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January 26, 2011

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - It's Hoops Apple Cup Week!


This is a big week in Pullman. I am, of course, talking about the Taco Bell that left town many years ago returning! No, I'm not. Maybe. Hopefully it does return. Seriously, it was a pain to drive to Moscow whenever I needed my crappy and possibly more hazardous for my health than drinking a gallon of crude oil taco fix. I'm just asking the Taco Bell generation to help out future generations of Cougars; it's really a tragedy people have to drive those lonely eight miles across the Palouse just for tacos even most fly larva wouldn't eat.

But back to the big week in athletics. For basketball, it's all about the big week with Washington and awaiting the big Sunday night match-up. The best part about this game for both teams is this is really the first marquee game in the conference this season. Even though the game kind of gets buried on a Sunday night and on FSN, it nonetheless provides for the largest audience for both teams. This also provides the largest stage for Klay Thompson and Isaiah Thomas to show off their Player of the Year qualities. For the Cougars though, the concern should be growing larger and larger if Thompson continues to improve.

See, this is obviously a big week for basketball on the Palouse. Not only is it a rivalry, but as each game marches by we are getting closer to the possibility that Thompson may be leaving us at the end of the season. Honestly, I don't know what is running through the young man's mind at this juncture. We know he's certainly improved from last season. He's not buckling under the pressure of a conference schedule like he did last year so the NBA is certainly noticing him more and more. In all likelihood, in my incredibly unscientific analysis, this year's draft class is likely to be down since there aren't as many star players coming out of the college ranks. The only real headlining names that come to mind are Kyrie Irving (whose leaving whether he's hurt or not), BYU's Jimmer Fredette, Kentucky's Terrence Jones, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and a few others. Thompson has the potential to really be ahead of many of his potential draft classmates. At the end of the day, Thompson may choose to leave because the money is tempting and he could come back and hurt himself next year.



Then again, we can think about this another way. If Thompson returns, it's a virtual lock that he'll shatter the school's all time scoring record. If the team doesn't go to the tournament this year, next season would represent the final opportunity to cement his legacy at Washington State. What's worried me about his career is that we may remember Klay as the finest player to ever come to Pullman but he never made it to the Big Dance. And maybe that's has him worried as well. Plus, if Thompson's draft stock isn't high enough at the end of the season, he needs to stay to increase that.

I don't know which way Thompson is going to fall. If this team makes it to March Madness, I'd think it to be more likely that he'd leave for the Association. If they don't, and the league and the players union have problems coming to terms on the expiring collective bargaining agreement, Thompson would surely stay. All I know is, Wazzu head men's hoop coach Ken Bone hasn't made any secret about the fact that the chances to watch Thompson play are dwindling.

On a non-basketball note, Wazzu athletic director Bill Moos told Bud Withers of the Seattle Times that the school's Board of Regents will be voting to approve the construction of Phase III at Martin Stadium with additional funding for the football-only facility on the west end of the stadium. Moos said the project is expected to cost around 75 million George Washingtons and the university has about 17 million of that raised. My impression is this proposal wouldn't be going to the Regents if it wasn't already practically rubber-stamped. In fact, I get the impression the Regents are more likely to listen to a man with Moos' pedigree and loyalty to Washington State than they were to Jim Sterk, the former Wazzu athletic director who is now the AD at San Diego State. This project will do a lot to increase the athletic visibility of the university. Add that to the fact that Paul Allen, a man who merely attended WSU, just donated 25 millions dollars to fund a new animal research building, it might encourage other wealthy donors to open their checkbook; especially if the offer of a 10 million dollar donation to rename Martin Stadium is still on the table.

And don't forget National Letter of Intent day next Wednesday. But that's for agonizing over the loss of Bishop Sankey and worrying about the 2011 class next week. Plus, for all the worrying we do, I can guarantee the coaches watch the fax machine in Bohler like hawks all day.


PICKS:

Last Week: 6-3
Overall: 24-14

Oh goodie, a game of defense.

USC 47, Arizona State 43


YES! Offense in the Grand Canyon State!

Arizona 84, UCLA 78


Well, this should be a terrible game to watch.

Stanford 67, Oregon 55


Continuing with the trend of terrible games.

California 71, Oregon State 66


Man this week in basketball stinks. I'm not dignifying the Saturday games with witty repartee.

California 67, Oregon 53
Oregon State 71, Stanford 64
Arizona 76, USC 61
UCLA 81, Arizona State 60



Washington's really good guard play worries me. And they have big men that can be physical in the low post; which Washington State only has one of. The Cougars will get them back in February.

Washington 87, Washington State 78


Obscure Pick of the Week: It's an all Northeast who-gives-a-crap game!

New Hampshire 71, Vermont 68


Dunderhead of the Week: The guy I saw reading the newspaper while driving on the freeway. Yep. That's completely safe.

And, of course, John Buccigross.





+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++

The 2010-11 athletic season is here…and you know what that means…It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Men's hoop, women's hoop and baseball, just to name a few, are preparing for their 2010 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.


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