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December 5, 2010
The Cougar Lounge - A Melon Collie Day
"[In] the second half we competed, we showed up and showed that we can compete with anybody. When we click as a unit, we're going to be a special team."
- Wazzu men's hoop junior guard Klay Thompson after the Cougars nearly defeated fifth-ranked Kansas State last week.
"Last year, we went 13-1 in our non-conference schedule, but we never played in an environment like this."
- Kansas State head men's hoop coach Frank Martin after his Wildcats escaped with a narrow victory over the Cougars before 11,671 at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.
"When we have crowds like that, it makes it pretty hard for other teams to play."
- Wazzu head football coach Paul Wulff, speaking about the 30,000+ Martin Stadium Apple Cup crowd - though Washington did not seem to experience many difficulties in racking up 571 total yards of offense - including 315 yards of rushing - in their 35-28 win over the Cougars.
"The color black has almost become a secondary color at the University of Washington."
- Washington head football coach Steve Sarkisian before the Apple Cup and Washington's black pants were unveiled.
A terse report was submitted to the proper Lounge authorities - the Washington Huskies won the Apple Cup. This was not a surprise. After all, Washington was favored in the game and the Huskies had bowl game aspirations hanging in the balance. All Wazzu had was three weeks of rest and a head coach fighting off unemployment. Needless to say, the game played out fairly close along those plot lines. Washington had a team that was more skilled when the time demanded it and Wazzu had the team that played with more heart to keep the game close in case Washington lost their attention span long enough for the Cougars to take advantage of the lapse. In the end, skill - or, to clarify, rushing the ball - won out over heart. Barely. Now, with yet another double digit losing season in the books - this time, 2-10 - and with a 5-32 total record over three years with two of those victories coming against lower level schools, the time has come to assess the future of head football coach Paul Wulff. Despite finishing in last place in the Pac-10 for the second consecutive year, Wulff says he is comfortable with where Cougar football is and is hopeful for the future, pointing to sporadic instances of improvement over the course of the season, with the upset victory against Oregon State upheld as the lone shining example which actually produced a victory over a Division I opponent [and a road Pac-10 conference win, to boot]. But athletic director Bill Moos will have to take a long, hard look at the whole three-year enchilada - win/loss record, conference finish, attendance, academic results, police blotter activity and, most importantly to an athletic director at a major collegiate institution - the financial outlook for the program from 2008 to present. It is a decision which has been debated endlessly for much of the last three months and a decision which needs to be made in the next week so that the recruiting portion of the season can continue with a clear picture of the direction of the Wazzu football program under Moos.
It was difficult to concentrate on the Apple Cup this year because the Lounge was engulfed in a week-long fog of mourning after Leslie Nielsen passed away from complications from pneumonia just over a week ago. In the Lounge world, there are one, two, five - three, sir - [for comedic reference, please see "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" The holy hand grenade of Antioch, right next to the old man from scene 24] definitive moments of comedy creation in the universe. There are the aforementioned M. Python boys, there is the Saturday Night Live crew [and we mean the original crew, not the generally poor SNL facsimiles which have diluted the brand for the last 20 years] and there is Nielsen. Perhaps more accurately, there is Abrahams, the Zuckers and Nielsen - the writers [Jim Abrahams and brothers David and Jerry Zucker] who penned the classic film Airplane! which launched Nielsen's new comedic career, are just as responsible for the success. But it was Nielsen's perfect, straight-faced delivery which gave a face to the words of Abrahams and the Zuckers.
Strangely enough, Nielsen's first starring role as a film actor was in the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet - complete with its goofy space suits but extra-serious [nobody was calling anybody Shirley in this film] space mission. Surely, what had to also be liked about Nielsen was the fact that he was a Canadian and who better than Canadians can deliver punch lines with straight faces? It comes from having their facial muscles frozen in place after years of living too close to the Arctic Circle. After the success of Airplane! [one of the Lounge's favorite non-Nielsen scene - when little Joey is relating how his dad thinks Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is slacking on defense] Nielsen could have had a nice little retirement, but no the Abrahams and Zuckers came up with a brilliant scheme and called it Police Squad!. In much the same manner as Airplane! was a mocking of the serious airplane disaster movies [specifically, the film Zero Hour, upon which it was based], Police Squad! was a mocking of all the serious police crime dramas popular at the time and, once again, they perfectly cast Nielsen as the bumbling but serious Det. Frank Drebin [Sample Drebin quote: "We're sorry to bother you at a time like this, Mrs. Twice. We would've come earlier but your husband wasn't dead then."]. Unfortunately for Nielsen, Abrahams and the Zuckers, television studio executives were no more intelligent then than they are now and ABC cancelled the series after six measly episodes - but fortunately for the American population, Abrahams and the Zuckers were [obviously] intelligent and merely turned their remaining Police Squad! episodes into three full blown films which became known as The Naked Gun series - all starring Nielsen as Drebin and all wildly successful [one of the Lounge's favorite non-Nielsen moment - any scene with Al, who was too tall for the frame and was only shown from the neck down]. The bottom line is this - we know Leslie Nielsen will not rest in peace because there are still too many sight gags and jokes that Abrahams and the Zuckers have not used up for him - so we fully expect to see the spirit of Nielsen showing up somewhere in the near future, perhaps the Oscars in a few months, hmmmm?? Too often, the Oscars ignore comedy, but if there were ever an opportunity to temporarily rectify that shortcoming, it is coming up in a few months.
Meanwhile, in other significantly less important but just as strangely humorous news, the 2018 and 2022 World Cup sites were awarded by FIFA last week and the 2018 World Cup went to Russia - beating out England - while the 2022 World Cup went to Qatar - beating out the United States. Yes, you read that correctly. England, where the beautiful game is a religion and a curse all in one tidy package - and the USA, which has staged one of the safest and most successful tournaments in the history of the organization - were both overlooked in favor of two locales where they have never been. FIFA top crony Sepp Blatter says FIFA chose the two locations because they "are going to new lands" whereas the Lounge says they chose the two locations based on the amount of bribe money they received. The Lounge will now begin earnest efforts to determine if FIFA and the BCS Taliban are related.
Speaking of bribery, the Lounge figures some new cars might be tossed in along with the Swiss bank account deposits and the crack Lounge research department wondered where in America people are planning to buy new cars so that we might ascertain where future bribery might take place in America [should it come to that]. The Lounge research staff discovered that, apparently, many people in the South are planning on buying new cars. According to their research, six of the top seven locales where people are looking to buy new cars are located in the South, Jackson, Mississippi, being New Car Shopping Central
"What happened?" asks Teddy the Wonder Lizard, about the Apple Cup after the Lounge all but guaranteed a Wazzu victory last week.
Well, Teddy, it appeared that - despite three weeks of rest for the players and two weeks of scouting for the coaching staff - the Cougar defense was unprepared to stop what they knew was coming if the Washington Huskies were going to win the game - Washington's rushing attack. The Huskies did not win games this year with quarterback Jake Locker throwing the ball more than Washington rushed the ball, so it was fairly obvious that if Wazzu - a fairly healthy Wazzu playing at home - were able to stop or significantly curtail the Husky rushing attack, the game was theirs for the taking. The Lounge did not foresee an inadequacy in this department. The clientele consensus was that with the extra weeks of rest and scouting, the defense would respond with an Oregon Stat-like effort and have the upper hand in this game, forcing Locker to throw the ball more than he would have preferred. But not only was this not the case, the Huskies racked up an astonishing 315 yards of rushing in the game and it would have been more if a 72-yard Locker touchdown run - untouched - had not been called back for a penalty. Simply put, the Cougars were not properly prepared for Washington's rush game. Offensively, the rustiness was there in the first quarter - that was expected - and Wazzu finally came around in the last first half and second half. But even offensively, the production was sporadic and relied more on sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel's remarkable Joe Montanaesque scrambling abilities than any overall prowess. If Tuel had not been as mobile and savvy as he clearly is, he would have been sacked more than the five times he was in the game. Still, Tuel kept the Cougars in the game and put them in a position to win - that the defense promptly scuttled. The single consistently positive element of the Apple Cup was the crowd. Not only was it over 30K for the first time in 2010 but most of the crowd stayed after halftime instead of trundling off to nail down good seats at The Coug or begin their post-Apple Cup partying. This has been a rare sight at Cougar football games in the last three years and hopefully for Wazzu's football program, it will not be an anomaly in the future.
"I am extremely proud of the hoop team" says Al Fresco about the men's hoop team after Wazzu nearly upset Kansas State despite not being at full health.
The Lounge clientele is glad to hear you say that, Al. There is no doubt that Wazzu was clearly not operating at 100% - with sophomore point guard Reggie Moore coming off a wrist injury and junior forward DeAngelo Casto coming off a foot sprain - in the game against fifth-ranked Kansas State, yet the Cougars scratched and clawed their way to a 54-53 lead late in the game and had some shots gone in during the last 90 seconds, might have even had a chance to win it. But the Wildcats showed why they were ranked so highly as they fought off the Cougar challenge with some clutch late-game free throw accuracy. Two good things came from this game for the Cougars. First - validation. Wazzu can clearly play at the Big Dance level this year and when Moore and Casto are fully healthy, they might even have a shot at winning the conference. That lofty goal will require shooting guard Faisal Aden to get comfortable against Pac-10 opponents and more cohesive production from Brock Motum and Abe Lodwick along with anything Patrick Simon can produce. If all four of those factors are positive in a consistent manner then the Cougars - already with a talented core of Klay Thompson, Casto, Moore and Marcus Capers - have all the elements to go to the Big Dance. It is merely a matter of cohesion and health now. Wazzu has a defining game coming up against Gonzaga at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman - if they are to consider themselves Big Dance-worthy, this is a game that is a must-win - and if Wazzu wins this game, a top Pac-10 finish is within their sights
The voice of the freelancer in any industry is rarely heard - the Lounge knows this from painful experience - so it is with pleasure that we provide AdRANTS - a website that details some good [lingerie ads] and some bad [subservient chicken] from the ad industry. Pay special attention to the crying invoice.
It is the time of year when clouds dominate the weather forecast and the Lounge Scientists decided to conduct a little cumulus research and found that low, grey clouds are trending toward dissipating while high level clouds are - ahem - on the rise. Normally, that is nothing to get alarmed about but high-level clouds trap more heat which tends to warm up the Earth faster than us humans prefer. If current trends continue on pace, the planet's temperature may warm up a few degrees warmer in a quicker time span than previously surmised.
"If this [pattern] holds, we will find ourselves at the higher end of [temperature] predictions," says Lounge Scientist #10, Ralf Bennartz, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin who, reputedly, is preparing himself for a sunny disposition in January in Pasadena.
After Det. Frank Drebin knocks out a criminal attempting a holdup - Woman: "Say, that was nice work! You took a big chance doing that." Drebin: "Well, you take a chance getting up in the morning - crossing the street or sticking your face in a fan."
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