The Cougar Lounge - Foiled By Aluminum

"We don't usually let teams execute their stuff and we did. Washington State deserved to win. They played harder than we did. That's really hard for me to say as a coach."
- Arizona State head women's hoop coach Charlie Turner-Thorne after Wazzu upset the Sun Devils in Tempe last week.
"Pizza Hut."
- Current San Diego State and former Wazzu athletic director Jim Sterk after Michigan athletic director - and former Dominos Pizza CEO - Dave Brandon breached AD protocol and failed to contact Sterk about interest in head coach Brady Hoke who was ultimately hired by Michigan, when asked by a reporter if he would have Dominos or Pizza Hut pizza.
"You have a college of voters who vote more with their heart than they vote with their head."
- FIFA president Sepp Blatter attempting to explain why Qatar and Russia were selected as the next two World Cup hosts over England and the USA in 2018 and 2022.
"For three hours every year, Hollywood is scared to death of me. It's great."
- British comedian Ricky Gervais, after delivering yet another scathing emcee performance - reminiscent of famed Dean Martin roastings - at this year's Golden Globe award show, skewering such Hollywood thin skins as Robert Downey, Jr., Bruce Willis and Tim Allen and, of course, as always, the easy targets… Charlie Sheen, Cher and Mel Gibson.
In general, people tend to be averse to the idea of excess - at least when it goes to the point of extravagance - and when it gets to the point of ridicule, then nearly everybody can be in agreement with exception, naturally, of those directly or indirectly involved in the travesty. Two fine examples of this phenomenon can be found in college football - the BCS Taliban and University of Oregon football uniforms [an institutional affliction which seems to have bounced over to hoops as well]. Apparently there was some sort of so-called "national championship" game played a couple weeks ago. An undefeated TCU team was not involved so it is difficult to take seriously any game calling itself a national championship without involving an as-yet undefeated team at the end of the year. But, whatever. Those directly or indirectly involved are blind to the fiasco. Unfortunately, most of America is not blind, and that means, if they had even the slightest bit of interest - and cable television - they would have to watch yet another version of Oregon's uniforms being trotted out on the field that evening. Let's get this straight right here and now - Oregon's official school colors are green and yellow. Sure, they are speaking out of all sides of their mouths now about what colors they can use ever since Nike owner and Oregon alum Phil Knight has been supplying them with an apparel closet for the last 15 years but Oregon's colors are two - green and yellow. In the football game played two weeks ago, the Ducks wore neither green nor yellow unless you count neon hues as representative of an actual full-fledged color. Oregon's football team not only wears different colors than its traditional school colors but their locker room contains five different jersey versions supplemented by four different helmet, sock and cleat varieties. Since Oregon made it to the pinnacle of a pretend system masterminded by a megalomaniacal pseudo-organization, now the time has come for the public to finally decide Oregon's athletic sartorial fate - inaccurate, overkill and stupid or merely overkill and stupid?
The college football bowl game season is, thankfully - in the case of 28 of the 35 bowl games - over and when picking through the refuse of the aftermath to see if there was any redeemable qualities to bring forth in December that might help reduce the college football bowl game waste products, only two items stand above the smelly fray - the Tournament of Roses parade and the cookie toss. If the NCAA ever does overthrow their BCS Taliban overlords and do what they do with all there other sports - create a national playoff for their top division of football - then the only distinct casualties will be the Tournament of Roses parade associated with the Rose Bowl and the cookie toss newly associated with the former Emerald Bowl but now called the tongue-mangling Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The Tournament of Roses parade is one of the college football traditions that is irreplaceable - too bad the Rose Bowl did not see themselves the same way. The Emerald Bowl in San Francisco was nice enough but was on the verge of college football obscurity and having Kraft as a major sponsor this year and changing the bowl game's name to that unwieldy collection of letters did not bode well - but any college football game that has a pre-game cookie toss to decide the kickoff rather than a traditional coin toss is on the Lounge's good side. Change can be good, the line is difficult to find but when it is found, if it can be tasty, so much the better.
Oregon's loss in the so-called "national championship" game did not hurt much in the overall scheme of things but it did hurt CougZone a little in the final standings of the Phil Steele Bowl Game Pick'em. CZ had the Ducks winning that game [but was least confident about it than any of the other bowl games] and Oregon's loss meant Phil surpassed CZ by 15 points [382-367] in the final tally. Still, CZ had a semi-respectable 18-17 overall record and hit four out five of our most confident picks to make a massive 1569th place tie not sound too bad, well, with a little vodka, anyway.
The eagerly-awaited Onion SportsDome debuted on Comedy Central this month and the Lounge clientele was anxious to see what a parody of ESPN SportsCenter might do. Would they go all Ricky Gervais on ESPN or pull some punches or just wildly flail and miss - swing, batter, batter….swing! A little of each, we are afraid to say and we are afraid to say that because it means inconsistency….which is probably to be expected out of the gate. The bit about the NBA commissioner David Stern agreeing to change 27 league rules so that the Miami Heat and their three star players can more easily win the league championship is most humorous and has definite BCS Taliban connections, the overbearing tennis parents driving their teenage kids to the pro circuit is a moderate success and the bit on the Clippers is a miss as is a couple other bits. Overall, it is worth a second viewing attempt - there are eight episodes in the next two months - and perhaps they will hone the humor more efficiently in those weeks.
The crack Lounge research department has been notified that the top 10 pet names for 2010 have finally been tabulated and the Lounge is officially calling voter fraud in this one. Why? It is obvious - see if it does not stand out in the results. According to Pet Veterinary Insurance [already suspect], the top name for a dog in 2010 was Bella - which also happened to be the #2 name for a cat and the #7 name for exotic pets. What!? Bella? This is an all-purpose name for any species? What is even more bunk is that Bailey is listed at #2 for dogs and Max is in the top spot for cats - and the #3 spot for dogs and #8 spot for exotics. The top spot for exotics is Charlie - which also happens to be the 9th-most and 10th-most popular dog and cat names. What this tells us is that, basically, the PVI is the BCS Taliban of pet names. Look, Bella, Charlie and Max should not show up in all three top 10 lists and who names their dog Bailey? Dog name - Rufus. Cat name - Cougar. Exotic name - Stroppy or Charo [hey, it is an exotic, it should be different]. End of discussion.
"Well, that was painful," says Kent Renton after the Wazzu men's hoop team lost to Arizona in a Big Dance showdown game in Pullman.
This was particularly painful on numerous fronts, Kent. First and foremost, this was the type of game Wazzu had to win for two reasons - to prove to themselves they are worthy of NCAA tournament consideration and to prove that that to the NCAA selection committee. Losing a home game to a beatable Wildcat team not only directly hurt their official NCAA RPI numbers but also hurt their perception in the NCAA selection committee eyeballs. Wazzu is - in the best, most glossiest view from a Cougar fan and well-wisher - an NCAA bubble team after this game. The Cougars will have to win their next five games to dispel that bubble status perception and they will, unquestionably, have to achieve a minimum of 10 Pac-10 regular season victories [and/or fourth place] this year to expect to receive serious consideration by the notoriously fickle NCAA selection committee. A fifth-place finish in the Pac-10 this year will, most likely, be a bubble team whose bubble gets burst. The other painful aspect of this game was the play of junior guard Klay Thompson - Wazzu's star player and the conference's leading scorer coming into this game. Thompson, who has been mentioned as a possible NBA first-round draft pick this year, had a horrific game. In what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the year - prior to next week's game with rival Washington - Thompson was expected to be the rock that the Cougars would always have to get the wins. Thompson could have some sub-par games, but this could not be one of them. Unfortunately for Thompson and Cougar fans and well-wishers, it was. Not only did Thompson not score in double digits, but he missed a pair of free throws on a technical foul as well as the final, potential, game-tying shot. Essentially, it was a nightmare game for Thompson and the Cougars but it also may have showed why Thompson is not ready to make the NBA jump this year. Any player designated as a team's best player, can be allowed bad games, but they cannot have them in their team's big games - those are the situations where the team needs that player the most. Junior Marcus Capers has stepped up his game recently and once again logged a double digit scoring game against Arizona - had Thompson had one of his typical games - even with the injury slowing Faisal Aden, Wazzu would have likely won easily. But Thompson did not have one of his usual games, making that a moot point, sending the Cougars into a challenging position and the NBA scouts with a clear picture of Thompson needing one more year of seasoning.
"I haven't figured out this team yet," says Anne Droid after the Wazzu women's hoop team upset California and Arizona State but was throttled by Stanford and defeated by a beatable Arizona team.
Well, Anne, there are two trends which appear to be dictating the Cougars' outcomes in these conference games so far. Too many turnovers, no reliably consistent presence in the paint and a low shooting percentage all add up to losses while low turnovers and high perimeter shooting percentages add up to wins. Specifically with shooting, in Wazzu's wins over California and Arizona State, they averaged 52% shooting from the field and an astounding 54% from beyond the three-point arc - numbers that will be difficult to maintain throughout the season. In the Cougar losses to Stanford and Arizona, the numerals were markedly different - 28% from the field and 31.5% from beyond the arc. It seems fairly clear that Wazzu has to have a combination of low turnovers and good outside shooting [to be defined as at least 40%] in order to win Pac-10 games this year. That is a tall order to have as a constant challenge and the Cougars will be under pressure to produce consistent 40% or above shooting numbers if they want to get into double-digit win territory.
The whims of modern day society are never structurally sound as when they are displayed on Twitter - a social and technological insight into the brains of humans that, regrettably, one is usually sorry they saw. But like an accident on the information superhighway, passing non-Twitterites must crane their necks to see what is in the middle of the multi-car pileup this minute, hour, day, week or even a month - an eternity in the brains of Twitterites. For this glimpse into what goes through a typical Twitterites' brain impulses at all the aforementioned moments, there is Trendistic. Not surprisingly, the usual suspects - Chloe Kardashian, Lady GaGa and Cody Simpson [aka, the Australian Justin Bieber] are in the minute and hour time frame.
The Lounge Scientists were devastated to learn - no, not really - that the astrology charts that they had been relying on for all their important research and discoveries over the years have been proven to be off by about 2000 years and worse yet - that there was a new 13th sign in the zodiac that, evidently, was the runt of the litter and got tossed out of the tropical zodiac house years ago. That would be Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, for those born between November 30 and December 17.
"Astronomers have known about this since about 130 B.C.," says Lounge Scientist #13, Parke Kunkle, an astronomer at Minneapolis Community and Technical College who, reportedly, was not alive back then - at least not in his present-day form.
Phil Knight is now busily negotiating with astronomers to see if some kind of apparel deal can be made out with the newly re-discovered Ophiuchusians and already has three serpent hat prototypes.
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