Washington State Basketball: Crunch Time Epidemic Continues Against Buffs


Dec 21, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Ken Bone reacts during the 2nd half against the Buffalo Bulls at KeyArena. Washington State defeated Buffalo 65-54. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

It’s tough to tell what’s wrong with the Washington State basketball team in crunch time. Then again, it’s not actually. The epidemic has a little of every kind of basketball sickness imaginable attached to it and it always seems to pop up in the last 5-7 minutes of the basketball game.

On Wednesday, it popped up earlier, but the Cougs were able to recover in time to put the game away. Well, that and the fact that Utah is just plain bad. On Saturday however, it began promptly at the 6:08 mark, when Spencer Dinwiddie nailed a three to extend Colorado’s lead from two to five, 47-42. The Cougs scored 7 points the rest of the way and lost 58-49.

By the way, Dinwiddie’s three was the only such basket of the night for CU, and still they pulled away. 19 of 24 from the free throw line to 4 of 9 for WSU contributed in a big way, but so did Washington State’s inability to do what they did the rest of the game in the last stretch run. Up four with 15:00 remaining, sound familiar? The Cougs always seem to be up anywhere around four-to-eight with around 15 minutes to go.

Ken Bone blamed it on fatigue with several of his guys playing big, big minutes. The players blamed it on their lack of execution. The fans don’t know what to blame it on. Personally, I blame the lack of great leadership on the team.

We could sit here and blame it on missing Moore, which is a viable analysis, but you play with what you’ve got so that’s not a good excuse anymore. I don’t want to blame the coaching here, because I know they are all knowledgeable basketball guys and great people. I do however sense a lack of respect from the team. Not the kind where a team goes rogue on their coach, but the type that has a problem buying into the program and struggles to find courage from their coach in those moments where you really need it.

This isn’t really a fair comparison, but it needs to be made. When Tony was coaching, the team believed they were going to win. They knew that if they did what he told them to do, they would give themselves a chance, and they played like it. Do you get that feeling today? No you don’t. Neither does the team. In fact, it’s the opposite where the team seems to play as if no matter what they do right, something will go badly enough for them to lose.

That’s the best way I can explain it. I love our coaches, but the time is running out on losing basketball around here. It has to be. We need somebody who can inspire change and courage in our players. If that ends up being who’s already here, I would love that, but things need to change earlier than it seems they will for that to happen.

Go Cougs!