What The Franks Happened Last Week With Washington State Cougars Basketball?!?!

Somehow the Washington State Cougars Men’s Basketball team managed to sweep both Arizona schools in the desert.

This was so unlikely that if you dropped $100 on the Cougs in Vegas you would have walked away with $6,725 after the sweep. I’ll let you figure out the odds on that one. Furthermore, this is the first time any Pac-12 team has swept the AZ schools on the road since the 1994-95 season.

Before the AZ road-trip, WSU was 8-14 overall with a 1-8 record in conference. I’m still logically trying to wrap my head around last week’s outcomes, but here are a few takeaways from the games.

First off, Robert Franks has become one of the premier players in the Pac-12. Before last week’s games, it was easy to throw Franks in the category of someone who has to score on a bad team, but these stat lines prove otherwise.

Against Arizona State, he scored 34 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, had four blocks and collected four steals. This is by far the best performance of his career and proves that he may have some potential in the NBA. But the amazing thing about his game against ASU is that he backed it up against The University of Arizona.

Against U of A, he scored 31 points and grabbed eight rebounds all while shooting 11-of-17 from the field and shooting 7-of-9 from three-point land. These two performances earned him Pac-12 Player of the Week and NCAA.com National Player of the Week (awards).

Before this weekend he seemed like a longshot to make the NBA. However, these past two games have given scouts something to raise their eyebrows about.

That said, I still believe that his skill set will be best utilized in Europe and not the NBA. He does not have the speed or athleticism to play in the Association. Offensively, he could get by as a spot-up shooter, but defensively, his lack of athleticism will be exposed.

But all I am offering is an opinion; I am not the be all, end all to knowledge and I hope he proves me wrong.

However, and most importantly, he did garner himself attention this weekend and scouts at the minimum will keep him in the back of their minds. All you can ask for in life is a chance, and he may have earned himself a shot last weekend.

Another takeaway from the mysterious outcomes in the desert is that Ernie Kent did a good job coaching. Look, I hate Kent’s fast-paced, no defense brand of basketball. But where credit is due, credit is due.

Against ASU, it appeared as if he instructed the Cougs to foul any Sun Devil heading toward the basket. The Devils have struggled to shoot from the line all year and it continued to show in this game. In the first half, ASU shot 13-23 from the free-throw line, which helped WSU jump out to the lead.

Furthermore, the Devils missed their first 17 three-point attempts. This partially has to do with ASU having an off night, but whenever there are that many misses in a row, the defense deserves some credit.

He also switched the Cougs’ sad-boy zone to a man-to-man defensive scheme. The man-to-man was very impressive and actually resembled something…well, that looked like defense for the first time this season.

He also wasn’t afraid to switch up strategies in the midst of an ASU run. When the Devils started to close the gap on the Cougs, they switched to their sad-boy zone and it actually worked. This is one of the first times that one of his in-game decisions led to a favorable outcome and it was nice to see.

Against U of A, he employed much of the same strategy and it continued to work. The biggest takeaway from this game is that WSU effectively double-teamed the post.

The Cougs held Chase Jeter to 0-of-6 from the field, which is absolutely phenomenal. Jeter formerly was a top-10 prospect in the country and holding any player of this caliber without a bucket from the field speaks for itself.

In total, the Wildcats only scored 55 points in this game. The last time WSU held a team to this low of a scoring total was…honestly, I don’t even have a smart-ass comment for this one; plain and simple, it’s been a long time.  Arizona shot 19-of-60 from the field, which equates to about 32 percent. The man-to-man defense continued to work and it ultimately led to a victory for the Cougs.

Hats off, Ernie; good for you.

The last and arguably most important takeaway is that the Cougars have a future star player in Freshman CJ Elleby.

There isn’t necessarily anything that stands out about Elleby other than his awesome afro-type hairstyle. But in all seriousness, he just has that “it” factor that is impossible to explain. He isn’t the fastest, most explosive, best shooter, or great defender, but he continuously finds a way to get things done on the court.

Against ASU he was one assist away from a triple-double. His stat line read 10 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. This is impressive for any player, but to almost put up a triple-double as a Frosh is something special.

Against U of A, he was equally impressive, tallying 18 points and snatching eight rebounds. He also ignited the Cougs bench with two late second-half blocks that helped to seal the win against the Wildcats (stats only accounted for one block).

He has the opportunity to develop into an amazing Pac-12 player under the right guidance. So far, Ernie in his tenure has done a great job developing forwards and centers such as Josh Hawkinson, Conor Clifford, and Robert Franks. However, he has yet to develop a good guard.

The only guard who had shown any real potential before him is Malachi Flynn, and Flynn transferred to San Diego State University after last season. Kent developed solid guards at Oregon in Aaron Brooks and Luke Ridnour, so let’s hope he can finally do it at WSU.

For all intensive purposes Elleby could be considered a forward but due to his playmaking ability with the ball in his hands I consider him a guard. He feels like the only hope to turn around WSU’s drowning basketball program and hopefully that comes to fruition.

In terms of what these results mean for the Cougars this season, it really means nothing. Every dog has his day, and the Cougs’ “Days” were this past weekend.

Nevertheless, if they carry this momentum into Saturday’s clash against their cross-state rivals the Washington Huskies, they may actually have a chance to pull off the upset. If the Cougs beat the Dawgs, then we can start to address real positive change in the program.

But for all my WSU fans out there, let’s just enjoy last weekend and respect it for what it was. If anything, the basketball program and fans alike now have hope.

It may be a piece of hope smaller than a grain of sand, but it’s still hope, and it’s more than we’ve had in a long time.  

*References in article from Cougfan.com and Cougcenter.com.

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About Nick Bartlett 211 Articles
My name is Nick Bartlett, and I am a Senior Writer at SuperWestSports.com as well as a Senior Writer here at OregonSportsNews. My work has been featured in the Seattle PI, OregonLive, and various other publications. I've also served as a guest on Sirius XM radio as a "Pac-12 Football Insider" For business inquiries, you can reach me at - Email: NB206wsu@gmail.com Phone Number: 425-366-9711

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