MR. ENERGY: MARCUS CAPERS
PULLMAN -- The thought of leaving Pullman brings tears to Marcus Capers’ eyes. No matter how far the Cougars go in the Pac-12 tournament, which they’ll kick off today at noon against Oregon State, or how far they might get in a possible post-season tourney, the senior guard knows all-too-well that his memorable ride is nearly done.
In a recent interview with Cougfan.com, Capers paused several times to reign in his emotions. Each time, he apologized -- an act, unnecessary as it was, that speaks in part to why the guy has become a huge fan favorite. He is as genuine as they come.
Today's game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will mark Capers’ 129th in a Cougar uniform. It will be his 103rd start.
“I really appreciate (Pullman),” Capers said. “You know I’m not from around here at all and people just accepted me. It’s people back home in Florida who don’t accept me like people do here. Even my family is thankful for that and they notice it when they come see me. I’m grateful for that and I always will be.”
Capers was recruited to WSU by Tony Bennett with the now-legendary scholarship slot that Taylor Rochestie gave back to the school in order to free up space so Capers could be signed.
That was in 2008, when Capers was part of a promising six-man freshman class.
Nowadays he’s the last man standing from that group. Nick Witherall, Michael Harthun and James Watson transferred, while Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto left a year early for the pros.
Capers, meanwhile, has become a Palouse fixture. And not just because he’s been a cornerstone of the starting lineup for three seasons. He has a winning personality off the court, and a high-energy presence on it that speaks to the hearts and souls of the Cougar Nation.
His tip-back dunks are emphatic. His defense is outstanding. His freestyle raps during post-game press conferences are truly unique.
And when the crowd at Friel Court needs some pumping, Capers is there to get the job done. He’s also known to bombard the ZZU CRU with high-fives after a Cougar victory.
This final campaign in crimson has been an uneven one for the Cougars, who are 15-15 overall (7-11 in Pac-12 play) and a 3 ½-point underdog today to an Oregon State team they’ve defeated twice this season.
There’s disappointment all around in the fact the Cougars didn’t do better this year. That’s especially tough on Capers and his fellow seniors -- Abe Lodwick, Charlie Enquist and Faisal Aden –- because this is the end of the college road. But there is satisfaction in the work they did as leaders.
“I feel like we’ve been positive for the most part and that’s something you really need from the old guys and I feel like we’ve done it the right way,” he said.
Regardless of how this week and/or next wind up for the Cougs, Capers knows how it will end, no matter if it’s a win or a loss
“It’s going to hit me, I don’t know when but it will,” Capers said. “I’m not much of a crier either but the relationship I have with everybody here and once everything winds down you tend to appreciate a lot of the stuff you took for granted.”
Pacific-12 Conference tournament
At Staples Center, Los Angeles
Game 1: No. 8 Washington State (15-15, 7-11) vs. No. 9 Oregon State (17-13, 7-11), 12:10 p.m., FSN
Game 2: No. 5 UCLA (18-13, 11-7) vs. No. 12 USC (6-25, 1-17), 2:40 p.m., FSN
Game 3: No. 7 Stanford (20-10, 10-8) vs. No. 10 Arizona State (10-20, 6-12), 6:10 p.m., FSN
Game 4: No. 6 Colorado (19-11, 11-7) vs. No. 11 Utah (6-24, 3-15), 8:40 p.m., FSN
Game 5: No. 8/9 vs. No. 1 Washington (21-9, 14-4), 12:10 p.m., FSN
Game 6: No. 5/12 vs. No. 4 Arizona (21-10, 12-6), 2:40 p.m., FSN
Game 7: No. 7/10 vs. No. 2 California (23-8, 13-5), 6:10 p.m., FSN
Game 8: No. 6/11 vs. No. 3 Oregon (22-8, 13-5), 8:40 p.m., FSN
Semifinal 1: 6:10 p.m., FSN
Semifinal 2: 8:40 p.m., FSN
Championship Game: 3:10 p.m., CBS