IF THE EARLY RETURNS are any indication, I'd say Kyle Weaver's off-season work on his long-range jumper paid off. The senior swingman is a multi-dimensional tour de force, but his three-point shooting has never been anything to write home about. Coming into this year, he connected on just 21 percent of his 89 career trey attempts. So far this season he's a perfect 4-for-4.
Weaver hit three of them at Boise State the other other day and one in the opener last week against Eastern Washington. The rest of his game hasn't changed, though. He's as steady as rain, averaging 31.5 minutes, 13 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3 steals per game. Those numbers figure to get a serious boost tonight when the Cougs take on a struggling Idaho team.
Based on the BSU and EWU games, it looks like 6-8 junior Caleb Forrest will pick up more of Ivory Clark's old minutes than 6-6 second-year freshman Thomas Abercrombie. Forrest played 29 minutes in the two games, while Abercrombie played 12 vs. Eastern but didn't see action in Boise.
While on the topic of playing time, Tony Bennett is sticking like clock work to his plan to bring along Nikola Koprivica slowly. The sophomore guard, back from a knee injury suffered late last season, played 14 minutes against EWU and 10 against BSU.
THREE THINGS STRUCK ME during last Saturday's Cougar football victory over Stanford. First was the tenacious work of 5-9, 170-pound senior corner Ryan Kensok on the opening kickoff. He came steaming down the right sidelines and was basically doubled team out of the play by a pair of Stanford players. But when Card return man Doug Baldwin went down at the 26, it was Kensok -- the Pride of Gonzaga Prep -- who made the tackle.
Second was the number of times the Cougar offense lined up in two tight end sets. I didn't keep track, but my guess is that it was around 50 percent of the snaps. Back during the Pat Beach days, I came to love the sight of a big ol'd hoss with hands rumbling down field with the ball. Watching all those receptions by the TEs -- Jed Collins with 10 and Ben Woodard with 3 -- was downright fun. The tally could have been bigger, as Devin Frischknecht was also open a couple of times but didn't get the ball thrown his way.
And finally, I was struck by what ensued on the Cougar sidelines after senior Charles Dillon's horrible case of butter fingers foiled his attempt to field a second-half kickoff. As he trotted off the field, nary a coach or player even made eye contact with him -- until, that is, he came upon his batterymate in the receiving corps, Brandon Gibson. The junior from Puyallup gave Dillon a couple of pats on the belly. On the next kickoff, by the way, coaches replaced Dillon with Gibson.
One other footnote to the game. I noticed that all the line coaches -- George Yarno, Mike Walker and Marty Long -- were dressed like they were expecting an Arctic blast. Big ol' coats and big ol' snow pants. The rest of the staff was in charcoal slacks and regular crimson jackets. So much for the tough guy image of the trench warrior types.
Speaking of Cougar coaches, after each of the Cougars' losses this season, the message boards were hopping. And one persistent topic was why WSU assistant coaches have three-year contracts instead of standard one-year deals. WSU introduced the three-year contracts during its string of 10-win seasons. Stability is perhaps a more valuable commodity in coaching than money. Three-year deals simply gave WSU a way -- in light of tight budgets -- to reward and retain staff. Makes sense to me.
WHEN THE COUGS CLOSE out the home season Saturday against Oregon State (3:30 kickoff; FSN TV coverage), legendary WSU public-address man Glenn Johnson won't be manning the mic. As the mayor of Pullman, he'll be out of town on official business. His replacement, however, is no slouch. It will be Dave Andrew, a 1976 WSU grad who earned the Alumni Achivement Award in 1997. He's a broadcasting sales executive in Longview who has done a ton of "moonlighting" behind the mic. He was seen in the press box last week shadowing Johnson. Reports that he was in the men's room at halftime bellowing TOUCHDOWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN COUGS, as well as NOOOOOOOO GAIN, have not been confirmed! Andrew will also handle tonght's basketball game at Beasley.
WSU BASEBALL COACH Donnie Marbut inked 10 prep seniors to letters of intent this week in the early signing period. Among his new recruits is Bryan Peterson out of West Valley High in Spokane. He was a first-team All-State outfielder and Louisville Slugger honorable mention All-America pick last season. But get this -- as a quarterback on the Eagles football team this fall, he broke six Spokane area passing records, including three held by some guy named Mark Rypien. Bryan's dad, Mike Peterson, played receiver for the Cougs in the early 1980s.
The third and final volume of the spectacular feature film "Legends of the Palouse" is now on sale. Producer Jeff McQuarrie will be selling them in the Field House before the WSU-OSU game and Jack Thompson will be there to sign copies. You can also order copies at LegendsOfThePalouse.com .