The Cougar Lounge - Swimming In The Dark

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"I had no idea how much people cared about football here."
- Senior Stanford receiver Mark Bradford, after the Cardinal's wins against USC had rejuvenated interest in the football team.
"We had to fight tooth and nail to get that kid in school."
- Former Stanford assistant football coach, Tom Williams, talking about Bradford's difficulty in gaining admission to Stanford – and past their notoriously strict admissions department - in order to play football. As of the completion of last year, Bradford was nailing a 3.3 GPA.
"I grew up with Get Smart. I watched the reruns on Nick at Nite and, when I was eight, my cousin and I would take our bikes around Cape May, New Jersey, and pretend to beat up KAOS agents who were actually trees."
- Actress Anne Hathaway, who will be playing the part of Agent 99 in the movie version due out next summer and who meant real trees – not the Stanford variety. This quote will self-destruct in five seconds…four…three…two…one
There is joy in the Lounge this week as the basketball season has officially begun. In days gone by, this was not always seen as a good thing. In fact, a mere five years ago, this may have been seen as a reason to find the highest bridge and fling one's self off it, hoping one might land on an opponent's team bus and therefore give the Cougars a forfeit win. Then again, that might have meant then-WSU head coach Paul Graham [he of the 9-63 Pac-10 record] might have stayed longer, thereby setting up a quandary. Fortunately for Cougar fans and well-wishers everywhere, Graham was replaced by Dick Bennett after that 2002-03 season and the rest is, as they say in Europe…, well, they probably don't say anything in Europe because they don't know who Dick Bennett is. But if they did, we are sure they would have some very nice things to say about him once they got to know him. At least the ones who went to only the best schools.
Here in the United States of America, that would not be Fresno State – at least if you are seeking the best schools for men's basketball, combined with getting a good education. According to two Iowa professors who have crunched the numbers, the best schools for men's hoop in America are Duke, Illinois and North Carolina. Wazzu did not fare too well, mostly because their newly-reborn success is still in its infancy, but they were not at the bottom of the Pac-10 barrel either. That would be USC.
But even the best school in the conference for education – Stanford – was only 24th in the rankings. Possibly they were docked a few points for their marketing campaign citing their most notable inventions such as the Klystron tube or maybe laser technology.
All we know is last Monday was World Internet Day and with come some facts. First, the internet is not the World Wide Web – two different tater tots there. One [the internet] is a collection of computer networks while the other is just one of the services accessible via the internet [others include e-mail, for instance]. The infant internet was created in 1983 but not opened to commercial interests until 1988 and the World Wide Web joined the party in 1991. Today, as of last month, 1.3 billion people are using the internet, according to Internet World Statistics.
In fact, the internet was how we found out that both Reggie Bush is in big trouble with the NCAA [but don't you fret, nobody will get in trouble because he's a big superstar] and Catholic school principals are not who we thought they are nowadays.
"Can Friday possibly get here any faster?" says Miss Eggy Eggy Smashy Smashy who has to be blocked out of the Lounge key [which has been painted on the Lounge floor near the bar stools just in time for hoop season].
Well, Miss EESS, you can purchase a time machine from Wal-Mart, but it would probably be made in China and send you back to the Boxer Rebellion instead of forward to Friday, so get one instead at the Science Shack and while you are time traveling, see if you can't do something about the Nazis and perhaps doing something to make Brussels sprouts go away. But as for hoop season, it already got underway with Wazzu getting a women's exhibition win over Southern Oregon and the men getting their practice win over Lewis-Clark State. But the big game for the men will be on Friday when they face Eastern Washington in their first season opener in decades that will have few – if any – empty seats at Beasley Coliseum. That alone signifies the pressure they will be under to produce another winning season and trip to the Big Dance. Since they are returning virtually the entire starting rotation of the team that was so successful last year, expectations will be sky-high this year and, if they show they can handle that pressure, the sky will surely be the limit.
"What changes will be made in football?" asks The Man From Next Tuesday after the Cougars lost their sixth game of the year last week, to California.
Well TMFNT – if we may call you that – that may be a decision that will have to wait until the end of the season. Barring an unlikely scenario where they would win their last three games and go to a bowl game with a 6-6 record [six wins is still bowl-eligible status] the Cougars have virtually secured their fourth consecutive non-winning season after last week's loss to Cal in Berkeley. Things could be worse – they could be in volleyball's situation where they are currently mired in a 15-match losing streak, the longest since WSU has been a member of the Pac-10 and a 17-match Pac-10 losing streak, the worst in school history. Still, football has endured consecutive down years – just not so many so recently – the last four-year non-winning skid ended just over 30 years ago from 1973-76. Since then, WSU has had bad years in a row but have always managed to turn the corner in that crucial third or fourth year. Not so this time and with WSU still seeking their first publicized verbal commitment for next year and some key seniors departing from this year's squad, the future is not looking as bright as it did in 2003 coming off the big Holiday Bowl win over Texas. Athletic director Jim Sterk may have some tough financial gymnastics to perform and a tough decision to make later this month. Either way he chooses, the health of the football program depends upon that decision.
With Stanford coming to town this week and the Bay Area being the nucleus of venture capitalism, the Lounge just knows there will be some interest in the stunning future of transportation as depicted at Fleethorse. The Lounge consensus favors the Naturminibus as the most-viewed with awestruck, open-mouthed stares, although we should note that the Naturtaxi did also its fair share of wide-eyed disbelief.
Finally, just in time for basketball season, fans are going to want to know why athletes miss free throws or easy lay-ups and the Lounge Scientists may have discovered what causes these seemingly "unforced errors" – spontaneous fluctuations of electrical activity in the brain that sometimes causes athletes to subconsciously exert less physical force than required to complete the task. A study involving getting people to push buttons with a necessary amount of force found that the people used less force when they knew they were going to be prompted to press a button. Scientists speculate that, because the activity is so easy or has no readily apparent obstacle to overcome, the brain is tricked into thinking the task is already nearly completed and does not require any extra effort.
"This is the first clear evidence that [spontaneous brain activity] has some behavioural significance," says Lounge Scientist #57, Rasmus Birn, a researcher at the National Institute of Health in Maryland, who was not involved in the study but reportedly had hoped to be.
So if, sometime this season, Derrick Low or Kyle Weaver miss a free throw or easy lay-up that you think they should make – remember, first, that their brains have temporarily betrayed them – then issue the expletive or accost the couch pillow.
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Attention COUGAR Fans! Autumn has arrived and you have the hunger. How can you afford to go one day further without some tasty morsels from Clark's Restaurant in Grays Harbor – home of the Best Hamburger in Twin Harbors for eight consecutive years? Come in for the burger, fresh homemade fries and milkshakes concocted from homemade ice cream. Go ahead, we dare you to try and pass up more than 12 varieties of hamburgers to choose from, full dinners, lunch and full breakfast served daily. Clark's Restaurant 360.538.1487. Seven miles south of Aberdeen, Washington on Highway 101. Proud supporter of CougZone. Mention this ad for a free small ice cream.