WSU Roundup: Polls, Alfred and more

THE COUGS WILL likely be picked last in the annual Pac-10 preseason media poll Thursday, but history shows that's not such a bad thing. Washington State has been picked to finish last seven times since the Pac-8 grew into the Pac-10 in 1978, but only once (1999) did the media prove correct. Not long ago, Wazzu also was late season contenders for the Pac-10 crown one year after being tabbed last.

The media did correctly predict the Cougars' most recent first-place finish (in 2002). However, during that 2001-2003 stretch when WSU won 10 games each season, Washington State was picked to finish tenth and seventh in '01 and '03. WSU ended up tied for second in '01 and second outright in '03.

Further, WSU came in seventh in the 1997 poll, and the Cougars wound up with their first conference title and Rose Bowl appearance since the 1930 season.

(The Pac-10 considers ties in years when identical league records result so WSU officially was a co-champion in 1997 and 2002 with UCLA and USC, respectively. The Cougars, however, won the head to head matchup with both teams those years, and won the Rose Bowl berth awarded to the first place team.)

-- Alfred leads: One of the football team's weakest areas last year -- partly due to a never-ending siege of injuries -- was the offensive line.

WSU head man Paul Wulff starred at center during his playing days at WSU and can be quite demanding of the hosses up front. Wulff, however, has high hopes for the O-line as the start of fall camp (Aug. 9) nears.

"We lose only one player from last year (starting left tackle Vaughn Lesuma) and seven players return who started games last season," Wulff said.

Senior center Kenny Alfred, a mainstay in the lineup since he made eight starts as a freshman and who will accompany Wulff at media day this year, is the only returning Cougar who received all-conference honors last season (honorable mention). Coming off hip surgery, Alfred made the Rimington Trophy preseason watch list for college football's top center for the second straight year.

"Kenny is where it all starts," Wulff said. "He has the most game experience and is a very good football player."

-- Pac-10 Interactive: For the first time, fans may watch live and submit questions to coaches and players during the annual Pacific-10 Conference Football Media Day.

The head coach and one player from each Pac-10 school will be available in 15-minute sessions from 9:45 a.m.-12:25 p.m. Thursday at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles. Wulff and center Alfred are the first scheduled speakers from 9:45 - 10:00 a.m.

Live streaming of Media Day may be found at various sites, including and Webcast host Steve Physioc, who will be broadcasting Pac-10 games on Fox Sports Net, will select the best questions tweeted by fans any time in advance or during Media Day at

New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is set to speak at both 9:35 a.m. and 12:25 p.m.

-- Nameck healthy: Bud Nameck, the sideline reporter for Cougar football radio broadcasts, said he's received a clean bill of health so far after undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma in the spring.

"Things are going well," Nameck said. "No complaints on the health front. The doctors told me they don't want to see me for six months."

In addition to his football duties, Nameck is the WSU men's basketball play-by-play man, who took over for Robertson in 1994.

-- Robertson ready: Bob Robertson gave up his summer job to take care of wife Joanne as she deals with health problems, but the 80-year-old Robertson said he's ready for his 43rd season as the radio play-by-play voice of the WSU football team.

Robertson has broadcast Spokane Indians minor league baseball games since 1999, but he's only worked sporadically this season. He's spent most of his time taking care of his bride of 57 years at their home in the Tacoma suburb of University Place.

"Two-and-a-half to three months away from her (the Indians' full season) just wouldn't work out," Robertson said.

Joanne is fighting back from a heart attack and other health issues.

"She's improving slowly," Robertson said. "She's getting better. It's going to be a long haul."

-- Dillon in playoffs: Ex-Cougar wide receiver Charles Dillon and the top-ranked Spokane Shock open the arenafootball2 playoffs Saturday against visiting Stockton, Calif.

Dillon is tied for second on the 15-1 Shock with 18 touchdown catches. He ranks third on the team with 75 catches and 868 receiving yards in 13 games.

The Shock averages 61 points per game -- which only ties for third in the 25-team league, believe it or not -- and routinely draws sellout crowds of 10,000-plus at the Spokane Arena.

-- Motum strain: A spokesperson for Australia's national basketball program said the calf injury suffered by highly touted Washington State recruit Brock Motum is only a strain, a Cougar spokesperson said this week. Motum was practicing with the Boomers, the senior men's national basketball team, at the time of the injury. The tryouts were to determine the Boomers squad that is representing Australia in the South America tour.

Earlier this summer Motum played with the Emus, the junior national team. A 6-foot-9 forward, Motum led Australia with 13.6 points per game at the Under-19 World Championships. WSU's Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto played on the U.S. team that won the tournament.

-- Bonine recalled: The Cougars briefly placed a second former baseball player in the major leagues when Detroit recalled pitcher Eddie Bonine from Triple-A Toledo, Ohio.

Bonine pitched six solid innings, giving up seven hits and three runs, but did not get the decision in Detroit's 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox last Friday. He was sent back to Toledo after the game.

Bonine, who turned pro in 2003, reached the majors for the first time last year and posted a 2-1 record in five midseason starts with Detroit. He appeared in four games in relief with the Tigers at the start of this season before returning to Toledo, where he is 2-1 with a 4.67 earned run average in 12 starts.

Former WSU basketball star Mark Hendrickson, a relief pitcher with Baltimore, is the only Cougar active in the majors. The 6-foot-9 southpaw is 5-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 30 games.

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