WSU is one game out of last place.
It’s way too early in the Pac-12 season to confidently speculate as to whether the Cougars are closer to the good news or bad. At the moment, though, you’d have to have some pretty rich crimson running through your veins to think it’s the former.
Keep in mind that the Pac-12 is one dreadful college basketball league in 2011-12. It’s for that reason alone you cannot conclude Washington State’s season is headed south, regardless of how awful the Cougars looked during their recent road trip to Utah and Colorado.
We’ve seen these Cougars play well at times this season. Perhaps not defensively, but they have had some moments. But for whatever reason – Faisal Aden’s balky shooting, the lack of bigs, Reggie Moore’s inconsistent play, coaches failing to get the players working in synch are among the clubhouse leaders – Washington State hasn’t shown up in conference play.
Washington State’s 1-3 start to Pac-12 play, frankly, is unacceptable. The loss at Colorado was foreseeable, but losing at Utah was a blight, and the school should have given a refund for anyone buying a ticket to watch that no-show against Oregon.
But again, it’s early. And there’s no better opportunity to get this season turned around than Sunday at Washington. The Cougars can spend a week of soul searching in preparation for what could be a season-changing win in Seattle. Hec Ed or Bank of America Arena or Alaska Airlines Arena or whatever the hell they’re currently calling UW’s home – ground currently owned by the mighty South Dakota State Jackrabbits – has recently been one of the toughest places to win a Pac-12 road game.
But as you might have noticed, Washington is having problems of its own this season. One team can get itself right Sunday. Might as well be the Cougars.
ON TAP THIS WEEK: The lone game for Washington State (9-7, 1-3) is 4 p.m. Sunday at Washington (9-6, 3-1). It will be televised on FSN.
As bad as the Huskies have been at times this year, there’s a decent chance they’ll have a piece of the Pac-12 lead with a win over WSU, as league frontrunner Colorado makes its two-game Bay Area road trip this week.
That is, if the Huskies can beat the Cougars. No team in recent years has had more success in disappointing the Montlake Mutts on their home floor than Washington State. Since the 2005-06 campaign, Washington is 103-17 at home … but just 2-4 against the Cougars. That includes last season, when Washington State handed the Huskies an 80-69 defeat in Seattle.
In that game, Washington acted as if it was playing South Dakota State. The Cougars crushed UW, holding the Huskies to 17 first-half points and leading by as many as 21 points after halftime.
This is a series Washington State has owned of late. Since 2006, the Cougars are 9-5 against Washington, which leads the overall series 172-100.
With two potential NBA first-round draft picks on its roster in Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, the Huskies are in the running for the Pac-12’s most disappointing team. Washington doesn’t have a notable win on its ledger; probably its best performances were home wins over Oregon State and Oregon during the opening weekend of Pac-12 play. And while UW has some good losses – Marquette, Duke and if we’re stretching, St. Louis – the Huskies also have had some horrific performances, like last week’s rout by Colorado, not to mention the gold standard, the 92-73 rump roasting by South Dakota State.
Wroten is one of the country’s most exciting freshmen, at least at the offensive end. Wroten is second in the Pac-12 in scoring (16.5 ppg), and third in steals (2.0 pg). Ross is among the league’s top 10 in scoring (14.3 ppg), and top 15 in rebounding (6.1 pg), 3-point shooting (1.73 pg) and blocked shots (1.07 pg).
For statistical extremes, Washington leads the Pac-12 in rebounding, but rank last in point allowed.
Read Nick Daschel’s occasional Pac-10 ramblings at twitter.com/nickdaschel