Seen & Heard 4/6

UNLESS YOU WERE ON the Palouse in the early 1980s, the announcement last week that North Idaho College guard Mac Hopson, a one-time Portland high school star, is headed to WSU probably didn't make a big impression. But for old-timers who were around when George Raveling was working his magic for the Cougars while Don Monson was molding Idaho into a Sweet 16 program, the name Hopson is one you'll never forget.

Mac's dad, you see, is Phil Hopson -- a standout performer for the Vandals during their heyday in the early 80s. In many respects, Idaho was Gonzaga before Gonzaga was Gonzaga -– a collection of great role players, mostly from the Pacific Northwest, who rolled over darn near everyone. In Phil's last three seasons the Vandals went a collective 72-16 and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1982. A small forward who would go on to play professionally overseas, Phil scored in double-digits, averaged a half-dozen rebounds per game, played solid defense and passed like a point guard. He was a pleasure to watch.

In short, new Cougar coach Tony Bennett -- who knows something about sterling bloodlines -- has landed himself a player with a great, great family pedigree.

Like his dad, the 6-2, 170-pound Mac starred at Jefferson High in Portland. At NIC this past season he was named all-region, averaging 13.7 points per game.

Also a standout in the classroom, Hopson becomes the second member of the Cougars' incoming recruiting class. The other is 6-6 forward Thomas Abercrombie of New Zealand.

Sharp-shooting guard Josh Akognon, who announced that he would be leaving WSU to play in a program with a fast-paced style, isn't getting specific on where he might be looking. He's talked about schools in the south, east and three in the WCC. I'd be shocked if Gonzaga isn't one of those WCC teams. They play an up-tempo style, are in desperate need of a good outside shooter and have traditionally been a great haven for Pac-10 defectors.

ASIDE FROM THE GREAT play of the wide receivers, two things have struck me about the Cougars' spring football practices. One is the positive reports we're getting about young running backs DeMaundray Woolridge and Dwight Tardy. The other thing is the large number of injuries. Guys seem to be dropping left and right. There is, however, good news in it all. For one, none of the injuries are expected to derail anyone for fall. For two, none of the quarterbacks or game-breaking talents – Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus – have been bitten. And lastly, it simply creates more opportunities for players working their way up the depth chart.

Mark your calendar: The annual Crimson & Gray Game is April 15 at Martin Stadium, with an 11 am kickoff. Looking farther out, tickets for the WSU-Baylor game at Qwest Field in Seattle on Sept. 16 are now sale. Tickets for all the Cougars' road games, including Auburn on Sept. 2, also are on sale. To order, click to

WITH THE ANNUAL MURROW Symposium coming up in Pullman this month, I was reminded of a note I meant to include in a column earlier this year: If you haven't see the George Clooney movie about WSU graduate Edward R. Murrow's bold challenge of McCarthyism -- "Good Night and Good Luck" -- you need to. It's brilliantly crafted (a la six Academy Award nominations) and is now out in video stores. By the way, Murrow's son, Casey, serves on WSU's Murrow School of Communication Advisory Board.

Moving right along from gold statues to gold coins, one of the most compelling reasons --- the creation of alums with deep pockets --- for getting WSU's baseball program back to prominence was found in the small type of the newspaper not along ago. Mark Hendrickson, the Cougar hoops star of the mid-90s who now makes a living throwing baseballs at 90 mph, resigned with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He'll make $1.95 million this year. In 2005, his third full season in the Majors, he went 11-8 with a 5.9 ERA and pitched 178 innings.

AND SPEAKING OF BASEBALL, I can't tell you what a thrill it is to see the Cougars waking the echoes of the school's past diamond glory with their hot start to the season. The Cougs really haven't been a factor in baseball since the days of John Olerud, Aaron Sele and Scott Hatteberg, but for those of us who've been around awhile we fondly recall when WSU was a major presence pretty much every season. Many greats came out of the program, including the likes of Gene Conley, Dale Ford, Danny Frisella, Ron Cey, Rick Austin, Phil Westendorf, Marv Chamberlain, Joe McIntosh and my old buddy from Yakima, Don Crow.

Senior outfielder Jay Miller, by the way, is steadily inching toward inclusion on that same gilded list. At the rate he's going, he should supplant former Major Leaguer Mike Kinkade as WSU's all-time hits leader in about three weeks. Another lad who is turning heads this season is freshman pitcher/outfielder Jared Prince of Poulsbo. He's hitting .431 with a team-leading 31 RBI and has a 4-0 record and 0.36 ERA in 25 innings of mound work.

And in case you missed it, head coach Don Marbut's incoming class of recruits has been rated among the top 25 in the nation.

FINALLY, HAT'S OFF TO long-time Oregon athletic director Bill Moos. Despite his green sportcoat and yellow tie, the one-time WSU player and associate AD is still a big fan of the Cougars. In a phone call the other day with our executive editor, who is leading an effort to get former WSU coach Lone Star Dietz inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and trying to enlist support from luminaries around the nation, Moos' crimson roots came shining through. Growing up outside Spokane in the tiny town of Edwall, he became a huge Cougar fan and still has newspaper clippings from some of the great Cougar victories of his youth. He also, proudly, can tell you the name of every starter -- plus the kicker and punter -- on the Cougars' fabled Cardiac Kids team of 1965.

Cougfan Top Stories