What They're Saying: WSU just warming up?

THERE WAS NO shortage of pithy prose flowing on the subject of Washington State's victory over Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tourney. As the Cougars dispatched Notre Dame -- and now head to the Sweet 16 in Charlotte -- from Washington state to Washington D.C., from Chicago to Seattle and from points in between, here's what they're saying.

"There he stood, the man who brought life to the Washington State men's basketball program, at the players-only entrance at Pepsi Center. While coach at Wisconsin, Dick Bennett had been where this Cougars team was trying to get to Saturday – the Sweet 16, and possibly beyond, in the NCAA tournament...As players passed him, his eyes locked on theirs. He had one message to relay: "No fears, no regrets." Then the Cougars went out and played their best game this season."
-- Todd Milles, Tacoma News Tribune

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"In the moments before they met Notre Dame here Saturday, Washington State basketball players were met by the architect of their program. "No fear, no regrets," Dick Bennett told them. There was none of either at the Pepsi Center, in the most golden moment for the WSU program since it went to the NCAA final in 1941."
-- Bud Withers, Seattle Times

"Entranced with the Cougars' effort, reporters probed for answers...Whenever you think this team has reached its peak, it raises its level of play. The Cougars are a legitimate threat to advance even deeper in this tournament. Yes, even if North Carolina wins today. The Cougars would face their greatest challenge yet if they play the Tar Heels in Charlotte, but with the way this team is defending, they can play with anyone. They belong with the elite now."
-- Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times

"Tradition is supposed to be as much of a religion as, well, religion at Notre Dame, but the Irish did not wear the blue and gold Saturday. Perhaps they were dressing for a funeral, not comprehending it was their own.
-- John Blanchette, Spokesman Review

"They double, switch and anticipate, though it's a lot more complicated than that. It seems like they kick, scratch and gouge, but it's not that gruesome. Whatever took place, Winthrop never recovered from it on opening night and Notre Dame never got started against it on Saturday."
-- Dan Raley, Seattle PI

"Kyle Weaver smiled constantly Saturday night, an odd countenance for a player who makes the game so maddening for his opponent. No matter what the Washington State guard did -- pass the ball, watch from the bench, argue with an official -- he grinned like someone who knows a secret and isn't telling."
-- Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

"Kyle Weaver said his Washington State basketball team doesn't use magic or appeal to the dark arts to win games. It just appears that way."
-- Joe E. Cervi, The Pueblo Chieftain

"Slow wins. Defense wins. They aren't popular, they aren't TV-friendly and they don't necessarily have to go together. But they work beautifully as a tandem for the Washington State Cougars. And now that Wazzu is farther in the NCAA tournament than it has been in 67 years, they both deserve a nod."
-- Joe Rexrode, Yahoo! Sports

"The Washington State fans sensed the outcome. The cacophony from one corner of the arena, louder even than when the starters came out, built until it was fully released at the final buzzer."
-- John Branch, New York Times

"The Cougars will play North Carolina or Arkansas in Charlotte, N.C. But for one night, they could relish giving the Irish a basketball lesson."
-- Irv Moss, The Denver Post

"(For the biggest disappointment Saturday), how about the Irish of Notre Dame. Only 41 points when they average about 83. What happened?..When you look at how it didn't work out for them. Ooh. Ugly. Washington State just shut 'em down defensively. That was the difference. That really hurts."
-- Digger Phelps, ESPN broadcaster and former Notre Dame coach

"So stellar was WSU's defensive effort it was easy to overlook the Cougars' efficiency on offense: The first half was almost 16 minutes old before they committed a turnover."
-- John McGrath, Tacoma News Tribune

"As with any mythical entity, there had been a bit of exaggeration about the Washington State defense..Two games into an NCAA tournament run, after a 61-41 demolition Saturday of Notre Dame, it appears the Cougars have steel-reinforced their defensive wall. In its last three halves, Washington State has allowed opponents 21.8 percent shooting..With those numbers, no embellishment is necessary."
-- Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune

"Washington State will play an NCAA third-round game for the first time since 1941, and for that, Cougars fans can thank some of the Pac-10 players they love to berate. Southern California's O.J. Mayo. Washington's Jon Brockman. UCLA's Kevin Love.'We were in a league where (there is) a lot of good offensive talent, a lot of good offensive players,'...Robbie Cowgill said after Washington State held Notre Dame to a season-low for points in a 61-41 win Saturday. 'That obviously helps your team D.'"
-- Vicki Michaelis, USA TODAY

"If Notre Dame and the subway alumni didn't know much about Washington State, they know now. The No. 5-seeded Cougars may look scruffy and unimposing, but they imposed their will Saturday, drubbing the No. 4 Irish 61-41 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1941, when the NCAA tournament only invited 16 teams."
-- Herb Gould, Chicago Sun Times

"Low's 3 with 8 minutes left capped an 8-0 spurt that put Washington State ahead 52-35. By then, Harangody was throwing up a brick and McAlarney was getting whistled for carrying the ball, and the Irish, beset by scoring droughts like never before this season, were making the kinds of silly mistakes they had avoided all year while winning a program-best 14 Big East games."
-- Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press

"The Irish offense was so inept you'd have thought Charlie Weis was coaching it."
-- John Blanchette, Spokesman Review

"The Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn't know what hit 'em. It was Washington State's suffocating defense and patient, slow-down offense."
-- The Dayton Daily News

"Washington State clogged the lane, effectively eliminating the top player from the Big East Conference, and pestered Notre Dame's three-point marksmen relentlessly. The result was the worst shooting performance of the season for the Fighting Irish and a berth in the Sweet 16 for the Cougars."
-- Pat Rooney, Rocky Mountain News

"Unable to get any semblance of its high-octane, ball-movement offense in gear, No. 5 seed Notre Dame's season came to a decisive and disappointing close with a 61-41 loss at the Pepsi Center to defensive-minded and No. 4 seed Washington State...It was the fewest points scored by the Irish in Brey's eight seasons, and the fewest in school history for an NCAA Tournament game. The Irish have not scored so few points overall in any game since a 52-42 loss to South Carolina on Feb. 4, 1984."
-- Tom Noie, South Bend Tribune

"In a clash of styles, this one was no contest. Washington State shut down Notre Dame's high-flying Fighting Irish in a 61-41 stunner in the second round of the East Regional on Saturday night, slowing the pace and all but shutting down the Big East's Player of the Year."
-- The Canadian Press

"Kyle Weaver jokingly said there isn't any voodoo or magic involved with the Washington State defense. But ask Notre Dame after Washington State dismantled the Irish 61-41 in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and the fifth-seeded Irish (25-8) might think the fourth-seeded Cougars (26-8) do something from another world."
-- Michael Rothstein, The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

"Playing with swagger and a swarming defense, fourth-seeded Washington State sent the beast of the Big East, Notre Dame, packing with a 61-41 laugher Saturday."
-- Tom Kensler, The Denver Post

"In a battle of great offense against outstanding defense, the defense won -- convincingly."
-- Tim Prister, Indianapolis Star

"They racked Notre Dame, arguably college basketball's most efficient offensive team, battering them in ways that even an impressive stat sheet could not demonstrate. This time, in this second round, the Cougars refused to be disappointed."
-- Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times

"...a poignant moment when Dick's son Tony strode a few rows up into the seats, shared a long hug with his dad and a kiss with his mom, Anne, while a section of crimson around them soaked in the ecstasy. Sweet. The Cougars wrote another chapter in one of college basketball's most extraordinary stories the past two seasons, befuddling Notre Dame and its Big East player of the year, Luke Harangody, in a 61-41 mauling of the Irish."
-- Bud Withers, Seattle Times

"It started with the Cougars squeezing the life out of Notre Dame's beloved transition attack – as they do with most every opponent – and making the Irish play in the half-court. Apparently, the Irish don't play as well there – Wazzu made them look even worse – and 3-Point Jesus was no help this night."
-- John Blanchette, Spokesman Review

"Next stop: Charlotte. Against whom? Nobody really cares at this point."
-- Todd Milles, Tacoma News Tribune

Plus one from coach Bennett:
"Caleb (Forrest) gave us a great lift early. People who haven't seen him for a while look at him. Like I said, he doesn't move the smoothest, but he was aggressive, loosening up, knocking down shots at very timely times, opportune times for us. There were some stretches where we weren't scoring. Him to loosen the defense up with that shot was good. He gives you all effort. You know, he had five rebounds, too, in 15 minutes."
-- Tony Bennett, WSU head coach

Tickets for Charlotte: Beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday the 23rd, and at the top of each hour thereafter, a successively larger group of donors will have access to purchasing tickets based on their TPS ranking. The higher a donor's ranking, the sooner their account will be "unlocked" to purchase NCAA Tournament tickets. There is a limit of four tickets per individual. Log in and click here for complete details: CF.C message board post.

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