WSU HOOPS: 20 reasons for hope..and caution

'TIS THE SEASON to be jolly… unless you're trying to get an accurate read on the Washington State basketball team. In that case, too much holiday eggnog might be the only thing that gives you a bigger headache. Consider these 20 reasons for hope, and 20 reasons for caution:

1. The Cougars are 8-4 … but their strength of schedule is 298th among the 347 NCAA Division I teams, according to the Pomeroy Ratings.

2. The Cougars are 8-0 against teams that currently have .500 or losing records (31-64 cumulative) … but they're 0-4 against teams with winning records (36-10).

3. The Cougars lead the Pac-12 in points allowed per game (56.5) … but they're 11th in points scored per game (63.2).

4. The Cougars rank second in the Pac-12 in field-goal shooting percentage defense (37.3) … but they're 10th in field-goal shooting percentage (42.2).

5. The Cougars are 8-1 at home (counting the Seattle game) … but they're 0-3 on the road (including their only game on a rival campus).

6. The Cougars lost by two points to then-No. 10 Gonzaga … but they lost by 27 to then-No. 12 Kansas, the only other Top 25 team they've faced.

7. The Cougars are the highest-ranked team in the state in the Pomeroy Ratings (No. 90) … but the highest current team they've beaten is No. 145 Fresno State.

8. The Cougars are plus-50 in rebounds … but they're minus-8 in turnovers.

9. The Cougars are plus-24 in assists … but they're minus-26 in steals.

10. The Cougars hold opponents to 33.3 percent shooting on 3-pointers … but they sink only 33.2 percent of their own 3-pointers.

11. The Cougars have a big-time scorer in Brock Motum (19.9 points per game) … but Royce Woolridge leads the team in assists with just 2.7 per game.

12. The Cougars have one starter (Motum) shooting 50 percent from the field … but the rest of the team shoots 41.8 percent.

13. The Cougars have a sophomore transfer (Woolridge) averaging 7.6 points … but the team's six other newcomers have combined for 41 points in 12 games.

14. The Cougars have given up more than 70 points only two times … but they've scored more than 70 points only three times (just once since the second game).

15. The Cougars drew 7,269 for their annual "home" game in Seattle … but they've drawn more than that only once in Pullman (9,367 for Gonzaga).

16. The Cougars should extend their winning streak to four with a Saturday win over 1-9 Idaho State … but the Bengals are ranked 329th in the Pomeroy Ratings.

17. The Cougars have posted a winning record six straight years … but they've finished more than one game above .500 only once in the past four years.

18. The Cougars open Pac-12 play at home Jan. 5 against Washington … but they've lost three in a row to the Huskies, and seven of the past nine.

19. The Cougars have never had a losing season under fourth-year coach Ken Bone … but they've never had a winning conference season under Bone.

20. The Cougars will start Pac-12 play with an 0-0 conference record … but they haven't won a conference championship since 1940-41.

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