Cougs vs Waves in “Pillowfight in Seattle”
By Bert Klasey
Am I going to do it? In the midst of the greatest four weeks in Cougar Athletic Department history, am I really going to take the time to complain about something that they’re doing wrong?
Yes, I am.
I’m sorry, I know that this is a time to be thankful, and most certainly a time to be bowing down at the feet of our beloved AD, but this Cougar Hardwood Classic has got me going a little crazy.
For the umpteenth time in a row, there’s been a “Battle In Seattle” featuring Gonzaga and a really good team playing in the Key Arena. This battle has come with great coverage of the event both nationally and locally. The big-name opponent typically entices a big crowd and a national network to televise the event (this year, it was CBS).
And then, there’s what WSU does.
For the past seven years, the Cougs have played a bunch of terrible teams. Granted, they did play LSU one season and it wasn’t their fault that the Tigers turned out to be pretty pitiful that year, but aside from that, we’ve been treated to such formidable foes as The Citadel, Montana State, San Diego State (way before they were good), Portland and Utah.
I’m wondering what the tough sell is here? Programs really don’t want to come to Seattle to play the Cougs? Last I checked, we’re a Pac-12 program, so it’s not a game where it’s embarrassing to come and lose if the Cougs pull out a win. It’s also a game in Seattle, which is of course in the far corner of the country, but not exactly as tough to get to as Pullman or Spokane.
So what’s the deal? How about an opponent we actually WANT to see?
This year, there will be (I’m guessing) around 12,000 fans actually in the seats and about 11,000 will have come just to hear Mike Leach speak at halftime.
That’s not to say that the Cougs don’t have a decent team this year. They actually do. They’ll be a tough team to beat come conference play. They are fun to watch and score a lot of points and have some great players in Brock Motum and DaVonte Lacy.
But Pepperdine? Really?
I mean, it’s great that the Waves made the trip up to the land of the perpetual winter darkness from “The ‘Bu” (that’s “Malibu,” for those who aren’t hip to the slang), but it’s not going to compel a lot of fans to give up their holiday shopping to come see the game.If we’re going to schedule a mid-major with not a lot of name recognition, why not just sign Seattle U? The Redhawks would actually bring some fans and make this a fun game to talk about. While we’re on that topic, why are they not on the schedule annually anyway? Last I heard, having a WSU presence in Seattle is important so having another opportunity to play here or against the home-town team here would likely be a good thing.
Okay, back to Pepperdine – here’s what you need to know. The Waves are 6-4 on the year and are not exactly an offensive juggernaut. Their 61.2 points per game puts them at 305th in the nation. Their .392 shooting percentage ranks even lower, at 309th. They are led by senior forward Taylor Darby (6-8, 230) who scores 12 points and pulls down 6.7 rebounds per game. Joining him on the front line is senior Center Corbin Moore (6-10, 235) who leads the team in rebounding with 8.3 per game and adds 10.2 points.
The Cougs, for all you west-siders not paying attention, are led by Faisal Aden, who is scoring 15.1 points per game. Aden has been out with an injury as of late, but got a few minutes in the game against Western Oregon and should bring his shooting prowess to Key Arena. Junior forward Brock Motum is just behind Aden in the scoring category, with 14.5 points per game and also leads the team in rebounding at 6.5 per outing.
The player that you’ll want to keep your eyes on, though, is true freshman DaVonte Lacy. Lacy is averaging 8.8 points per game in 25.3 minutes – both impressive numbers for a true frosh. You’ll also notice that he doesn’t look like a freshman, both in physicality and in poise. Keep your eyes on No. 3, you won’t be disappointed.
A couple of notes about the game
Mike Leach will be in attendance!
The game begins at 7pm on Thursday – I’d suggest arriving early if you’re going to Will-Call to pick up your tickets as there always seems to be a big line.
There is no TV for this game.
Tickets are still available by going to the official Cougar Hardwood Classic site at www.cougarsinseattle.com .
The Cougs and Waves are 2-2 all-time., but he Cougs are undefeated in the Cougar Hardwood Classic.