If Washington Huskies players were able to use the Stanford Cardinal's celebration as motivation for a home thumping, you can imagine that witnessing Washington State Cougars' fans rush the court after their previous win will figure into their motivation a bit today.
Not that they need extra motivation for a rivalry game and needing wins to strengthen their NCAA tournament resume.
Nevertheless, a win against the Cougars today at Hec Ed has the potential to be extra gratifying: not only would it avoid casting a serious cloud of doubt over the Huskies' tournament chances, but it would also effectively end the Cougars' tournament hopes, as described by Scott M. Johnson of the Kitsap Sun.
Huskies hoping to burst Cougars' bubble " Kitsap Sun
WSU coach Ken Bone said the Cougars' only chance at an at-large bid would be to win out and make a run to the conference tournament finals, then play well in that game just to have "a good shot" at getting invited to the dance...four losses in six games have all but lost WSU a shot at an at-large bid. For the second year in a row, the Cougars have faltered in the second half of Pac-10 play after a solid start.
Jeff Nusser of CougCenter took a look at what's happened to the Cougars' season earlier this week and part of what makes that second half decline so disappointing is the heightened expectations from their early season performance.
Where It All Went Wrong: Team Issues - CougCenter
But while the Cougs are undoubtedly improved, that's not a lot of consolation right now. It doesn't exactly take the sting out of a season that has headed south so quickly after starting with so much promise. Some have suggested it's our fault as fans for elevating our expectations to unreasonable levels, and that might be a little true; I think we all had a reasonable expectation that such a young team would continue to improve as the season unfolded. That, clearly, did not happen.
For the second consecutive year, this team has gotten worse.
With the Huskies playing extremely well at home this season - yet to suffer a loss - today's game can either add insult to injury for the Cougars or serve as some small consolation in a disappointing season and a glimmer of hope for making the tournament.