HARMELING: Sizing up a cheap shot king & more

IN A COLUMN last week previewing the Cougar-Husky basketball game, I took the high road and chose to not mention any player from UW by name when I was talking about cheap shot artists. Forget that. Here you go: Venoy Overton.

He has been and proved again on Saturday that he still is a dirty player. Did anyone else pick up on what I saw? Right around the 16-minute mark in the second half, Klay Thompson missed a lay-up going up with his left hand. Out of frustration, he tried to tie up the ball and got a silly foul.

During the dead ball, nearly everyone else had vacated to the other side of the floor. Klay sauntered to the other end in the open court, which usually isn't noteworthy -- except for the fact he was near the Cheap Shot King. Venoy was walking briskly toward the scorer's table but changes stride at the last second so he can conveniently intersect with Klay. Overton reaches out with his foot to step on Klay's shoe in attempt to trip him at mid court.


All this during a dead ball.

Thankfully, Klay happens to be a well coordinated athlete on top of being one of the best players in the Pac-10, so he didn't end up on his face.

If you didn't notice the play, please go back and check it out on DVR. Your opinion on it will turn from innocent to blatant in a heartbeat. Venoy is a big boy, but he chooses not to act like it. He's quick. He's pesky. He's physical. He's an excellent on-ball defender. In fact, if he would just do that within the confines of the game, I would LOVE to have him on my team.

But tripping players at half-court, during a dead-ball? Are you kidding me?

That's nonsense. Look, Venoy: You're a great player. You changed the game on Saturday. You amp your team up. But you could have done the same without the whining and cheap shots. You're not a freshman anymore. Grow up.

AS FOR THE GAME ITSELF, the second half was forgettable. But the first was a dandy. How about Reggie Moore's steal and dunk combo? No words I write will do it justice. You had to see it. If you weren't recording it, I told you a few months ago to have the TiVo ready for Mr. Moore!

Another bright spot was the play of Xavier Thames. I've always raved about Reggie's I'm-Not-Intimidated-In-Fact-I'm-Going-To-Dunk-On-You mentality, but I'm starting to believe we've got another freshman in that boat (minus the dunk part) in X. He didn't back down and drained some tough shots -- despite being in a potentially tough spot filling in for Klay in the starting line-up. Perhaps more than the mid-range game, I loved to see him not back down from Pondexter.

By the way, if any Husky fans are screaming about the no-call when James Watson bumped Quicy Pondexter, I can understand. James shouldn't have done that, but I'd LOVE to see the antics Quicy pulled during the possessions leading up to that. It's incredible how much the cameras don't show. And a quick sidenote: If the announcers never call Pondexter "Qoupon" again I'd be okay with it.

Other observations from Saturday's game ....

1) Rebounding. Wow. I'm speechless. I go nuts telling my JV kids to block out, and I found myself doing to same on Saturday. The Huskies have always been relentless on the glass, so you do have to give them credit for that. But seven rebounds on one possession? Doesn't cut it at Hec Ed.

2) Finishing. I feel the Cougs got great looks most of the time. However, once we got in the paint it seemed like we thought the job was over. On three occasions we set them up for volleyball spikes. Again, give them credit for being active around the rim, but we're got to finish better in the paint if we want to win down the stretch. It should be noted that I ventured into the paint no more than four times in four years, but that's the beauty of being on the other side of a playing career.

3) Effort. I hate to say it. I don't want to say it. But you probably saw it too. Sometime between the nine and eight minute mark in the second half, the Cougs looked like they quit.

But you're out of your mind if you think I'm quitting on the Cougs this year, and you shouldn't either. Because the conference is too wide open. Because they've shown too much upside. Because they've got the best freshman in the conference. Because they've got the best player in the conference. Because Coach Bone and his troops deserve undying support.

Most importantly, because we're Cougs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daven Harmeling was a mainstay on the Washington State basketball team – and a fixture on the Pac-10 All-Academic team – during the most successful three-year stretch in Cougar history. Part of Dick Bennett's stellar recruiting class of 2004, this Grand Junction, Colo., product completed his eligibility last season and now is in Vancouver, Wash., running clinics for Dan Dickau Basketball, coaching high school ball, and working as a substitute teacher. He is writing a regular column for Cougfan.com this season.

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