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March 6, 2011
The Cougar Lounge - Lost & Found
"It was my favorite game of the season because we were able to get a lot of guys some playing time."
- Wazzu baseball coach Donnie Marbut after Wazzu pounded Oklahoma State, 13-2, last week at the Dairy Queen Classic in Tucson.
"I have had a great experience working with the athletes and support staff and I am looking forward to watching the progress of this current team."
- Wazzu head volleyball coach Andrew Palileo, who unexpectedly resigned last week.
"I'm not telling my wife anything anymore - in case she blogs it."
- California head men's hoop coach Mike Montgomery after the Pac-10 reprimanded him last week for comments he made about Pac-10 officiating in a radio interview that were reported by a blog.
"This is not just supermarket sushi, as Melissa Leo might say - this is real f**king good sushi!"
- Actress and Academy Award co-host Anne Hathaway during a commercial break in last week's Oscar telecast, offering to personally deliver sushi to an audience member while making fun of best supporting actress Leo's memorable F-bomb dropping in her acceptance speech only minutes earlier.
After it was learned that Wazzu's sophomore point guard Reggie Moore and junior shooting guard and the Pac-10's leading scorer Klay Thompson would both not be playing - Moore due to injury and Thompson due to temporary stupidity that resulted in a drug citation and suspension - the Cougars' pulse for their regular season-ending men's hoop game against UCLA, a game which could have gone a long way in helping their Big Dance chances if they won it - was deemed to be impalpable. In fact, without two of their best players, it was so weak that it had some people predicting a blowout for the NCAA-bound Bruins. The Cougars - who started energetic walk-on Ben Loewen in his first-ever start in his brief Cougar career - responded by taking the Bruins out back to Butch's woodshed in the first half and thrashing them. Wazzu led by 13 points at the halftime break and had a chance to win the game in regulation but Faisal Aden's three-point attempt front-rimmed out and UCLA caught the gutty Cougars and captured the win in overtime. It was a bittersweet ending for the 9300+ in attendance and thousands more watching on television. Had the Cougars had the services of Moore and Thompson, the outcome most surely would have been different, but the Cougars played the game with who they had available and still nearly pulled off the victory with an incredible effort from all players on the court on Saturday along with a superb coaching effort from Wazzu men's hoop head coach Ken Bone and staff. What should have been, by all rights, a significant blowout, was, instead, a close game that went down to the wire and one which every genuine Wazzu fan and well-wisher will remember for its ability to exhibit what is at the core of being a Coug - a gritty, never-say-die attitude.
Meanwhile, March Madness is only days away now. Not weeks, but days! The excitement is building to the point where an explosion of joy and office brackets are imminent. In addition to the joy about March Madness being just around the corner, there is the additional joy that CBS and Turner Sports will be airing every single tournament game live and in its entirety. What does that mean, exactly? Well, let the Lounge tell you in no uncertain terms - it means happiness, no more wars or disease, food for everyone, the Earth stops being polluted and world peace! Well, okay, maybe not all that - but it does mean that for the first time ever, Big Dance viewers will not be subjected to CBS breaking away from a game they are watching to show the end of a game they do not want to watch - even if it is close! Also, it means those notorious first round shoulder games - you know, the ones which are played in the late afternoon in West Coast time but were rarely seen because CBS inexplicably decided to show soap operas or Dr. Phil or local news - will now also be shown live and in their entirety. That decision alone caused most West Coast-based March Madness fans and well wishers to faint dead away in disbelief, as they never believed it would happen in the more youthful years of their lifetimes.
The NCAA will be an extremely busy organization this week as, first they have to prepare to put on their annual Big Dance down at the gymnasium, then they have to figure out what sort of wrist-slapping they are going to administer to Oregon for paying a scouting service to provide them with information on a pair of running backs from Texas named LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk. Of course, to the naked eyeball, it reeks of kickback moolah as we all know that a big fancy organization with a lot of money, toys and an Uncle Phil would hardly need a two-bit "scouting service" to tell them anything they did not already know or could easily determine themselves through their network of flunkies. The Nikes claim that they did nothing against the current set of NCAA rules and any loopholes that may exist that they took advantage of are not their fault - especially if it resulted in them getting James and Seastrunk on campus.
After they are done with Oregon, the NCAA will have to figure out what they need to do about this persistent playoff idea for their top level of football now that the. organization's president has said he will help with a playoff once the school presidents of the big schools around the nation quit posturing about the money-losing bowl game system and begin earnestly wanting to make money - since NCAA is a business and that is all they care about these days - with a football playoff.
Meanwhile, the Pac-12 - we can call it that now for football - took their first positive step, albeit in a negative manner, by firing or "not renewing their contracts" in pretty language, 11 football officials - that is the good news. The bad news is that they also added 16 new officials and there will be no way to know if that is to be regarded as some sort of improvement until next year when those officials begin blowing calls and determining if the new officials blew less calls than the fired 11 officials.
All the Lounge knows is that the Pac-12 would be better off replacing all those officials with Watson - the 15 trillion-byte databanked IBM supercomputer that recently handily defeated two human opponents in the television game show Jeopardy - ensuring that if every call was not precisely correct, at least we would know that the Russian word for "goodbye" is cholesterol.
"I think they can still get in to the Big Dance without winning the Pac-10 tournament," says an optimistic Bongo Dean, about the Wazzu men's hoop team's Big Dance chances after a narrow OT loss to UCLA.
That is a commendable approach, Bongo, but realistic well, that may be a different story. Wazzu brought a 76 RPI into last week and proceeded to defeat a team they were supposed to defeat [80-RPI USC] and lost to a team they were supposed to lose to [35-RPI UCLA]. That they got close to winning against the Bruins will not, ultimately, factor into the equation for NCAA selection committee members who will only see another loss in the column. So that leaves Wazzu with a 19-11 overall record as they enter the Pac-10 tournament and a tournament-opening game against rival Washington, who they have already defeated twice. If Thompson and Moore return to play in the tourney, beating the slumping Huskies [who will likely have an RPI in the 50's tomorrow] will not do enough to bolster Wazzu's chances. If the Cougars defeated the Huskies a third time, they will have to face UCLA in Los Angeles in the semifinal - a definite Bruin advantage and the primarily inherent reason why the conference tournament should either not exist or should rotate to other venues for fairness - but a big jump in RPI will not come with it, as most likely, Wazzu will be in the 60s by this juncture. That is an RPI range which has never been awarded an at-large berth without winning a conference tournament. If the Cougars are somehow able to defeat the Huskies a third time and UCLA in their home city - facing them in the final will be Arizona, USC or California - teams which the Cougars are 2-4 against this year with both wins coming in Pullman. On top of that, the Cougars have yet to string together three consecutive wins over conference opponents this year - even when they had both Thompson and Moore. The most realistic post-season scenario for Wazzu is that they will win one or possibly two games in the Pac-10 tournament and - with a strong showing at Beasley this week, averaging 8200 in attendance for two games - host an NIT game. If that is the case, the Lounge would like to see the NCAA send Virginia to Pullman as that would be good game, make good television and have the potential to be a sellout. By next Sunday, all the mysteries will be revealed.
"I thought they would do better than that this year," says Stan Ford about the Wazzu women's hoop team's after their loss ensured another lower division conference finish.
Well, it looked promising there for a brief stretch of the season after Wazzu won their sixth conference game with a road win over California in mid-February and appeared to be on the verge of breaking into the upper tier of the conference. But it all fell apart in the last two weeks of the season as the Cougars lost their final five conference games to plummet to an eighth place regular season finish [or tie for seventh if the Huskies lose to USC today - but Washington has the tiebreaker, having swept the Cougars in the season series]. The Cougars have not finished fifth or better in conference play since 1991 and the poor finish this year means the Cougars will play fifth-place USC on Wednesday. Even if the Cougars should break their losing streak and win that game, their reward will be a date with Stanford, virtually ensuring another end to their season early in the conference tournament in the fourth season of Wazzu women's hoop head coach June Daugherty's seven-year contract.
At this time of the year, everybody wants to know who is going to be on the official list of the NCAA selection committee for the Big Dance, so naturally, finding out who is on the Big Dance list is extremely important. The Lounge already knows who made that list - and, there were no Cougars on it. So, without further ado, straight from the Lounge's breaking news department, here is the Big Dance List.
Finally, the Lounge Scientists have confirmed with a recent study what was, for the most part, known all along - humans tend follow the opinion of the masses and eventually that opinion morphs into their own opinion - call it the Lemming Principle [or alternatively, the BCS Taliban Principle]. Researchers recently concluded a study where they asked men to rate a series of photos which they were told had average ratings from a previous group when, in reality, the ratings were randomly generated by a computer [Watson, we suspect]. With this information, the men proceeded to rate the photos with similar ratings as those they thought had come from a previous group.
"We know that we adopt the beliefs and perceptions of people around us, but one of the big issues is whether conformity represents a true shift in opinion or just a little white lie," says Lounge Scientist #9, Jamil Zaki, a researcher at the Harvard University who, reportedly, said what he thought the other scientists in the lab have been saying all along.
The Lounge has just learned that Watson has determined that a popular paper towel brand pitched by a lumberjack is either Brawny or Jesus Christ - one of the two.
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