I can relive the rationale for you -- soft non-league schedule after the 76 Classic, Pac-12 looks weak -- but what's it matter now? The Cougs may need a soft non-league schedule and a weak Pac-12 just to get to 10 wins.
WSU was that bad in the 76 Classic.
Under Ken Bone, the Cougars have never played this poorly in a holiday tournament. In two previous tournaments (Diamond Head, Great Alaska), the Cougars were 5-1, with two finals appearances prior to this Thanksgiving turkey in Anaheim.
The most frightening statistic six games into this 2-4 season are turnovers. The Cougars are averaging 15.8 turnovers per game, ranking 241st in the country. It was borderline embarrassing at the 76 Classic, where WSU committed 22 against Oklahoma and 18 against New Mexico.
For a team that must rely on its guard play to get the job done, WSU cannot be sloppy with the ball. But three weeks into the season, these Cougars are careless. A high number of turnovers by itself isn't alarming if you're playing at a fast pace and forcing the opponent into more turnovers. But that hasn't been the case. Through six games, Cougar opponents are averaging 13.6 turnovers a game. WSU's turnover margin of minus-2 rates 254th in the country.
It's early, and the turnover numbers can rebound. But so far, it doesn't look like WSU does anything particularly well, except for a decent shooting percentage of .476.
AS FOR THE PLAYERS, this cannot continue to be the Faisal Aden show. Aden carried the Cougars in Anaheim, although Brock Motum did a fair amount of damage, too. But Reggie Moore has to do better and Marcus Capers can't completely disappear from the scoring sheet. Growing pains were expected from freshman DaVonté Lacy and sophomore D.J. Shelton, but Lacy has to contribute more than a collective shooting stat of 7-for-22 as he did in the 76 Classic.
The good news is WSU can get back to winning ways Wednesday with a home game against Grambling State. Then again, most people thought the same Sunday when the Cougars played UC Riverside.
So, we'll see.
The week ahead: Washington State (2-4) has two games during the upcoming week, both at home. After Grambling State, the Cougars play host to Eastern Washington on Saturday.
Getting back to .500 seems to be a must for WSU.
Grambling State is nothing more than a paid scrimmage. The Tigers (0-5) are awful, having lost each of their five games by at least 30 points. In its one home game, Grambling State lost to Oakland 75-45. In its most recent outing, Arkansas pummeled the Tigers 86-44.
Even in WSU's weakened state, this game should be over by halftime.
Eastern Washington (3-2) is a different story. This will not be a cakewalk, as the Eagles gave Gonzaga all it could handle in a 77-69 loss, and tested Oregon in a 73-65 defeat in Eugene. Eastern comes into Saturday's game having had played Idaho earlier in the week.
The Eagles are led by the three Cs: forward Collin Chiverton (17 points, 3.2 rebounds), guard Cliff Colimon (12.6 points, 5.4 assists) and forward Cliff Ederaine (12.6 points, 7.4 rebounds).
The Cougars are 53-11 all time against Eastern, but hasn't played the Eagles much in recent years. The Cougars have played the Eagles twice since 1998, winning 67-61 in 2009 and 68-41 in 2007.
Read Nick Daschel's occasional Pac-10 ramblings at twitter.com/nickdaschel
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