At the beginning of every season, you guys are used to me hyping my Washington State Cougars Men’s Basketball team. However, by this time of the year, I’m usually left heartbroken with my squad pandering somewhere toward the bottom of the league. But where are my Cougs at right now? Are they continuing their historical run at perpetual mediocrity? Or do they actually have a legit shot at the NCAA Tournament? Here’s my mid-season look at WSU’s men’s hoops.
1. By the Numbers
It got really bad before it got good. After the Cougs opened the season 5-1, followed by a competitive two-point loss against No. 20 USC. WSU suddenly became a sneaky pick to shake some rattles in the Pac-12.
Unfortunately, after that, Washington State stayed true to form and started losing to small conference opponents. Some of these resume builders include South Dakota State, New Mexico State, and Boise State. They also lost to Eastern Washington earlier in the year.
The 5-2 record pivoted to 8-5, and suddenly WSU looked doomed for another season of inadequacy.
In the Pac-12 opener, the Cougs continued this trend falling to Colorado by five points.
But then something marvelous happened; WSU said “F” it.
In the seven outings since the loss to the Buffs, the Cougars are 6-1 in conference, including winners of five in a row.
And while the competition hasn’t proven elite, their defense has.
Since the loss to Colorado, Washington State hasn’t allowed more than 64 points in a contest, including three in which their opponent hasn’t eclipsed the 60-point mark.
As it currently stands, WSU is 14-7 (7-3) with a slim chance of making the NCAA Tournament.
2. Noah “No I’m Not” Williams
If you follow the Cougs, you know who Noah Williams is.
Last year Williams was WSU’s undeniable leader, even earning National Player of the Week honors after a combined 73 points against the Bay Area schools.
This season his offense looks like month-old tuna casserole with extra feta…
In the Cougars’ last two games against Stanford and Cal, he’s combined for three points.
That’s a 70-point difference from last year. 70.
And his offense may actually look worse than the statistics indicate. His jumper’s crusty, finger rolls awkward, and decision-making slow.
In his last six outings, he’s only scored in double figures two times, and both games were blowouts.
He would likely prove a benchwarmer if it weren’t for his remarkable defense.
And for those of you who think I’m hard on a college kid. Please don’t forget that he’s arguably the cockiest player in WSU history who’s continuously showed up his opponent throughout his career.
Noah, you’re still my favorite player, but right now, you’re a scrub.
3. Whats Next
As we enter the homestretch of the regular season, the Cougs still have everything to play for.
They currently sit on the bubble of NCAA Tournament projections, with a NET ranking of 36.
But this doesn’t mean they’re a lock for the tourney. They find themselves on the outskirts of the field because they haven’t defeated a team “in the top 75 of Monday’s NET rankings.”
They also have only played the top four teams in the conference one time.
But this is sure to change going forward; four out of their next five games are against the elite teams in the Pac. They still have to face Arizona, UCLA, USC, and Oregon.
I’m going to find out really quickly whether I’m using a sick day in March, don’t tell my boss.
But this is what it’s all about. For a program that hasn’t made a tourney in 14 years, there’s some ish to cheer for.
And it all starts tonight when WSU hosts No. 4 Arizona at 6:00 PM.
Isn’t it beautiful?