January 16, 2007

Worker Bees

The Cougars' men's basketball team contributed to a charitable cause last week in the Bay Area - grudgingly giving up a late three-point bucket to Stanford so that they can make a sacrifice to the Pac-10 gods who demand a few road losses every year. The loss coupled with a previous win over California in Berkeley put Wazzu at 15-3 overall and dropped them into a second-place tie with Arizona at 4-2 in conference. The split actually moved the Cougars up one spot in one national poll to #21 but dropped them to 26th in another while their all-important RPI stayed in the low 20s coming into this week's rivalry game against Washington in Pullman.

Tony Bennett, the head coach of Washington State University knows there is no wiggle room to relax now that they have returned to Pullman for the Apple Cup game against the Huskies who have problems of their own coming in at 1-5 in conference play. The games will only get tougher the closer they get to potential NCAA Big Dance eligibility.

"Their record is not great but they've been in every game," says Bennett of the deceiving Huskies. "They have tremendous talent and they're going to be hungry to play because they've lost some real close ones."

Bennett and the Cougars are familiar with that feeling - having had three years' worth of losing close ones and having already lost two close ones in Pac-10 play to date - by three points apiece to UCLA and Stanford on the road.

"You're going to have to come and play good basketball. You'd better be ready to play against their offensive ability," warns Bennett.

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