Coug fans need to pack Beasley on Saturday

FOR ALL THE Cougar fans who have given up on the basketball team, there's a very important reason to put on your walking shoes and get to Friel Court on Saturday for the final home game of the season. That reason is the Cougar football team. Mike Leach figures to have dozens of prospective football recruits in the stands as part of his program's junior day event.

Granted, it would be nice to fill the stands to give a nice send off to senior basketballers D.J. Shelton and Will DiIorio.


But for pure Machiavellian reasons, Cougar fans need to get out in force for the 8 p.m. tipoff with the Bruins because it will help the Cougar football team.

A quiet, sparsely filled arena is not going to impress any young prospect, even if it is for a sport other than the one he plans to play at the next level.

A good-sized, raucous throng of Cougar fans -- the type we're used to seeing on Saturdays in the fall and the type that once-upon-a-time filled Beasley Coliseum -- will leave a lasting impressing.

When asked how important, or not, a showing at a basketball game is to football recruiting, WSU assistant coach Paul Volero told CF.C on Monday, "The most impactful piece of the recruiting puzzle typically is the official visit, but there's no question every visit to campus is important. And to the degree we can show what a special place Washington State is, be it the spirit of our student body at a basketball game, or the excellence of our academic programs, that is key. So yes, we want our fans out showing their spirit on Saturday."

It's really just that simple.

RECRUITS TAKE NOTE of fan support. They notice the signs in the stands, including the ones with their names on 'em at basketball games during junior day events.

The NCAA frowned on such signage a few years ago and it was a big story for about week. But nothing ever really came of it.

And the NCAA these days is like a frightened turtle in the corner of the room trying to step up deregulation as fast as they can. They didn't say a peep this past football season when fans, at an ever-increasing pace, used signs to implore recruits visiting that weekend to choose their school.

For junior day events coming up at Pac-12 schools, it's a near certainty that well-organized student bodies will be packing the signs into the basketball games.

And if you think that doesn't stick in the mind of a recruit, you've forgotten what it's like to be a 17-year old.

There were 5,796 in attendance when WSU beat Washington back on Feb. 1. If the Cougs can draw that many (and hopefully more) against UCLA this Saturday, with full-throated support in abundance, it will help Leach's recruiting efforts.

And might even help the Cougs out on the floor.

PROSPECTS WITH WSU offers who are expected to attend the Cougs' junior day event include: Brett Rypien, Marvell Tell, D.J. Beavers, Mustafa Branch and Mason Tobeck among others.

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