"I just want our guys to play with a sense of urgency, battle their guts out, bring as much soundness as we talked about after the Stanford game and see where that puts us at the end of the year," Bennett said during his weekly teleconference. "That, quite honestly, is where I'm at, as opposed to looking at records and numbers and what this team is doing and what that team is doing."
After losing five of their past six games, including road losses at Stanford and California last week, the Cougars are 12-11 overall and 4-7 (eighth place) in the Pac-10. They have home games remaining against Oregon (7 p.m. tomorrow, no TV), Oregon State on Saturday (4 p.m., FSN), Arizona State and Arizona and road games at UCLA, USC and Washington.
The situation with this season's young team is a far cry from the past two years when the Cougars played in consecutive NCAA tournaments – as a No. 3 seed in 2007 when they beat Oral Roberts and lost to Vanderbilt in overtime and as a No. 4 seed last year, when they beat Winthrop and Notre Dame before losing to North Carolina in a Sweet 16 game.
Having the experience that comes from playing in an NCAA tournament is something Bennett would like for his young team this year.
"I think the valuable thing about post-season play, without a doubt, is just the experience," Bennett said. "Nonconference to conference play is different. Conference play to Pac-10 tournament play is different. Pac-10 tournament play to NCAA tournament play is completely different.
"Those experiences, just for the consistency of your program, can really be helpful."
Meanwhile, the Oregon Ducks are coming to Pullman without a Pac-10 win. They lost to the Cougars earlier this season in Eugene, 74-62.
"They've played 20 minutes, 30 minutes of good basketball and then had some stretches that really hurt them," Bennett said of the Ducks. "They'll be a team as hungry as can be."
As for the Cougars?
"For us, it comes down to playing with a sense or urgency at home and taking what they did against Cal and building on it," Bennett said.
Bennett said he liked the way the Cougars played in their most recent game, a 71-63 loss at Cal.
"It was one of our better games," Bennett said. "But it wasn't enough."