1 point, plus Oregon schools, improve outlook

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a single point can make. Washington State's narrow victory over Stanford on Saturday has turned the crimson hoops forecast from cloudy to partly sunny. Heck, with the Oregon schools – the Beavers on Thursday and Ducks on Saturday – carrying a collective 1-7 Pac-10 record, you could say the Cougs' near-term outlook borders on bright.

The Beavers are 6-8 overall and 1-3 in conference play, while the Ducks – off to their worst start since 1993 – are 6-10 and 0-4. WSU is 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the conference.

The Ducks offer particular intrigue because head coach Ernie Kent and leading scorer Tajuan Porter appear to be reading from different song sheets. In Oregon's 76-58 loss to ASU on Saturday, Kent benched Porter – as well as fellow starter Joevan Catron – in the second half. According to reports, Kent was unhappy with Porter for not diving after a loose ball. When Kent approached him to discuss the matter, Porter waved him off.

OSU offers some intrigue of its own. The Beavers, a punching bag in recent years, appear to have new life under first-year coach Craig Robinson. They pulled off an overtime shocker over USC in the first week of Pac-10 action and were within striking distance Saturday of Arizona fairly late before falling 64-47. The highlight was Robinson getting ejected after arguing a call too strenuously. "That was the point at which I wanted our guys to know that I wasn't allowing them to get pushed around any longer," Robinson said. "I wanted to sort of stand up for them.''

Both of the Cougars' games to the Williamette Valley will be televised on FSN. Tip off Thursday is 6 pm and Saturday's is 11 am.

WSU was 5-0 against the Beavs and Ducks a year ago, including a win over Oregon in the Pac-10 tournament.

TAYLOR ROCHESTIE, who hit the winning basket against Stanford on Saturday, has scored 19 points in each of his last two games. That's great news for the crimson faithful. After a cold hand for much of the season, he may be catching fire at just the right time.

ISAAC FONTAINE, the most prolific scorer in WSU hoops history, will be inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor the weekend of the Pac-10 tournament. Fontaine, now and accountant in Sacramento, is the only Cougar to score 2,000 points in a career. He started 90 straight games at WSU. The Cougs made three-straight post-season appearances in his career, going to the Big Dance once and the NIT twice.

Ike was named first-team all-Pac-10 in 1996 and '97. Fontaine also holds the WSU all-time career best mark for 3-point percentage (.457). He played professionally overseas and had a brief regular-season stint with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. Previous WSU inductees into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor include Craig Ehlo, James Donaldson and Fontaine's old teammate on the Cougars' 1994 NCAA Tourney team, Mark Hendrickson.


Cougfan Top Stories