A trip to Pullman

Every time I drive down, I marvel that such a place can produce a Rose Bowl football team. Takes a lot of players to be good in football. Takes a few to be good in hoops.<P> [Note: This originally appeared on the Cat Tracks basketball message boards]

Yet, the Cougs excel in football.

You don't really know you're getting to Pullman till you're there. Crest one of those wheat mounds and ... pow! ... major university on a hill overlooking a small town.

If you've ever seen the ASU golf course, it gives you an idea of what the Pallouse looks like. A giant Pete Dye-designed golf course, with no trees and massive mounds.

The difficulty in getting there is offset by the ease of attending a game. We pulled into the parking lot nearest the arena. (We all know the court is called Friel, but how many know what the building is called?).

Parking was free. Several paces later, we're inside the arena ``buying'' tickets. I showed them my entertainment book coupon, and they gave me two tickets. No charge. No line there or at the concessions, by the way.

I saw a cluster of Cat fans dutifully sitting in their assigned nosebleed seats. Everybody else sat closer.

On the sides are bleachers, with eight rows. Need a student ID to sit there. Many students arrive just before tip-off and grab their courtside seats.

We sat eight rows up in the chairs. Imagine it's quite a pricey seat in Tucson.

It was a huge crowd for a Coug game, 4,400 or so. So, we are respected. There was about 1,500 for the ASU game.

The four fellas behind us were all choosing what the final spread would be. The guy with the worst pick had to buy the first round after the game. They all picked in the 20s.

So, we are respected.

As I posted elsewhere, candy bars were passed out, so Candygate wasn't all bad. My son got a free snack.

Midway through the first half, I was tempted to join the Cat fans in the nosebleed section. Not because I was getting razzed, but because it was painful to be that close to moribund basketball.

Iguodala was solid. He was the only one who could secure a volleyballed rebound or loose ball under the hoop.

Anderson seems like he's constructed with latches and hooks. Just a little contact and his body becomes unhinged. The arms flail, the legs splay. The rebound comes loose.

Walton had a very bad game. Just the worst I've ever seen him. Weird passes, poor shot selection, couldn't finish around the rim. He actually looked embarrassed, turning a reddish hue. It didn't help that Coug fans beneath the hoop were all over him.

But he was money down the stretch in a place we should've never needed it. Made a huge block when the game was tied. Made a super pass to Hassan, grabbed every rebound, made the free throws.

He is obviously hobbled. He even seemed to lean on the good leg when play stopped.

Salim is also hurting, and it was most obvious in the press. You can tell he hates to sprint forward to deny, because he doesn't want to jam on the brakes. His entry passes, like everyone's, were abysmal. But the man can shoot. If he missed one in warm-ups, I didn't see it.

At the end, Jason was hobbling, too. Seemed to twist something in that final scrum where he was called for traveling. Jason was solid in the first half, with clutch steals and breakaways. (He double dribbled on one of those, but the refs missed it).

But he gambled too much in the second half. Twice Jerry McNair made him pay with layups. Lute then switched Salim over to McNair and that was the end of that.

Props to Salim, he played through pain in shutting down McNair.

The big guys were collectively bad, with Frye being the best, though he carelessly threw away two inbounds passes. Anderson was not a factor, and continues to miss front ends. Nobody with his stroke should struggle from the line.

Fox and Latimore couldn't finish around the rim. It was especially telling because the Cougs have nobody as large as them.

Adams did some good things down the stretch, like moving without the ball and making two free throws with the game on the line.

Lute did a lot of coaching last night. He seemed really frustrated. In the press, he constantly had to tell people where they needed to be.

On offense, our entry passes were atrocious. Nobody threw a good one. Meantime, the lowly Cougs were making sweet entries to undersized guys and getting easy buckets. Fundamentals.

Nobody left the arena thinking, ``Wow, they're good!"

I left thinking, ``What if Marcus Moore played?''

Oh well, I got my money's worth.

[garyc participates on the Cat Tracks' messageboards and was kind enough to give us this great account of the game]

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