference schedule any clue as to how they will handle expectations? Well yes. And the answer is, this team is OK with winning.
What do I mean by that? There has been enough adversity in the non-conference schedule to prove that the Cougs are for real. Will they win the NCAA Tournament? Probably not. But, do they have a legit shot at the title? I think yes.
The games against Baylor and Gonzaga really showed the medal of this Cougar team. First, at Baylor, the Bears took it to the Cougs on their home court all game long. I watched the game live and had the feeling that Baylor was in charge the whole time....until the last few minutes. The Cougs, obviously playing a subpar game, never gave up. In the end, they took control of the game and won a game that they had no business winning. And before we say "it's only Baylor" you have to know that Baylor has only lost one game, to WSU.
Gonzaga is the other game of note for WSU. The game was at Gonzaga's new arena, where they had only lost once in about 50 games. The Cougs came into a hostile arena for the second game in a row (this game followed the game at Baylor) and absolutely handled Gonzaga. Watching this game, it felt like the Cougs were in control all the way.
Then you look at the rest of the non-conference schedule. It was weak. 10 patsies. However, the Cougs were perfect against the teams they should have beaten. In fact, each of those games were blowouts, save the game against Boise State. And that game proves the medal of the Cougs as they were behind by double digits and came back to win on Boise State's home court.
So how will they do agains the Pac-10? That is for the next blog.
December 29, 2007