The Cougar Lounge - Holiday Runoff

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"That's how the Pac-10 conference is going to be. Teams are going to be physical. Teams are going to beat you up. It's not going to be easy. I think that's how every game is going to be."
- Wazzu senior guard Derrick Low, after the physical win over the Huskies – signaling good news for Washington's Jon Brockman – if every game is officiated like this one, he can begin practicing his rhino-like shoulder dip and forearm push-off more earnestly.
"I saw that report and called Walker right away. He said it wasn't true, we're going to talk."
- New UCLA head football coach Rick Neuheisel, commenting on the premature Sporting News report that Bruins' defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker was going to Washington. What!? A report from a traditional news source is wrong!? Must be that dang internet's fault again! In an unrelated note, the Lounge notes that 2008 is the Year of the Rat.
"Everybody likes to say this is a great place to raise a family but a lot of stuff goes on here, political stuff, I guess it happens everywhere if you're the best athlete or the best basketball player. People talk."
- UCLA freshman center Kevin Love, reminiscing fondly of his Lake Oswego, Oregon high school years when gyms failed to sell out during his games and people were talking –about him choosing not to go to Oregon.
"I would have been Rose Bowl queen but my wig fell off during the semifinals."
- Legendary comedian and 1947 and 1969 Tournament of Roses Parade Grand Marshal, Bob Hope, during his 1969 stint.
With Santa gone back to the North Pole for another year so he can put down sand bags to try and prevent the melting ice from invading the elfs' workshop and the last of the drunken people in Times Square finally swept aside, the Lounge is left with 2008 and onomatopoeia practice [buzz, crash, tinkle, grumble…repeat]. Nothing helps our practice go faster than a festive Rose Bowl parade to start the year off right. First, you have your obligatory protesters. We were expecting something from the Society for the Ethical Treatment of Rose Petals but they have finally caved in after years of roses being bred and slaughtered like veal cutlets merely to festoon a floating vehicle for the temporary amusement of hangover-challenged humans. With famous chef Emeril Lagasse as this year's Grand Marshal, we were thinking we might see the League of Louisianans Against Cajun Food or the Dudes of Declining Television Show Ratings kick it up a notch. Instead, we got political protesters. Uh, bam? Well, at least there was a cool, Transformer-like float from Honda squeezed in between the 43 equestrian units to keep our eyelids from collapsing. But then there was also an appearance of some questionable-looking mascots for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing too – so it was not all a win-win.
The year ended as it always does - with somebody promising free furniture if the Packers win the Super Bowl. Boy, if we had a nickel [well, better make that a dime, inflation, you know…] for every time we have heard that one before! Now, free, all-you-can-consume beer, brats and cheese – let us know when that offer is being made to Wisconsinites and we will be first on the scene to write some onomatopoeia-laden poetry to enhance the, what we are sure will be, festive situation.
The new year began, as it usually does, with some "wordsmiths" [we prefer to call them "wordjohnsons"] at Lake Superior State University, decreeing that we used a perfect storm of words too much and some of our so-called words are, in fact, made up [probably as a result of previous New Year's Eve benders as far as we know]. Now, we know what you are thinking – you are thinking, "Lake Superior State? What is that – a webinar version of one of the Great Lakes? What have they ever done to deserve throwing our made-up words and phrases under the bus?" Why, we will have you know that, back in the day – like 1992 – the Lakers, as they are creatively called, were very good at ice hockey. In fact, Sault Ste-Marie was the new Anaheim [which was a good trick because Anaheim did not exist back then - and some claim it still does not exist]. Do we even have to mention Snowman Burning? If there ever was a candidate for a new word – we will officially nominate "hoholik" at the next New Year's Eve Wordjohnson bender.
Once we got all our words in order for 2008, it figures, then we find out that CBS has officially taken over CSTV. Now we have to make up an entirely new word for monopoly that will apply to the new CSTV since "CBS puppet state" will no longer apply. Now don't get us wrong, the Lounge loves CSTV, mostly because they boldly go where no network has gone before and give us that scintillating Alabama A&M-Maryland-Eastern Shore women's hoop match-up, knowing full well that the entire West Coast will have their eyeballs glued to, oh, Advanced Spice Rack Alphabetizing on the Food Network on that day. Talk about visionaries! No, actually, we do like CSTV's commitment to the smaller collegiate athletic programs across the country but being engulfed by the parent corporation usually never means good things for those small fry. So, the Lounge is officially and initially skeptical of this being a good move, but after a lengthy consultation with some wordjohnsons that involved some leftover nog from the holidays, they say we can call ourselves optimistically skeptical.
Shortly after that, it was announced that Sweden has become the first major economy where the internet has overtaken television as the country's top advertising medium [shhh! – don't tell The Sporting News - we'll keep it a secret from them, then have a surprise birthday party and have Sweden jump out of a cake – it'll be fun!]. The United Kingdom and Denmark are said to be next in line as internet-based advertising spending are only slightly behind television in those countries. Despite all the bad things being said about the internet by people still pining for the fjords and the day when we had to wait hours, even days – sometimes never – for big-wig sports entities [or Fox Sports Northwest] to report on Wazzu athletics or anything not-Husky-related, we now have to wait only seconds – regrettably, sometimes minutes – for information. All countries around the world are beginning to see the light with the exception, unfortunately, of China, which has chosen to ban the internet unless they get to put what they want on it and they get all the money. This is completely different from the principles guiding the NCAA or the BCS Taliban.
"Every year, I think there is nothing that can surprise me about Pac-10 officiating and every year, I find I have a new foot implanted in my crotch," says Billy Hill, the Headless Hoarse Man, undoubtedly referring to the questionable officiating during last weekend's Apple Cup of men's hoop between the Cougars and Huskies.
The Lounge clientele was up in arms – many of them forearm push-offs borrowed from Jon Brockman – after trying to count the blatant offensive fouls that were not called against the Husky junior forward as well as a few other glaring non-calls. But Father Lotto, who was appointed as the statistician, lost count somewhere between 15 and 900, which may or may not have had to do with the vodka. Despite the absence of an actual count of the offending apparent non-offenses, it was painfully clear to the Lounge clientele that Pac-10 officials are, once again, going to be taking the scenic route to respectability this year. Whether that means allowing an injured athlete lie on the floor without stopping play or failing to enforce the fundamental rules of basketball, it should provide hours of gut-wrenching nausea for Pac-10 hoop fans and well-wishers everywhere this season.
"Well, at least they were able to get the win despite the refs' always meddling in affairs," says Counterfeit Bill, who may have watched too many Scooby Do, Where Are You? episodes when he was a child – although the Lounge is not sure that was possible.
This is what has made the Wazzu team – particularly this team – so tough. Entering a decidedly hostile environment, dealing with a highly-motivated opponent and then, also dealing with glaring officiating errors and inconsistencies, speaks to the mental toughness of the veteran Cougar unit. Lesser-minded teams wilt under one or more of those pressures, but the Cougars almost seem to thrive on them. A close game – such as the win over Washington was - is not a cause for concern nor a reason for anxiety – it is just another game to them, and, after winning 39 of the last 47, there is not much argument against that notion. The Cougars beat the Huskies for the sixth consecutive time [true Cougar juniors Aron Baynes and Caleb Forrest have never lost to the Huskies in Seattle] and once again established themselves as the premier program in the state. But now they have larger potatoes to fry. Two of the big boys of the Pac-10 – USC and UCLA – are awaiting their arrival in Los Angeles this week and not only is the schedule unkind to them – facing three road games to open the conference season] – but the game times have been configured in a way that will severely test the Cougars. Wazzu will play USC in a late game on Thursday evening [tip time at 8pm] and then will have only a bit over 36 hours to rest and prepare for perennial title contender UCLA at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. If the Cougars are somehow able to emerge from this TV-inspired double-whammy unscathed, there is no doubt they will be considered legitimate national title contenders. So far, that thought has been all in their minds – but their minds are the only ones that matter.
For a sneak preview of the some thoughts that may await them on Thursday in Los Angeles, we have been periodically viewing the Pyramid of Excess, where they have been keeping a semi-diligent O.J. Mayo-watch. We say "semi-diligent" partially because one of the wordjohnsons said we could and partially because when we think of over-the-top diligence, we think of paparazzi and Britney Spears, and these Pyramid Schemers are not quite up to those lofty levels, [plus they openly admit their West Coast Conference affiliations]. Still, they have humorous words for all who find humor in yet another OJ going to USC.
Finally, the Lounge Scientists have some bad news for Santa – the Heat Miser may be winning the battle against the Snow Miser. After analyzing data from the last two decades, they have discovered that the warming of his Arctic Circle home at the North Pole may be partially due to the warm air circulated northward by numerous tropical cyclones.
"We are not saying this is the only explanation. This could explain maybe 25% of the amplification of warming in the Arctic," says Lounge Scientist #53, Rune Graversen, a researcher at the University of Stockholm in Sweden, who reportedly uses the internet – almost exclusively – when tracking the Heat Miser's cyclones.
We always knew Mom liked Snow Miser best – now Mr. Heat Blister, Mr. 101 - is getting his revenge.
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