As we near the day of our independence, Washington State University's financial year is over. That means they are looking forward to the next year and while E-Flo organizes his receipts for books, professors and Rogaine, we'll take a look at the good and bad of the Cougar athletic year. We give you five best and worst moments and here's a hint, number one in each has to do with Cougar football. Let's begin with the bottom five and finish with the top, because I always like to end on a good note.
The Worst in 2007-08
#5: Men's basketball loses to California
The Cougars' first home loss of the year was to the team that eventually finished second-to-last in the Pacific 10. Add to that, the fact that this started a three-game skid at home. This really put a damper on the fact that WSU had cancelled class that day and the next due to excessive snowfall. It worked out for the best; I hear the basketball team did just fine.
#4: Women's basketball falls to Alaska-Anchorage
It may have been an exhibition, but it was nonetheless a Division II team. The Seawolves knocked off the Cougars in overtime (why do you play overtime in an exhibition?) to start a season that was expected to be bad for the women anyway. Although they were only able to win six games last year, look for the women to improve next year with a great recruiting class from June Daugherty.
#3: Cougar women's soccer misses the NCAA Tournament
The women got completely overlooked by the selection committee for no discernable reason. Teams with fewer wins (Colorado, Clemson, Alabama A&M) got into the tournament and the women play in a tough conference with powerhouse UCLA and beat eventual national champion USC. Hopefully the team can rebound in the coming year after losing a host of seniors.
#2: Ross Humes gives up eight runs in the top of the ninth to Arizona State
Going into the top of the ninth inning, Wazzu had a five run lead and was looking to take a series from one of the best teams in the country. The game was back and forth until Matt Way came in with one out in the top of fifth and shut down the Devils for no runs over 3 2/3 innings. Head coach Don Marbut called in closer Humes in a non-save situation in the 9th and Arizona State belted three homeruns to take a three run lead. The worst part?
Way had thrown only 51 pitches and could've pitched the ninth.
#1: Cougar football gets destroyed by Oregon State in Pullman
Nothing good can be said about this day. For one, I stayed in town a few extra days for this so I wanted a win. Two, no one was at the game and Martin Stadium was essentially empty. Three, it was an absolute monsoon and it was just warm enough to be raining. Fourth, the Cougars never stood a chance, mostly because on Alex Brink's senior day, he threw six interceptions. The team just looked downtrodden and miserable for all 60 minutes. This had to be the lowest of the low points for any Cougar team this year.
The Best in 2007-08
#5: Men's basketball ends its winless drought against Oregon
After waiting in line for nine hours (a wait that included playing Xbox) myself and Cougar fans were treated to a great back-and-forth match where the Cougars took the lead for the first time with 1:03 remaining in the game. I lost my voice at this game starting numerous "Lets Go Cougars" chants and just shouting in general. Beasley Coliseum was as electric as it has ever been on this night.
#4: Jayson Miller pitches a one run complete game at Husky Ballpark
Miller had other brilliant pitching performances during the year but this one stands out because it was in front of the Montlake Mob. Miller mixes his pitches brilliantly and was fooling the Husky hitters all day. In a stadium that was colored half crimson, Miller put a muzzle on the Husky offense and survived a late inning jinx from yours truly (I commented he was working on a shutout) in the bottom half of the ninth.
#3: Men's basketball crushes USC on national television
Despite the fact that the game began before noon which is way too early on the weekend, the Cougars put on a show for a national audience. From my seat on the baseline, I was treated to Kyle Weaver's total domination of O.J. Mayo. Near the end of the game, when some students talked Steve Lavin into putting a Cougar hat on, it was icing on the cake.
#2: Men's basketball reaches the Sweet Sixteen
After holding a high scoring Notre Dame offense to just 40 points, the Cougars were defeated by the North Carolina powerhouse in the Sweet Sixteen. But more important than the game was how far the team had come and the journey they had taken everyone on. After two years of going to every game and camping in the snow and cold and going through the motions of every win and loss, this was a great reward.
#1: Alex Brink's 35-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson in the Apple Cup
This game looked bad when Louis Rankin ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. But after a few bad possessions, the Cougar offense started to click and Brink was quietly putting together one of the best games for a quarterback in Apple Cup history. With the ball on the 35-yard line, a breakdown in the Husky secondary left Gibson all alone and Brink lobbed a gorgeous pass into his waiting arms for the go ahead touchdown. The eruption of Cougar fans behind me at Husky Stadium was incredible.
What will be the best next year? I'll go with a football upset of USC. I'm probably wrong, but if I'm right, I'm a genius.
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