A RUNNING LIST of news, notes, quips and quotes from in and around the Cougar Nation. Updated regularly.
BASEBALL: COUGS GET DRUBBED BY MISSOURI STATE
The Cougs were blanked 12-0 by Missouri State on Sunday. With the loss the Cougars fell to 1-2 on the season while the Bears improved to 3-0. WSU starter Joe Pistorese suffered the loss and only went 1 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs on four hits while walking one. He was one of six Cougar pitchers on the afternoon that allowed 12 runs on 13 hits, all singles, and nine walks. Cougar pitchers struck out eight. WSU managed only two singles on the day, one each by P.J. Jones and Ian Sagdal.
“We got exposed today by a good veteran team,” said Donnie Marbut. “If we have the character I think we have we will bounce back and play much better tomorrow.”
The Cougars conclude their four-game Texas swing with a single game at Stephen F. Austin Monday at 4:30 p.m. PT (no TV, no video stream).
FORMER WSU COACH GEORGE RAVELING ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME
George Raveling was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2015, it was announced Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Raveling was a "direct elect" and will enter the hall as a "contributor."
Raveling, at Washington State from 1972-83, was the first black coach in the Pac-8 (now the Pac-12). He resurrected the Cougar program with players like Edgar Jeffries of Youngstown, Steve Puidokas of Chicago, Norton Barnhill of Winston-Salem, Greg Johnson of Saginaw, Ken Jones of Detroit, Mary Giovacchini of Salt Lake and JC transfers Harold Rhodes of Florence, Ala., and Ron Davis of Phoenix, Cougfan.com contributor Nick Daschel noted in an article from the CF.C archives.
He then put the program into overdrive with the likes of Don Collins of Toledo, Stuart House of Detroit, John Preston of Pontiac, Bryan Pollard of Detroit and JC transfers Bryan Rison of Flint and Craig Ehlo of Lubbock. Terry Kelly (Spokane) and Aaron Haskins (Tacoma) were his major contributors from the state of Washington, while James Donaldson (Sacramento), Steve Harriel (Compton) and Guy Williams (Oakland by way of USF) were his most notable catches from California.
Raveling is the current Director of International Basketball for Nike. The story of how he came into possession of the original copy of the Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” speech has been often told, on Cougfan.com and by other media. Here's a great read on it from Sports Illustrated in case you missed it earlier this year: Click here.
BASEBALL: COUGS EVEN RECORD AT 1-1
Washington State settled the issue late in an 8-2 over Texas-Arlington at the SFA Tiptop Ford Classic on Saturday. After falling behind early, Wes Hatten drove in a pair to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead. WSU later plated four runs in the eighth inning to seal the win.
Hatten was 3 of 5 on the day and drove in three runs. Freshman Tyler McDowell (1-0) picked up his first win in a Cougars uniform going 1 2/3 innings, striking out one and allowing two walks. Starting pitcher Jesse Houser threw two innings, allowing one run, giving up two hits while striking out one and walking four. Catcher P.J. Jones went 3 of 4 at the plate.
KLAY THOMPSON AMONG FAVORITES TO WIN 3-POINT CONTEST
Las Vegas gives long odds on Klay Thompson winning Most Valuable Player honors in his first NBA All-Star Game, but oddsmakers at Bovada.lv give the former Washington State standout a decent shot at winning the 3-point shooting contest on All-Star Weekend. Thompson, who holds WSU records for 3-pointers in a season (98) and career (242), is given 15/4 odds on winning the 3-point contest Saturday in Brooklyn, the third-highest odds. Thompson has the ninth-best odds at 16/1 of winning the MVP.
TNT coverage both nights begins at 5:30. The 3-point contest is part of the skills competition on Saturday. Thompson, who replaces the injured Kobe Bryant in the Western Conference starting lineup Sunday, is set to become the second former WSU player in the All-Star Game and the first to ever start. James Donaldson was a reserve in 1988. -- Howie Stalwick
OL' COUG ROCHESTIE IN RUSSIA: IT'S PRACTICALLY A HEAT WAVE
In his second season with Nizhny Novgorad, Taylor Rochestie again has his team vying for the championship of Russia’s top pro league, the VTB United League. He also continues to inform and entertain his fans with regular messages on Twitter and Instagram. One recent tweet reads: I'm officially Russian, when its 0 degrees outside and I'm thinking, "hey, not so bad out here today."
Rochestie occasionally tweets to WSU fans and/or current and former players (Two words...... GO COUGS!). He also provides inspiration (Wake up each day with the desire to be the best); social commentary (No smoking signs in Russia are simply a “suggestion”); and game reports (Sorry to the home fans for my actions tonight. Should never resort to violence. And to the #fenerbache club and players. #oneteam). That last one naturally begs the question, what happened? An unnecessary push
On the court, Rochestie leads Nizhny Novgorad in league play with 17.8 points and 5.4 assists per game. He also ranks first on the team with 45.3 percent shooting on 3-pointers and 93.8 percent shooting at the free-throw line. Nizhny Novgorad is 15-3 and in third place, one game behind perennial power CKSA. Nizhny Novgorad lost to CKSA in the United League finals last season, Rochestie’s first in Russia. -- Howie Stalwick
COUGGALS EXTEND LOSING SKID IN BLOWOUT AT COLORADO
WSU's Lia Galdeira, one of the most prolific scorers in the Pac-12, was ice-cold for much of the night as the Cougar women's basketball team fell on the road Friday to Colorado, 72-51. The loss was the Cougars' fifth straight and drops them to 13-11 overall and 4-9 in conference play. The Buffs are now 11-13/4-9.
Galdeira, who averages just under 20 per game, scored 13 points on 5 of 21 shooting from the field, including 2 of 11 from downtown. Tia Presley added 12 for WSU and no other Coug scored more than 5.
The Cougars made only three of their 24 shots from beyond the three-point line. Three-point shooting wasn't the only thing that sunk the Cougars. The Buffaloes out-rebounded WSU 52-33, despite the best efforts of WSU true freshman Louise Brown, who pulled down 11.
Washington State trailed by 21 at halftime after shooting 26.5 percent. The Cougars tried to mount a comeback midway through the second half, going on an 11-2 run, but went cold again.
Next up, the Cougars continue their road trip by visiting Utah on Sunday. Utah enters the matchup at 8-16 overall and 2-11 in Pac-12 play. That game begins at 11 a.m., and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. -- Chris Shaw
LEACH: SOCIAL MEDIA A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD WHEN IT COMES TO RECRUITING
Mike Leach says social media has benefits as well as negatives in regard to recruiting, and the Washington State football coach suspects the negatives may have played a role in convincing some recruits to renege on their verbal commitments to attend WSU.
“There’s more social media,” Leach said in a recent interview with ESPN 700 radio of Spokane. “As it has become more incorporated with recruiting – as the players have gotten better and more ‘handy’ with it – I think there’s ideas flying around every split second that, whether a single one or cumulatively, can affect what’s going through somebody’s head. I also think there’s more handlers that are beyond coaches and parents that are impacting it (recruiting), too.”
Leach describes social media as “kind of a double-edged sword” in recruiting.
“Getting a lot of information out quickly, I think it’s positive to recruiting,” Leach said. “But then, utilizing all that to create distractions and disruptions when you consider somebody’s 18. I remember when I was 18 … I didn’t make ANY firm decisions with 100 percent confidence when I was 18, and I suspect most other 18-year-olds don’t, either.”
The Cougars were able to sign 12 defensive players to letters of intent despite not having a defensive coordinator or outside linebackers coach for most of the after-season recruiting period.
“I think a lot of it has to do with illustrating to them the vision of Washington State,” Leach said. “You know, the place and how folks are committed to it, things like that. The other thing, our coaches worked really hard, and it’s not a deal where only defensive guys (coaches) recruit defensive guys (players), only offensive guys (coaches) recruit offensive guys (players). Our coaches worked incredibly hard to get that accomplished. I thought we had a good, focused, organized effort. The new facilities that were finished in August certainly helped, too.”
FORMER COUG RB MARCUS MASON LETS FLY
Former Cougar running back Marcus Mason received scant playing time as a senior after leading Washington State in rushing and all-purpose yards as a junior in 2013. To say Mason is bitter would be a major understatement. Mason blasted unnamed WSU coaches in an interview posted on the NFL Draft Diamonds website.
“I was fooled by my coaching staff going into my senior year … I outworked everybody and to be beat out by politics alone was crushing,” Mason is quoted as saying. “Not one single coach had the heart to tell me what was going on every single time I asked until it was too late. They held me back as much as they could, would not let me switch positions and would try to keep me off the field as hard as they could no matter the circumstances just so they wouldn’t look bad. I wanted to give up but could not let them beat me.”
Mason had just five carries for seven yards last season. He caught one pass for two yards. The year before, Mason led WSU with 87 carries, 427 rushing yards and 865 all-purpose yards. His 52 receptions (for 390 yards) ranked second on the Cougars.
Redshirt freshmen Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks handled most of the running back duties last season. Morrow led WSU with 351 yards on 87 carries, and he had 61 catches for 460 yards. Morrow scored no touchdowns; Mason scored four times in 2013 (two rushing, two receiving).
“The frustration, anger, and hate that build up inside of me were ruining my life,” Mason said. “I would not talk to but a few people and never talked or even looked at my coaches unless I had to. Going through some of the ridiculous stuff we were made (to) do did not help but it did not make it worse and I took my frustration out on some of my teammates during practice.”
Mason is not one of the 1,500-plus players ESPN rates as prospects for the 2015 NFL draft. A WSU spokesperson, contacted by CF.C, said Mike Leach would have no comment regarding Mason. -- Howie Stalwick
FORMER WSU ASSISTANT ERIC RUSSELL REPORTEDLY HEADED TO TCU
Eric Rusell, who was fired as WSU's special teams coach midway through the 2014 season, is headed to TCU, according to footballscoop.com, although it was unclear in what capacity. "We understand that former Washington State special teams coordinator Eric Russell is expected to join the staff as well," read the entry. Russell's 2014 special teams units made at least one significant, and in some cases game-changing, special teams gaffe in all six games before he was let go. Russell was dismissed after the Cougs allowed two KO touchdown returns against Cal (100-, 98-yards) and missed a 19-yard field goal at the end of the game in a 62-60 loss.
COUGREAT KLAY THOMPSON WITH ANOTHER FIRST
Klay Thompson is set to become the first former Washington State player to start in an NBA All-Star Game after being named Wednesday to replace the injured Kobe Bryant. Steve Kerr, Thompson’s coach on the Golden State Warriors and on the Western Conference All-Stars, selected Thompson to start. Thompson had already been named to the Western squad as a reserve guard. Thompson averages 22.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocked shots per game. He ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring and sixth in 3-point shooting percentage (44.0).
James Donaldson is the only other Cougar to play in an NBA All-Star Game. Donaldson, a center with Dallas, came off the bench in the 1987-88 contest. TNT televises Sunday’s game at 5:30 p.m. Thompson participates in the 3-point shooting contest Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The contest is part of the skills competition that begins at 5:30 p.m. on TNT. -- Howie Stalwick
HOOPS UPDATE ON COUGARS IN THE PROS
Thomas Kelati, a 33-year-old native of Walla Walla, has played professionally in Europe since graduating from WSU in 2005. Signed through 2015-16, the swingman averages 22.4 minutes, 5.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals as a key reserve for Murcia in Spain's top pro league (Lija Endersa).
Xavier Thames, who after a lukewarm freshman season at Washington State transferred to San Diego State and blossomed into one of college basketball’s top point guards, has been released by Sevilla (also in Lija Endersa). He quickly signed with the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Fire Ants of the NBA Developmental League. Thames averaged 3.4 points, 0.8 assists and 15.4 minutes per game in 14 league games with Sevilla. The rookie pro sank just 19 percent of his 3-point shots. -- Howie Stalwick
FORMER COUG ASSISTANT COACH BEN JOHNSON LANDS A HEAD JOB IN AUSTRALIA
Ben Johnson, who spent nine years at Washington State (2004-13) as an assistant coach, has been named head coach of the Logan Thunder in Australia’s Queensland Basketball League. The QBL is akin to a semipro or minor pro league in North America. Johnson was instrumental in bringing Australian players Aron Baynes, Brock Motum and Dexter Kernich-Drew to Washington State. -- Howie Stalwick
PRESLEY NAMED TO WATCH LIST
WSU senior guard Tia Presley has been named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List, The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced. The award recognizes the top point guard in women’s NCAA Division I basketball. Presley is one of 31 players named to the list. She enters Sunday's game with Oregon State ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring (17.5 ppg), fifth in steals (49) and owns a 48 percent shooting percentage. Last season, Presley earned All-Pac-12 honors after finishing fifth in the conference in scoring (19.0 ppg). She is seventh all-time in WSU career scoring with 1,393 points. She has 186 career assists.
BUMPUS IS NEW HEAD MAN AT MONROE
Former Washington State football star Michael Bumpus has been named head coach at Monroe (Wash.) High. Bumpus, WSU’s all-time leader with 195 receptions from 2004-07, has been an assistant at Redmond and Snohomish. Monroe is a Class 4A team coming off a 7-3 season. Bumpus has lived in Monroe for three years while working as a fitness instructor. He played briefly with the Seattle Seahawks and later with British Columbia in the Canadian Football League. -- Howie Stalwick
WSU WOMEN'S HOOPS TEAM FALLS SHORT AGAINST OREGON
PULLMAN— The 400th win in head coach June Daugherty’s career will have to wait, and so might hopes for an NCAA berth after the Cougars' one-point loss to Oregon on Friday. The Cougars dropped to 4-7 in conference play and 13-9 overall. They climbed back from an early deficit and nearly pulled it out at the end, but Lia Galdeira's driving shot to win it missed as the final seconds ticked down. The 70-69 setback was WSU's third-straight loss.
Galdeira scored 20 points and moved into third place on the all-time WSU scoring list. Junior forward Mariah Cooks had a huge night for the Cougars, scoring a career-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and adding 7 rebounds. Freshman forward Louise Brown grabbed a team-high 8 rebounds.
Senior guard Tia Presley returned to form after suffering through a scoring drought in recent games. She scored 16 points on 6-of-17 from the field, though he struggled from 3-point range, making one of her seven shots.
Next up: the Cougars will play Oregon State on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Pullman. The Beavers are ranked No. 7 in the country. -- Chris Shaw
KUDOS FOR HAWKINSON AND LACY
Washington State forward Josh Hawkinson has been named to the All-Pac-12 Conference midseason first team by longtime San Jose Mercury News sports writer Jon Wilner. WSU guard DaVonte Lacy made the third team. Wilner selected three five-man teams, plus a five-man all-freshman team.
Wilner based his selections only on conference games and tried to put together five-man units that could play as a unit, though he said that was impossible to do entirely due to a lack of quality big men.
Hawkinson, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from the Seattle suburb of Shoreline, leads the Pac-12 in league games with 11.2 rebounds per game. He’s 13th in scoring at 14.4, fifth in free-throw shooting percentage at 84.8 and sixth in blocked shots at 1.4. In all games, Hawkinson ranks 10th in scoring (15.1), first in rebounding (10.8), fifth in free-throw shooting percentage (83.0) and seventh in blocked shots (1.4). Hawkinson ranks 10th in the nation in rebounding and second in defensive rebounds (9.0).
Lacy, a 6-4 senior from Tacoma, is tied for third in the Pac-12 in scoring in league games (18.2) and overall (17.7).
Wilner’s midseason picks include Utah guard Delon Wright as best player, Arizona forward Stanley Johnson as best freshman and Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle as best coach. Stanford guard Chasson Randle and Oregon State guard Gary Payton II join Wright, Johnson and Hawkinson on the first team.
The Cougars (10-11, 4-5 Pac-12) resume play Thursday at Oregon State (14-7, 5-4). The Pac-12 Networks televises the contest at 7 p.m. -- Howie Stalwick
OLD COUGAR COACHES ON THE MOVE
Bob Connelly, the offensive line coach on Washington State’s Rose Bowl team in 2002, is reportedly headed to USC. Multiple reports say Connelly is giving up the OL job at Oklahoma State to join Steve Sarkisian's staff. And Chris Tormey, who coached linebackers at WSU during Paul Wulff’s final season as head coach in 2011, has been named linebackers coach for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Tormey, 59, has never coached at the professional level. He was college assistant or head coach from 1980-2013 and spent last season calling the shots at little South Whidbey High in Langley, Wash.
Meanwhile, former WSU head coach Dennis Erickson has been promoted to assistant head coach at Utah, and will continue to coach Utah's running backs. Erickson, who turns 68 in March, joined the Utes as co-offensive coordinator two years ago. Erickson coached the Cougars in 1987-88.
Multiple media reports say Clancy Pendergast, mentioned as a possible candidate when the WSU defensive coordinator job was open, is taking the inside linebackers job with the San Francisco 49ers. -- Howie Stalwick
COUGALS' SHOTS WON'T FALL AT CAL
The Washington State women's basketball team brought the frigidity of Pullman on the road to Northern California. On Monday, for the second straight contest, the Cougars were icy from the field, making 34 percent of their field goals and losing narrowly to Cal, 57-54. The Cougs are now 13-8 overall and 4-6 in the Pac-12 while the Bears are 16-5, 8-2.
The Cougars have now shot under 35 percent in the last four games. They managed to survive against Utah and Colorado, but it was not so at Stanford over the weekend or at Cal on Monday.
The Golden Bears led by 12 at intermission but the Cougars clawed back in the second half and took the lead with 5:09 remaining. However, WSU froze up again and did not score for the final five minutes.
A recent slump by Tia Presley has been a big reason why the WSU offense has faltered lately. Presley scored six points on 2-of-13 shooting against Cal, and finished the weekend road trip with only 10 total points. Before the road trip, the senior guard was averaging 18.9 points per game. The loss overshadowed Lia Galdeira, who dropped 29 points for the Cougars to move into fourth place on WSU's all-time scoring list. The junior guard also moved into third place on WSU's all-time steals list with three steals against Cal. Galdeira now has a total of 240 steals in her WSU career. -- Chris Shaw
DENNIS SIMMONS HAS 'NO COMMENT' ON OKLAHOMA JOB
The same blog that reported last week Cougar outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons had interviewed with Oklahoma spoke with Simmons on Monday, asking him if he expects to be the next wide receivers coach at Oklahoma. From thefootballbraniacs.com website:
– UPDATE (1:04 pm): Brandon had a chance to speak to wide receiver’s coach, Dennis Simmons from Washington State. Brandon asked Simmons if he expects to be the next wide receivers coach at Oklahoma. Simmons responded by saying, “I have no comment.”
The site also said that per "a source connected to the Wazzu program," Washington State has already identified a new outside wide receivers coach if Simmons were to leave. Washington State did not immediately respond to Cougfan.com's request for comment on Simmons' status.
Simmons is the Cougs' primary recruiting point man in the Los Angeles Basin. The Cougars have lost two verbal commitments from the area in the last week -- DT Dillon Faamatau (ASU) and LB Kyahva Tezino (undecided). WSU also has two additional three-star wide receiver verbals that Simmons has run the recruiting point on who are now wavering according to reports on Scout.com and other media sources: Deontay Burnett and Dahu Green. Green, from Oklahoma City, was offered by Oklahoma last week.
Simmons and Riley worked together on Leach’s staff at Texas Tech for seven seasons. Simmons has been with Leach for 13 seasons all told.
ROBB AKEY NAMED REDSKINS' D-LINE COACH
The Washington Redskins announced Monday that Robb Akey has been hired as their defensive line coach. Akey just completed his first year as an NFL assistant working as an assistant defensive line coach with the Vikings. Akey was the Cougs' d-line coach from 1999-2002 and defensive coordinator from 2003-06. He had a six-year stint as the head coach of Idaho from 2007-12.
HALLIDAY NAMED INLAND NW ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Connor Halliday may be done playing football at Washington State, but he’s not done winning awards for his sterling play for the Cougars. Halliday has been named Inland Northwest Amateur Male Athlete of the Year. Halliday, a senior from Spokane, was selected in a vote of 50 representatives of the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters in Washington and Idaho. Halliday was leading the nation in passing before he suffered a season-ending broken leg in WSU’s ninth game. He passed for 3,877 yards and 32 touchdowns, and his 67.3 pass completion percentage ranks first in WSU history. --Howie Stalwick
WHAT ROUND DOES COUGS' VINCE MAYLE GO IN NFL DRAFT?
Vince Mayle was No. 4 in receiving yardage with 1,483 hashes and set the all-time single-season mark at Washington State with 106 grabs. "So why are some scouts and analysts calling him a fourth- or even a fifth-round pick?" asks ontheclookfootball.com. For their full story and analysis:
COUGAR WOMEN STUMBLE ON OFFENSE AT STANFORD
No. 12 Stanford was simply too much for the Cougars to handle on Saturday afternoon. After WSU went up by two at halftime, the Cardinal (16-5, 8-1) dominated in the second half, and eventually won 75-56. The Cougars, now 13-7 overall and 4-5 in Pac-12 play, shot 20 percent from the field in the second half, and 31 percent overall. The Cougars finished the game in a 2-for-18 slump from the floor. Stanford is now a perfect 59-0 against WSU all-time.
Lia Galdeira led the way for WSU with 18 points and 9 rebounds, and fouled out with two minutes remaining in the game. Tia Presley, who had a game-high 23 points in WSU's first matchup with the Cardinal this season, had a rough time offensively, making only one of her 10 shots from the field and scoring four points. Mariah Cooks hit for 13 points for the Cougars to follow up her double-digit effort against Colorado last Sunday. She also had 5 rebounds.
Stanford dominated the boards 47-30. Losing the rebounding battle been an Achilles heel for the Cougars this season. The Cougars are now 7-7 when they are outrebounded.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Cougars, whose next battle is at California on Monday 5 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks). -- Chris Shaw
WSU DOESN'T EXPECT ANY POST-SUPER BOWL ISSUES ON CAMPUS
Washington State isn't expecting any issues on Sunday but the UW is stepping up security after the Seahawks' Super Bowl win a year ago resulted in spontaneous disturbances and bonfires on the UW campus, New England Public Radio reports. WSU spokesperson Rob Strenge told NEPR the Cougs' Pac-12 football games are more of a concern than the Super Bowl.
“When the Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year, we didn’t have any incidents on campus,” he says. “And we don’t anticipate that we’ll have any incidents this year when they win again.”
"There you have it. Plenty of confidence from the Pacific Northwest," the NEPR article sums up.
FORMER WSU ASSISTANT COACH HAS NEW HOME
Former WSU running backs coach Kelly Skipper has been named the new running backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. After serving as WSU’s running backs and special teams coach from 2003-06, Skipper had spent his entire NFL coaching career in Oakland. He was not retained by new Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio after the Raiders this season were last in rushing per game (77.5) and rushing touchdowns (four).
Seattle Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable, who was Oakland’s head coach from 2008-10, spoke highly of Skipper during a Super Bowl media day session earlier this week.
“He’s a good man and a good football coach,” Cable said. “He was on it all the time for me. He was a good teacher and really developed the group. If I ever needed a running backs coach, he would be the first guy I would go to. Just a special person.”-- Howie Stalwick
WSU JOINS SWEEPSTAKES FOR 2017 QB
The ink won't be dry on the 2015 recruiting class for another week, but Washington State already is fast at work on the 2017 class. Yep, 2017. Scout.com's Doug Kimmel recently learned that Tua Tagovalioa, a sophomore QB at Saint Louis High in Honolulu (Jason Gesser's alma mater), has added a WSU offer to a scholie list that already includes USC, UCLA, Texas Tech, Mississippi, Colorado and Hawaii. The 6-0, 196-pounder was once tutored by Saint Louis alum and reigning Heisman winner Marcus Mariota so is believed to have Oregon high on his wish list.
XAVIER COOPER HEADED TO NFL COMBINE
Washington State defensive lineman Xavier Cooper has been invited to the NFL Combine, a spokesperson for the Cooper family said Thursday. Cooper, on schedule to graduate from WSU this semester, is passing up his final season of college eligibility to turn pro. CollegeFootballNews.com predicts Cooper will be selected in the second or third round of April's NFL draft. The combine will be held Feb. 17-23 in Indianapolis. Two of his WSU teammates, receiver Vince Mayle and quarterback Connor Halliday, also will be there. Halliday says he won’t work out because he’s still recovering from a broken leg sustained late this past season. -- Howie Stalwick
THOMPSON TABBED FOR FIRST ALL-STAR GAME
Klay Thompson is set to make his first appearance in the NBA All-Star Game. All that remains to be determined is whether he starts. The former Washington State guard was named a reserve on the Western Conference All-Stars on Thursday. The reserves were picked by Western Conference coaches, and Western Conference coach Steve Kerr -- Thompson's coach with Golden State -- must choose a starter to replace injured Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
Starters were voted on by fans. Bryant was Thompson’s childhood hero. Thompson ranks among the NBA leaders with 23.0 points and 3.2 three-point field goals made per game. He's also shooting a glossy 45.6 percent from downtown. -- Howie Stalwick
DENNIS SIMMONS HEADED TO OKLAHOMA?
Reports out of Norman say WSU outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons has interviewed for a position at Oklahoma. OU's new offensive coordinator, Air Raid disciple Lincoln Riley, is more-than-familiar with Simmons. The two were assistants together at East Carolina and Texas Tech. Simmons came to WSU from East Carolina when Mike Leach was hired in late 2011. If Simmons departed the Palouse, his absence would be felt not just in the field, where he has a sterling reputation, but on the recruiting trail. He's been highly effective for WSU in recruiting talent-rich southern California.
HALLIDAY INVITED TO NFL COMBINE
Lindsey Joy of SWX-TV in Spokane reports that Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday, whose record-setting WSU career ended three games early with a broken leg, has been invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The annual event, to be held Feb. 17-23, features NFL coaches, scouts and front-office personnel poking, prodding, interviewing and working out 300 of the best prospects for the upcoming April draft. Halliday plans to attend the combine but will not work out, SWX says. WSU receiver Vince Mayle, as reported earlier, also will be there.
SO, HOW DID THE OL' TOP CAT PAN OUT?
Scout.com West Coast recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman recently looked back at the top prospect in each of Washington State's last 10 recruiting classes and came up with the hits and misses. Sadly, there are far more misses, including two of the highest-rated QB recruits at WSU in the last 20 years. Here's the link to the story.
KLAY THOMPSON'S STAR CONTINUES TO SHINE
Klay Thompson has been selected to participate in the 3-point shooting contest during NBA All-Star Weekend, and no less an authority than Magic Johnson says Thompson deserves to start in the All-Star Game itself. Thompson, a fourth-year pro out of Washington State, has yet to play in either event. The Golden State guard is enjoying his best season, and he’s certainly impressed Johnson.
After Thompson set NBA records with 37 points and nine 3-pointers in one quarter last Friday, Johnson tweeted, “Klay Thompson and LeBron James are the two best all-around players we have in the NBA today!” Asked if he disagrees with anything Johnson said, Thompson told San Francisco Bay Area media, “No.” Thompson added, “I’m not trying to be the best player. I’m trying to be on the best team.”
Thompson’s career-high 52 points last Friday against Sacramento helped him earn Player of the Week honors in the Western Conference for a club-record third time this season. He averaged 33.8 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 steals during Golden State’s 4-0 week. Thompson ranks eighth in the NBA with 23.0 points per game and eighth with 45.6 percent shooting on 3-pointers. -- Howie Stalwick.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL FRESHMAN TRANSFERS AT SEMESTER
The Washington State women's basketball team has 14 players on its roster, one less than when the 2014-15 season began. Freshman Ashley Bolston, a 6-2 guard out of South Medford High in Medford, Ore., transferred at the semester mark, June Daugherty said Tuesday.
Daugherty said Bolston did not provide a list of schools where she would like to be released to, so WSU honored her request. When asked if Bolston gave a reason for transferring, Daugherty said there was not one.
Bolston played in 11 games this season, and averaged 7.5 minutes, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.9 points per game. She also contributed three blocks and five steals. She last played, for three minutes, in the Cougars' road win over Arizona on Jan. 3. Bolston did not play against Arizona State in Tempe two days later.
She was rated the No. 106 prospect in the nation by girlsbasketballreport.com.
BRIAN ODOM JOINING WSU FOOTBALL QUALITY CONTROL STAFF
Brian Odom will be named to a defensive quality control position at Washington State, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Cougfan.com. Odom has held similar posts at Houston and Arizona. He was at Arizona at the same time as WSU football chief of staff Dave Emerick.
TYRON BRACKENDRIDGE RE-SIGNS WITH RIDERS
Former Cougar defensive back and four-year NFL veteran Tyron Brackenridge has signed a contract extension with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Times Colonist reports. Brackenridge has been with the Riders the last four seasons, earning all-star honors the past two. This past season he posted 74 total tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, two sacks and a blocked field goal.
MOTUM AND ROCHESTIE SHINE
Former Washington State basketball stars Brock Motum and Taylor Rochestie made headlines in recent pro games overseas. Motum was named Player of the Week in Australia’s National Basketball League when he racked up 31 points and 13 rebounds in Adelaide’s 106-102 triumph over Perth. Motum ranks fifth in the NBL in scoring (17.9) and rebounding (7.3). Rochestie set an Euroleague Top 16 record with 15 assists in Nizhny Novgorod’s 109-90 win over Anadolu. Rochestie added 19 points. Rochestie averages 17.4 points and 5.1 assists for his Russian team. -- Howie Stalwick
MAYLE GETS IN ON THE ACTION AT SENIOR BOWL
WSU receiver Vince Mayle caught two passes for 33 yards and rushed one time for three yards to help the North defeat the South 34-13 in Saturday's Senior Bowl showcase of top NFL prospects. Mayle, who will also audition for NFL personnel at the Feb. 17-23 combine in Indianapolis, is widely forecast as a third- or fourth-round pick in April's draft.
CBS PRAISES WSU'S RECRUITING COORDINATOR
Tom Lemming, the guru of football recruiting at CBS Sports, is out with his list of five directors of operations of the year in college football and WSU chief Dave Emerick is there. The salute, which came on The Lemming Report, is due to the unprecedented recruiting success WSU is having in this current class. If LOIs were signed today, WSU would have the No. 27 class in the country, according to Scout.com.
Emerick came to WSU from Arizona. He was Mike Leach's first hire after coming on board in December 2011. The two had previously spent six years together at Texas Tech.
VIDEO: KLAY THOMPSON'S HISTORIC THIRD QUARTER
CougGreat Klay Thompson was 3-9 in the first half on Friday night. He couldn't miss in the third quarter -- and that's not just a figure of speech. In Golden State's 126-101 win over Sacramento, Thompson scored an NBA-record 37 points in the third, going 13-13 from field, hitting all nine of his 3-point attempts and both of his free throws. The old mark for most points in a quarter, 33, was held by George Gervin and Carmelo Anthony.
The score was 58-58 when Thompson began his run for the ages with 9:46 remaining in the third. By the end of the quarter, Golden State led 97-73. Thompson scored all but four of the Warriors' points in the third. Thompson's final stat line: 52 points, 16-25 FG, 11-15 3PT, 9-10 FT, five assists, two rebounds, four steals and two blocks in 33 minutes. Video of Thompson's incredible third-quarter scoring display:
BILLS SIGN JEFF TUEL FOR 2015
It was just a footnote in most sports sections, but former Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel last month resigned with the Buffalo Bills for 2015. Tuel, who saw action in two games with the Bills and 2012 and served on the practice squad this past season, signed what's a called a "futures contract." It's the same as a regular contract but it doesn't kick in until March, which gives management greater flexibility with the salary cap.
Chris Okrainetz of the website Fansided said Tuel's was the most important of the 10 futures contracts the Bills inked at year's end because -- barring a notable free-agent signing or trade -- he believes Tuel will give E.J. Manuel a serious run for the starting job. Manuel, a former first-round pick, struggled this past season and then was benched when the Bills brought Kyle Orton out of retirement. Orton recently announced he would not play again in 2015.
WILNER THINKS AIR RAID WILL FLY WITHOUT HALLIDAY, BUT NOT WITHOUT A RUN GAME
Jon Wilner, the venerable Pac-12 scribe from the Mercury News in San Jose, blogged his predictions
for the 2015 Pac-12 football season yesterday. He picked the Cougars to finish fifth in the North -- one spot higher than their last-place finish in the just-concluded season -- and fired a salvo in the process.
"Don’t expect the departure of Connor Halliday to have much impact — the Cougars are plug-and-play at quarterback. BUT: I don’t think the Air Raid will ever work in the Pac-12, where you must run the ball effectively to compete for titles. Without that capability, WSU will always finish fifth or sixth in the division," he writes.
As for the titles, he gives the North nod to Oregon but mostly thinks it'll be a toss up with Stanford, while the South goes to USC with Arizona, UCLA and perhaps Arizona State hanging tough.
FORMER WSU AD RAY NAGEL DIES
Ray Nagel, the athletic director at Washington State from 1971-76, passed away on Jan. 15 at age 87, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Nagel came to WSU following 13 years as head football coach at Iowa and Utah. His tenure on the Palouse was eventful. He replaced burned out Rogers Field with Martin Stadium, hired a basketball coach (George Raveling) who transformed the program, elevated John Chaplin to head coach of track and field, and turned loose Sam Jankovich to supercharge WSU's fundraising efforts. All three of those people -- Raveling, Chaplin and Jankovich -- are in the WSU Hall of Fame. A former All-Coast running back from UCLA, Nagel left WSU to become AD at Hawaii and later was an executive vice president with the Los Angeles Rams and executive director of the Hula Bowl.
NAGEL AND RAVELING CIRCA 1972.
STEVE GLEASON RECEIVES PAUL ALLEN AWARD
CouGreat and New Orleans Saints icon Steve Gleason received the Paul Allen Award for outstanding philanthropy Wednesday night at the annual Sports Awards banquet in Seattle. Steve's mom, Gail, an academic counselor at WSU, accepted the award for Steve and delivered a heartwarming message about Steve's battle with ALS and his tireless efforts to raise awareness of the disease and help ease the way for those who are suffering from it.
Two other Cougars, Connor Halliday and Tia Presley, were up for the male and female athlete of the year awards but were outdistanced by Earl Thomas of the Seahawks and Seattle U soccer standout Stephanie Verdoia.
WSU GREAT AND SPOKANE LEGEND BUD ROFFLER DIES
Until Ryne Sandberg and Mark Rypien came along, Bud Roffler was widely considered the greatest athlete ever to come out of Spokane. He was so good that he played three sports at WSU. But it was in football where he left an especially vivid mark, starring on offense, defense and special teams for the Cougars from 1949-51 and then playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. His work in WSU's 1951 Apple Cup victory is still the stuff of lore and propelled the Cougs to a No. 18 national ranking. He was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011. On Tuesday, this crimson legend passed away in Spokane Valley from complications related to pneumonia, The Spokesman-Review reports. He was 84. In 2011, Cougfan.com caught up with Bud for this memorable story
about his career and life as a Cougar.
COUGSFIRST! IS ON THE MOVE
CougsFirst!, the independent alumni organization promoting the idea of WSU graduates doing business with each other, will hold its third annual show highlighting Cougar-owned and managed business on March 4 at Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center. It's a tremendous networking opportunity and admission is free. In addition, this year's show and after party will feature the country duet FALK -- the highly touted singing sisters of WSU quarterback Luke Falk. Click here
to register attend or to buy a booth.
In an unrelated development, CougsFirst! has secured blocks of reduced-rate rooms at the Holiday Inn and Marriott in Pullman for fans wanting to hit the Palouse for the Cougar hoops team's games against Cal and Stanford on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31. Tell 'em CougsFirst! sent ya in order to get the discounts.
CORRECTION: YARNO LET GO AS JACKSONVILLE ASSISTANT BUT WILL STAY UNDER CONTRACT
Correction: The Jacksonville Jaguars have replaced George Yarno as offensive line coach with former Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone, but the Jaguars are keeping him under contract and he will still receive his salary and medical benefits.
Yarno continues to fight cancer after sitting out the 2014 season and ESPN reports he will not be able to coach in 2015. Yarno played four years at nose tackle for the Cougs before switching to the offensive line, where he played 13 years professionally including 11 years in the NFL.
Elsewhere on the NFL coaching carousel, Greg Olson, a graduate assistant from 1987-89 at Washington State, was let go as Oakland’s offensive coordinator by new head coach Jack Del Rio but quickly found a new job, as he was named offensive coordinator at Jacksonville. Ted Williams, the OC/running backs coach at Wazzu from 1991-93, after 20 years as an assistant coach in Philadelphia, shifts from tight ends coach to pro scout for the Eagles at age 71. Kelly Skipper, who coached the running backs and special teams for the Cougars from 2003-06, has worked for five head coaches during his eight years in Oakland, but his days may be numbered as running backs coach now that Del Rio is in charge.
In other WSU-related coaching news, various media reported that Clancy Pendergast – rumored to have been considered for the defensive coordinator job at Washington State – interviewed for the DC job with the NFL’s Washington Redskins. The Cougars hired Alex Grinch as DC last week.-- Howie Stalwick
WSU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM LOSES ANCHOR FOR SEASON
Washington State announced Tuesday afternoon that senior center Shalie Dheensaw will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season with a right knee injury. Dheensaw suffered the injury in the final seconds of the team's loss to Oregon State on Friday, and immediately fell to the floor in what looked like severe pain.
"The first thing is you lose your defensive floor captain. Shalie is so vocal and she has great experience in our matchup and reading the situations because there's a lot of calls that have to be made for our guards, whether we're going to switch, stay, there's just a lot of things that go into it," head coach June Daugherty said in her Tuesday morning press conference.
Dheensaw averaged 8.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game in 16 starts this season. She also had a team-high 29 blocks.
"Offensively, the remainder of the front line, they know that we're going to miss her scoring, but if everybody picks up just a little bit, we'll be able to at least match that. We've just got to keep getting better, bringing kids along, and if we do that, we'll be fine," Daugherty said.
As far as bringing kids along, true freshman Louise Brown made her first career start on Sunday against Oregon, in place of Dheensaw. Brown will likely continue to fill Dheensaw's spot, at least for a portion of the minutes that will be lost in the senior's absence. Brown has averaged the third-most rebounds on the team this season (5.6), and is scoring 3.6 points per game.
RAVELING TALE ISN'T NEW BUT OH IT'S A GOOD ONE
A number of news outlets over the years, including Cougfan.com, have told the tale of how former Cougar basketball coach George Raveling came into possession of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Sports Illustrated is out this week with a feature story on Raveling's fascinating piece of history that goes into great depth on Raveling's childhood and deep connection with King's message. If you've heard the story before, think again. SI's piece makes for a great, great read: Click here.
BRESKE TO REPLACE OLD COUG RON LEE AT IDAHO?
Footballscoop.com, a close and well-wired follower of college football coaching jobs, tweeted today that it would "be a surprise" if Mike Breske wasn't tabbed as Idaho's next defensive coordinator. Breske was fired by WSU at season's end after three years under Mike Leach. A week ago, Idaho coach Paul Petrino fired DC Ronnie Lee, who was a standout WSU defensive back in the late 1980s. Lee got his coaching start at Miami with Dennis Erickson and later served as defensive coordinator at San Jose State and Minnesota. In 2014 the Vandals ranked No. 112 in total defense among the 125 FBS schools while the Cougars ranked 97th.
XAVIER COOPER LANDS AGENT, HEADS TO CALI
Xavier Cooper, who is passing up his senior year at Washington State to make himself eligible for the NFL draft, has signed with the Relativity Sports agency. Relativity Sports represents such NFL players as former Cougars Husain Abdullah of Kansas City and Brandon Gibson of MiamI. Other prominent clients include Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Wizards point guard John Wall and World Series MVP pitcher Madison Bumgarner of the Giants.
Cooper is currently working out in the San Diego area with a group of players that includes former Washington Huskies Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson and Marcus Peters. Cooper, a defensive tackle, is projected to be drafted in the third round, according to NFL draft expert Dave-Te Thomas of Scout.com.-- Howie Stalwick
UPDATED 4:05 PM
DHEENSAW GOES DOWN WITH KNEE INJURY
Washington State center Shalie Dheensaw went down in writing pain on the last play of the Cougar women's hoops team's narrow loss at No. 9 Oregon State Friday and will not play against Oregon on Sunday, WSU announced. The school has not said if the injury is season threatening for the standout senior from Victoria, B.C., but will be reevaluated upon the team's return to Pullman. Dheessaw has started 50-straight games for the Cougars. She is in the midst of her best season, averaging 8.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and more minutes per game than anyone else on the team. Last season she averaged 7.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and notched 38 blocks-- fifth-most in the Pac-12 and seventh-most in WSU single-season history
BRETT BOESE HAS GONE FROM BIT PLAYER TO KEY COMPONENT
Josh Hawkinson, deservedly so, is getting a ton of attention for his rise from obscurity to Pac-12 prominence, but there's another in-state product for the Cougars who also has risen from oblivion this season. While not on the scale of Hawkinson, junior forward Brett Boese has gone from forgotten to formidable. A year ago he averaged 4.2 minutes of playing time in the 20 games he saw action. Now he plays in every game and is averaging 17.1 minutes per outing, but that number will rise if the last two games are any indication. In the Cougars' victories over Oregon and Washington, Boese turned in a collective 61 minutes, scoring 27 points -- including clutch treys and free throws -- and dishing 8 assists.
“He played 31 (minutes) at Washington and 30 (minutes) tonight and a guy that was buried on the bench last year and all he does is give you everything in his tank,” Ernie Kent said of Boese following the win over Oregon. “He’s not the fastest, he doesn’t jump the highest but he plays so hard and I thought his shots tonight were big ... those threes he hit.”
Boese has connected on 9 of his last 14 field goals.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ALABAMA AND FLORIDA?
Former Cougar linebacker Darryl Monroe will play his fifth season of college ball this fall at Akron, his hometown paper, the Orlando Sentinel reports today in this quote-filled story
. Monroe, a three-year starter for the Cougs, has one season of eligibility remaining and can play right away because he graduated from WSU in December. Akron -- and his second choice, Cincinnati -- are far cries from the schools his father said were after Darryl. In a Dec. 8 CF.C story the elder Monroe said Darryl had 10 offers so far, including ones from Washington, Arizona State, Florida, Alabama and Miami.
"My time at Washington State was great," Monroe said in the Sentinel story. "It kind of broke my heart that I didn't get to play under Paul Wulff and Chris Ball and those guys, but besides that I felt like I took advantage of my opportunity and just went out and enjoyed playing the game my first two seasons ... just having fun and good things happened. I kind of look for the same things this year."
COUGREAT DEONE BUCANNON NAMED TO NFL ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
Deone Bucannon, Arizona’s first-round draft pick out of Washington State, has been named to the NFL All-Rookie team by the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
Bucannon played in all 16 regular-season games, started nine and ranked third on the Cardinals with 81 tackles. He had four tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Bucannon was one of two safeties selected, though he actually lined up as a linebacker most of the time.-- Howie Stalwick
DAQUAWN BROWN REMOVED FROM WSU ROSTER
As expected, a quick check on Tuesday showed cornerback Daquawn Brown's name has been removed the official WSU roster. Cougfan.com in late December, citing four independent sources, reported that Brown had been dismissed from the WSU program for an undisclosed violation of team rules by Mike Leach. Within minutes of that report, one of Brown's good friends who plays for the Huskies and later a fellow Cougar teammate tweeted that Brown had been suspended and not dismissed. You can find that CF.C article
Classes began this week at Washington State and it was not immediately known Tuesday if Brown had returned to WSU as a student for the semester (which would not be out of the realm if a player wanted to complete the term before transferring).
Brown, on a beleaguered WSU secondary this past season, was the most consistent corner, leading Washington State in tackles (82), starting 11 of 12 games in being named All-Pac-12 honorable mention. Brown was widely believed to be on thin ice with coaching staff since the spring after being arrested on felony and misdemeanor assault charges. He eventually pleaded to misdemeanor assault, court fines and probation.
ISIAH MYERS PICKED FOR ALL-STAR GAME
Cougar senior receiver Isiah Myers has been selected to play in the College Gridiron Showcase, a new all-star game to be held Jan. 31 at Maverick Stadium on the campus of UT-Arlington, WSU announced. Myers caught 78 passes this season, third-most in WSU single-season history, for 972 yards. And his 12 TD receptions tied him for second-most in WSU single-season history. He finished his career sixth on the all-time WSU list with 164 receptions and tied for fourth all-time with 19 TD catches.
Myers is the third Cougar confirmed to play in a college all-star game this month. Defensive lineman Toni Polé will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Jan. 17 and receiver Vince Mayle will play in the Reece’s Senior Bowl Jan. 20.
for previous entries in the Cougar Blog