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“Play With a Coug” Tennis Recap

By Taegan Whiteley

 

On Friday, Sept. 30 the Washington State University tennis team hosted their annual “Play with a Cougar” event. Members of the Pullman community and tennis fans were invited to join the team in an evening of fun festivities, including competitions and one-on-one instruction.

WSU Hall of Famer Rex Davis made an appearance at the event and was recognized for his outstanding work during his coaching career. Davis coached both gymnastics and tennis from 1966 to 1994. What was interesting about talking to Davis was him telling me how he learned how to play tennis.

While stationed in Korea, Davis was an assistant at the gym (tennis courts had been built for the commanding general) where the man who was in charge of the gym taught Davis how to play. After leaving the Army, Davis would go on to teach gymnastics and tennis for the next 11 seasons, eventually ending up at WSU to coach.

After catching up with Davis and two of his old players, I got the chance to talk to Lisa Hart, who is now entering her 13th season as the Washington State head women’s tennis coach. Hart is extremely confident with her team this year, especially having three returners.

“Aneta Miksovska, Victoria Matejevic and Barbora Michalkova have been doing a really great job at stepping up and being leaders for the younger girls,” she said. With their official season around the corner, the girls have been playing in tournaments around the country, and as Hart said, “developing their game so that the girls are ready to go by January.”

Sophomore Team Captain Miksovska was born and raised in Stramberk, Czech Republic and has been playing tennis since the age of just five years old. Miksovska had spent the past few years playing on the International Tennis Federation circuit, where in 2015 she reached quarterfinals of the tournament in Trnava, Slovakia. At first, Miksovska found being far away from home hard, but she soon adjusted.

“I got to know my teammates and coaches, and it became a little easier knowing that we all came from far away,” Miksovska said. “But I love it here and I am very happy here.”

For the next couple weeks, the girls will stay here in Pullman, developing their game and skills as they prepare for the ITA Regional Tournament hosted by Stanford University from October 21-24, where more than 8,000 of the country’s top men and women’s players from around the country will gather to compete.

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Loaded Bases and Cold Bats: Cougar Baseball Goes Cold Against Sun Devils (published by Alex Clark)

What the heck is the problem with the WSU baseball team? The last series against the ASU Sun Devils revealed that the problems that the Cougars face are far more than what was originally expected.

 

Over the weekend, the Cougars took only one game out of three from the team from the team from Tempe. While on the outside, this series looked like any other, it is what lies inside the box score that reveals the true demons of this team.

 

Before I analyze the games, the team has had some obvious problems going into the series.

 

The big problem was general defense. According to WSUCougars.com, the team has committed a grand total of 36 errors. They have played only 25 games which means that they make, on average, 1.44 errors per game. Each error means that another runner either gets on base, advances any number of bases, or possibly both. Errors only help the opposing team win easier.

 

The other problem was the offense. While there were games where the offense would explode for several runs, there were games where they would be held to maybe one or zero runs. With the offense being this streaky, it makes it near impossible for the pitching to do meaningful work.

 

The pitching is another problem, but I feel it isn’t too fair to judge the pitching when the defense puts them into positions where they are doomed to fail.

 

Now getting into the series against ASU, these problems are evident, along with a few others.

 

In game one, the Cougars lost badly by a score of 10-1 to ASU. This game was led by horrible defense and an offense that never got it going.

 

The Cougars committed a total of five errors in the game and only got five hits which resulted in one run. The Sun Devils were able to score ten runs on nine hits and only commit two errors. ASU was also led by pitcher Seth Martinez who went the distance getting five strikeout, no walks and not surrendering a single earned run.

 

Two Cougars did get two hits in the game. Redshirt Junior Trek Stemp and Freshman Mason Cerrillo both were able to get two hits apiece off of Martinez.

 

Game two was a completely different story though. The Cougars were able to score early in the game and keep the lead going through the game. Junior Ian Hamilton went five innings before Sophomore Ryan Walker went the rest of the way to earn an unusual four-inning save. The offense scored early and often. ASU never held a lead at any point in this game.

 

This game was an example of what this team is truly capable of. Thankfully, this game also gave Ian Hamilton his first win of the season bringing his record to 1-6.

 

The point where this series took a dark turn is in game three where WSU lost by a humiliating score of 18-3. That is not a typo, and this has been fact-checked. The Cougars lost by 15 points. There are only a few things that need to be said about this game. Combined as a team, the Cougars gave up 15 walks. That number alone should make baseball fans let out a small tear. The other is that they gave up 18 runs on 13 hits. That means most of those runs came from walks, not legitimate hits.

 

The series answered some questions about this team’s problems, but it raises more from it.

 

In this series, the offensive problems were addressed and shown for what they are. They were streaky and unpredictable. Over the course of the series, they scored an average of 4.3 runs per game, but without game two’s scoring production, they only scored on average two runs per game. That is horrible.

 

The other problem was the walks. In the series, the team gave up 22 walks. This takes the expression “can’t find the strike zone with a map” to a whole new level. Even though most came in game three alone, that number needs to change if the Cougars want to win in the future.

 

However, while these problems can be addressed, there is one conundrum from the series that can’t be answered so easily.

 

If the third game wasn’t weird enough, there was one stat that blew my mind once the game was over. Even though they lost by 15 points, the Cougars did not have a single error in the game.

 

In one of the biggest blowouts in recent Cougar history, the defense was nearly spotless.

 

This only goes to show how important limiting walks in games really is. Even if the defense does it’s job, it doesn’t matter if the pitching gives away free bases like they were flyers at an event table. .

 

Whatever the true reason for the Cougar’s struggles may be, I think I speak for everyone when I say that this team has amazing potential. With young stars like Mason Cerrillo and Ty Johnson, combined with team veterans like Ian Hamilton and Trek Stemp, the Cougars have a lot of talent up and down the lineup. There are a ton of problems that the team has to fix, and their ability to work through them will be the difference between winning going forward and being doomed to last place in the Pac-12.

 

Seattle Mariner Fantasy Players: Hot or Not (published by Alex Clark)

With the fantasy baseball season less than two weeks away, fans in the pacific northwest have only one question on their minds. How Seattle Mariners can I stuff onto my squad?

 

Alright, maybe this is not fully accurate, but this does raise some questions about the team’s fantasy value. There are a lot of big names on this Mariner squad that are good to put on rosters..

 

This is not a list of who is better than whom, this is a list showing the best Mariners to target in fantasy drafts for their projected value. Everybody knows that players like Cano, Seager and Felix are gonna produce in fantasy. However, the question is, are they worth their draft value.

 

Just because a player is hot or not, doesn’t mean owners should draft or avoid them at all in the draft. If their value is good, then go for it. For example, avoid drafting Kyle Seager in the first round, but he is a steal if he is availble past round 10.

 

For this list, I will be using the average draft position (ADP) from Yahoo leagues and basing the rounds using a 10-person league to keep it fair for everybody.

 

  1. Felix Hernandez: Hot

 

Everybody saw this coming from a mile away, but there is a reason why he is hot on this list. Going back to previous years, Felix has normally been a first round pick in pretty much every league.

 

This year, his draft value has fallen hard. According to Yahoo fantasy, he is projected to go in the 5th round with an ADP of 45.1.

 

Personally, I feel that his draft position is way too low. He is an ace who has a revamped offense behind him that should get him more wins. While he did experience a down year last season, he is poised to have a bounceback season.

 

If teams can snag him in the fourth or fifth round of drafts, he should be a solid pick up to any team.

 

  1. Robinson Cano: Not

 

While he is the star hitter for the team, his draft projections scare me a bit. He is rated as the third best second baseman only behind Jose Altuve and Dee Gordon, according to Yahoo fantasy. With an ADP of 54.0 in the 6th round, his stock has certainly fallen since last year.

 

Although his value has dropped, I would advise staying away from Cano where he is projected.

 

Cano has a history of struggling in the first half of the season before picking up the pace in the second half. While the second half is usually very strong for him, it makes fantasy owners scared to start him before he gets hot.

 

If teams really want him, I would recommend trying to trade for him around the league trade deadline. Otherwise, avoid him until maybe round seven or eight.

 

  1. Kyle Seager: Hot

 

Mr. Hawt Corner has proven himself as a true elite third baseman in the past few years. While he is one of the best in the game, his fantasy projections tell a different tale. According to Yahoo fantasy, he is projected to go in the 10th round with nine other third baseman ahead of him.

 

I feel that this is something that Mariner fans can take advantage of. We have seen Kyle put up amazing numbers in years past. However, on the flip side, we have seen Kyle slump a lot in years past as well.

 

This would normally be a concern, but since he is not projected to go until the 10th round, this is worth the risk. If he is around in rounds 9-11, I would highly consider taking him.

 

  1. Nelson Cruz: Not

 

This year’s fantasy draft is extremely stacked in two areas: outfield and starting pitching. This does not help Cruz because of the depth in talent that owners can find going through the draft.

 

According to Yahoo fantasy, Cruz is projected as a third or fourth round player with an ADP of 33.4. This high of a draft position is his true undoing.

 

While he is a true home run champion, there is so much OF talent in this draft that passing on Cruz with the third round pick would be alright to do.

 

However, if he falls to the 4th or even the fifth round, feel free to scoop him up and reap the benefits.

 

  1. Hisashi Iwakuma: Hot

 

As stated earlier, this draft is full of solid SP. While Cruz suffered from the position, Iwakuma will thrive from it.

 

Iwakuma is rated as the 49th best SP in the draft with an ADP of 159.9, according to Yahoo fantasy. In most leagues, he is projected to go in the 16th round. For 16th round projections, Iwakuma is a solid pick-up that can fill in any starting roster.

 

There is some risk in drafting the Bear from Seattle. He was supposed to play for the Dodgers this year, but failed a physical making him re-sign with the Mariners. He is an injury risk, but for a late draft pick, the risk will be more than worth the reward.

 

If Iwakuma is available from the 15th round on, highly consider adding him to the squad.

 

  1. Nori Aoki: Hot

 

This is an odd situation for fantasy owners. Not because Aoki is rated too high or too low, but because he is barely rated at all.

 

According to Yahoo fantasy, Aoki’s ADP is 244.3 and projected to be drafted between the 23rd and 24th round. However, the biggest stat is something I haven’t talked about yet. Aoki has only been drafted in five percent of drafts.

 

It is hard to put a value on this because it is very possible that Aoki falls to be undrafted.

 

Nori definitely has value. He doesn’t strike out that much and he is going to get plenty of at-bats as the lead off hitter for the team. With a good amount of speed and contact, he is a solid fantasy choice.

 

He is definitely worth a selection in any round after the 22nd. This may be the steal of the draft if Aoki does his job with the Mariners and stays healthy.

 

  1. Adam Lind: Hot

 

Like Aoki, this is an odd situation because of his rating. The only difference is that Lind has been drafted in 95% of drafts, according to Yahoo fantasy.

 

According to Yahoo fantasy, Lind is drafted at the twilight of most drafts with an ADP of 237.5 and drafted on average in the 24th round. He is worth drafting only for the fact that he will be a great backup first baseman.

 

The difference between Aoki and Lind is that Lind has a higher chance of being drafted. With him being picked in 95% of drafts, he is more likely to get picked than Aoki, even though Aoki is valued as only slightly lower than Lind.

 

Lind does have some risk though. He is on a new team and is going to be on a mild platoon situation in Seattle. However, since he will be mostly a back-up, the platooning won’t affect his value.

 

If he is forced to start due to an injury, another backup first baseman will be needed to avoid losing points when Lind doesn’t start.

 

Lind is a good decision to draft with a late round draft pick, but if he falls undrafted, it would be an even better decision to pick him up for free. I would recommend drafting him, but if he falls, don’t feel bad.
The Mariners do have good fantasy value this year, but being “Teamist” will not help fantasy owners win championships. These are just the main ones to watch for that could help owners win their leagues.

WSU Women’s Basketball vs. Utah (Recap)

The Utah Utes women’s basketball team (16-13, 8-10) stunned Washington State (14-15, 5-13) on Saturday afternoon 75-69 in what was a gutsy, second-half comeback win in both teams’ regular season finale. Continue reading

Stanford Overpowers Washington State

The Cardinal took care of business at home cruising to a 34-17 victory. A week removed from an explosive offensive performance posting 59 points with a record setting 734 passing yards in a game, Connor Halliday and his offense were flat against Stanford.

WSU’s offense was subpar at best against the Cardinal, producing just 266 yards of total offense. WSU’s passing numbers held to low standards by the Air Raid formula because the ground attack was nowhere in site; the running game lost the Cougs 26 yards of offense. The only positive take away from WSU was turning the ball over once, via an interception. Halliday completed 42 of his 69 passes for 292 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 INT. Considering WSU was a one-dimensional team, Halliday played spectacular. River Cracraft was the lone receiver for WSU to have 100 receiving yards from 14 catches and 1 TD.

WSU’s defense did not look much better then the offense. However, the special teams did not yield a touchdown from either a kick or punt return, even when Stanford’s speedster, senior WR, Ty Montgomery received the ball. The defense however did give WSU a chance to beat Stanford and kept the team on the Cardinal’s heels for the majority of the game. Senior QB, Kevin Hogan was efficient, completing 23 of his 35 passes for 284 yards and 3 TD’s. His favorite target, Montgomery, caught the ball 7 times for 72 yards. Senior RB, Remound Wright had 14 carries for 98 yards and 1 TD. Junior RB, Barry Sanders added to the Cardinal’s running game with 7 carries and 68 yards.

Stanford executed everything correctly and WSU unfortunately could not. The Cardinal’s offense is about as balanced as it gets, 284 passing yards and 193 rushing yards. Stanford mixed and matched their play calling with 35 passing plays and 33 running plays. David Shaw’s play calling was excellent this game, a critical reason why his team pulled away from the Cougars toward the end.

On the flip side, WSU’s play calling consisted of mainly passing. WSU had 69 passing plays and 11 running plays. However, Leach and company were put in a difficult spot because Stanford snuffed the run from the start of the game. This forced the Cougars to rely solely on the air attack. This game will down as yet another loss for the Cougars, which leaves WSU’s bowl hopes, slim to none at a record of 2-5 overall. If the Cougars want to put on a winning run, a running game needs to be established, this will allow WSU to throw the opposing defense different looks and not operate as a one dimensional offense. A bye week is coming at a good time; the Cougars have a lot of work ahead of them to compete for a bowl game.

By Matthew Segal

WSU Sparks a Stunning Comeback

A week removed from a heartbreaking and controversial officiating game against #2 Oregon resulting in a 38-31 loss at Martin Stadium, WSU mounted an impressive 28-27 comeback victory against the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. The Cougars got off to a dreadful start down by 21 points after the first quarter highlighted by Connor Halliday throwing a pick six to senior defensive back, Eric Rowe, after his first snap of the game.

The Utes pounded the Cougars during the first half with a 24-7 lead going into half time. Utah’s playing calling was highlighted by their instrumental running game. Junior running back Devontae Booker finished the game with 24 carries, 178 rushing yards, and 1 TD. The running game was the only edge Utah had over the Cougars. Junior QB Travis Wilson completed 18 of his 38 passes for 165 yards.

Whatever Mike Leach told his players in locker room clearly motivated the team coming out of the half. The Cougars outscored the Utes 21-3 in the second half. The recipe for success entailed a stout defense with an effective running attack to open the passing lanes. Halliday led the way for the Cougs completing 39 of his 61 passes for 417 yards resulting in 4 TD’s and 2 INT’s. His two favorite targets were sophomore sensation WR River Cracraft and senior WR Vince Mayle, combining for a total of 246 yards and 2 TD’s. Junior WR Dom Williams accounted for the other two passing touchdowns adding 73 yards to the total number of passing yards. WSU’s ground attack prove to be very effective led by a pair of freshmen running backs in Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow resulting in 104 rushing yards between the two.

After five weeks the Cougars will head into Homecoming Week 2-3 overall and 1-1 in PAC-12 play. While fans may be shaking their head wondering why the Cougars performance against Oregon and Utah were not present during the Rutgers and Nevada game, all signs indicate the Cougars are back on track. Heading into the game Utah was 3-0 highlighted by wins against Fresno State at home 59-27 and an impressive road victory against Michigan 26-10. Undoubtedly, given the events that occurred last year between the two teams, Utah was seeking revenge against the Cougars. To recap last year’s game, WSU heading into their game against Utah last year needed one more win to become bowl eligible. Utah heading into the game needed two wins to become bowl eligible, Utah finished last year with five wins. The rest is history. Not only was WSU victorious against a 3-0 impressive Utah team, the Cougars showed tremendous character and exposure leading them to the victory.

About two weeks, I wrote an article recapping the game against PSU where I stated the Cougars improved in a variety of areas, an established running game to open the passing attack, defensive stops, and a decreased amount of penalties. The Cougars stuck to this formula during the second half to notch their second win of the season. WSU has a long road ahead of them to reach a bowl game but Saturday’s game was a statement. The Cougars could have easily given up after the first quarter. Down by 21 points with the rain coming down hard, the team gathered themselves and shocked the Utah faithful. A win like this should give Cougar fans hope that a bowl game is back in picture if the Cougars can replicate their second half performance toward the rest of their season. It starts next Saturday against CAL in an “Air Raid” offense showdown.

By Matthew Segal

WSU Grabs Much Needed Win

After disappointing back-to-back losses to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Nevada Wolf Pack WSU took care of business at home beating Portland State 59-21 in front of an energized crowd at Martin Stadium. Connor Halliday torched the Viking’s defense completing 41 of 62 passes for 544 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions. To be technical, Halliday averaged one interception after 30 passes. Nine receivers accounted for a total of 544 yards through the air; however, senior wide receiver Isiah Myers and junior wide receiver Dom Williams combined for a total of 339 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The passing game is the primary reason why WSU won. However, the running game kept the defense off balance to open the passing game. A pair of freshmen running backs Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow rushed for 88 yards producing a touchdown, Wicks accounted for the touchdown.

WSU’s defense is a tale of two halves. The first half telling the story of zero points. PSU quarterback Kieran McDonagh had no answer to WSU’s defense. The second half PSU won the battle earning 21 points. McDonagh and senior wide receiver Alex Toureen matched each other for seven catches ending with 100 yards and one touchdown. McDonagh’s final stat line, 31 completed passes in 51 attempts for 269 yards, one touchdown and one interception caused by freshman corner back Charleston White. Senior running back Shaquille Richard ran the ball for 68 yards including one touchdown off of 11 carries.

Instead of heading into week four against Oregon 3-0 as many cougar fans suspected, the reality is a 1-3 record. Despite having one win, WSU improved in certain areas to pick up not only a much needed win but perhaps optimism heading into the coming weeks of college football. The passing game will receive all of the headlines however; the running game is a huge reason as to why the passing game became effective against Portland State. Through the first two weeks WSU earned a total of 44 rushing yards. No matter the type of quarterback and the arsenal he provides, a running game needs to be present. By not establishing a running game an offense will be predictable and vulnerable. If WSU is to have any chance of upsetting Oregon the running game has to be established.

WSU’s defense is very young. Viewers may already have observed this due to the amount of penalties caused. The Nevada and Rutgers game resulted in 19 penalties for 149 yards. The Portland State game provided progression of improvement with seven penalties for 70 yards. If WSU keeps the penalties down by not giving up free yards that is a second box to check in preparation for the Oregon game next week. On the subject of free yards, WSU did not provide PSU any second chances in the fumble category. Should WSU keep the momentum in that category a third box is checked for the Oregon game.

After reading the three areas of improvement: established a running game, cut down on penalties and zero fumbles, readers may wonder, “When is he going to talk about the interceptions?” Interceptions are crucial toward tipping the momentum in a favor of a team. However, interceptions are expected to happen in an Air Raid offense. It is expected for Halliday to throw one or two interceptions a game when he throws the ball sixty or seventy times a game. How do you cut down the interceptions? This goes back to my point of establishing the running game. If the running game is clicking the offense does not become one-dimensional. Doing so, Halliday will be less prone to interceptions and trying to do too much at once.

If all three areas are checked off next week maybe WSU still ends week four 1-4. When playing the number two team in the country you need a lot of things to go your way and a lot of luck. However, a win against other PAC-12 opponents is not out of the question. Turn back to last year when WSU stunned the city of Los Angeles beating #25 USC 10-7, or wins against Arizona and Utah. If you start to look at the cougar’s situation in this scenario then a bowl game is still possible. Perhaps a game against Oregon is too to a lesser extent.

Written By Matthew Segal