Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

RIAN LINDELL, the outstanding placekicker on WSU’s 1998 Rose Bowl team before embarking on a 14-year NFL career, is already signed for the 2015 season. The Vancouver, Wash., native is all but sealed and delivered to join the coaching staff at Seattle’s Garfield High this fall.

And the source on that scoop is none other than GHS head coach and former Cougar running back Derek Sparks. This past season, his first at the helm, Sparks led GHS to its best season since a kid named Shawn McWashington – one of Lindell’s old WSU Rose Bowl teammates -- was playing quarterback for the Bulldogs in the early 1990s.

Lindell scored more than 1,300 points in his long NFL career with his greatest seasons coming in Buffalo. He also spent three years with the Seahawks and one with Tampa Bay.

Two current NFL Cougs -- fullback Jed Collins and receiver Brandon Gibson -- had details of their recent free-agent contracts revealed in recent days. Collins’ one-year deal with the Cowboys will pay him $810,000 this season and Gibson’s one-year pact with the Patriots will pay him $825,000.

WSU’S WOMEN’S BASKETBALL team closed on a disappointing note in last week’s narrow WNIT loss to EWU, but a quick glance at the Pac-12 stats sheet for this season ought to bring a smile to crimson faces because one name that comes flying off the pages – seemingly from every corner – will be back in action for the Cougars next season. Junior guard Lia Galdeira’s 2014-15 season was truly something remarkable – and statistics from the conference prove it in so many ways. Let us count the ways she dominated the league:

  • No. 1 in steals at 3.28 pg
  • No. 2 in scoring at 20.0 ppg
  • No. 10 in 3-pointers made at 1.78 per game
  • No. 15 in free-throw percentage at .721, and
  • No. 18 in rebounds at 6. 1 per game

    And in case you’re wondering, Cougar senior Tia Presley finished No. 5 in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg), No. 4 in steals (2.09 pg), No. 10 in free-throw percentage (.774) and No. 13 in 3-pointers made (1.47 pg).

    SPEAKING OF BASKETBALL STATS, a review of the Cougar men’s numbers for the year shows that Ernie Kent will have 51.3 minutes per game to fill in his backcourt next season now that DaVonte Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew are graduating. Lacy averaged a little more than 32 minutes of PT per game this season and Kernich-Drew a little under 19.

    That’s a lot of time to fill. Ike Iroegbu and Ny Redding averaged 27 and 19 minutes a game, respectively, this season so don’t look for a ton of the slack to get picked up there. But get this: Que Johnson (pictured above) only averaged 18 minutes per game in 2014-15. And given the way he improved over the course of the season, it’s no stretch to see his minutes climbing a good 10 to 12 more minutes per game next season.

    Even then, that leaves a large void to fill, which should provide some opportunity for youngsters Trevor Dunbar and Jackie Davis. But the biggest spotlight could be shining on incoming JC transfer Renard Suggs. When the 6-3, 200-pound guard from Gillette College in Wyoming signed with WSU in November, Kent dubbed him a “prolific scorer” with a nice deep ball and keen understanding of the game. Only time will tell if he’s ready for 30-plus minutes a game, but if he is then look for Year Two of the Kent Rebuild to be just as interesting as Year One turned out to be.

    IN THE CATEGORY OF ‘CAN’T BELIEVE WE MISSED IT’ comes this sorry fact: Cougfan.com failed to mention back in January that one of our all-time favorite WSU hoopers, Bennie Seltzer had been selected for the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor as a part of the 2014-15 class. The ceremony itself was last Saturday in Las Vegas.

    For those too young to remember, Bennie was nothing less than a treat to watch as he helped Kelvin Sampson turn the train wreck of the Len Stevens Years into the foundation that eventually returned WSU back to the NCAA tournament. Seltzer, now the director of player performance at Indiana, was a four-year starter and three-time captain at WSU from 1989-93. Along the way he set records for assists and three-point shooting and no doubt belongs in the conversation of the 10 best players ever to wear crimson.

    CNN RAN AN UNUSUAL STORY THE other day that knocked the age-old stereotype about “dumb jocks” back to the dark ages. The focus was Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel, who not only holds a master’s degree in math but publishes scholarly works in major mathematical journals, His latest piece is called “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians.” Go figure!

    His tale reminds us of two things. First, a great story a couple of months ago by former CF.C correspondent Michael Dugar about Cougar football players who became doctors. It’s an excellent read and one I think too few WSU fans had a chance to read because it was published during the holiday season. So here’s the link in case you missed it. And second, a half-page section in Ryan Leaf’s old book 596 Switch in which he talked about the time commitment required to play big-time football and how players’ GPAs literally went from one extreme to the other depending between in-season and off-season.

    Ryan concluded his thoughts on the matter with these words: “Next time you hear someone speak the phrase “dumb jock,” do me a favor and tell them to think twice. We’re working full time, representing the university in a very physically and mentally pursuit, and also staying on track to earn a college degree. There’s nothing dumb about that.”

    WSU IS MARKING ITS 125th birthday this year and the Cougar Athletic Fund is setting aside 36 hours this week for a fundraising push to get more members into the CAF. From noon this Thursday, March 26, to midnight, Friday, March 27, the CAF has established goals of 1,250 new donors and $125,000 raised. The minimum contribution is $50. And with a gift of $125 during the 36-hour period, current CAF members and those joining the CAF will receive a special commemorative 8x10 print of Martin Stadium. Those making gifts specifically for the campaign are asked to add “CougsGive125" in the comments section. To join in head to CougarAthleticFund.com.

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