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December 26, 2010

The Cougar Lounge - Tropical Pudding

"Hats off to Thompson. Great players make great plays and that's what he did."

- Baylor shooting guard LaceDarius Dunn after Wazzu's Klay Thompson nailed a 25-foot three-ball that helped seal the Wazzu win over the Bears in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic.




"We usually don't shot 50% on three-pointers - but we're not bad."

- Wazzu head men's hoop coach Ken Bone after the Cougars went 12-for-24 on three-balls in their 83-57 rout of Mississippi State in the opening game of the Diamond Head Classic.




"There was a time where if you didn't get such a great match-up in the championship game, you'd be concerned. The way we sell it now, the match-up is just not a defining factor."

- ESPN president of sales and marketing, Ed Erhardt, confirming that - due to ESPN's domination of the college football market which produces season-long deals with conferences - there is no need for them to worry about which team makes the BCS's so-called football championship game.




"The radar shows that it looks like the vehicle is being pulled by all nine reindeer and it's pretty full of toys."

- First Lady Michelle Obama providing Santa updates to children calling in to the White House on Friday afternoon.








Once before, the Lounge had made the mistake of endorsing a team when we did not know it well enough and the clientele was all a-clatter and the din they raised caused so much of a noisy ruckus that we could not see straight - never mind thinking in a straight line. But that is not the case with this year's Wazzu men's hoop team and Santa - both of whom we firmly believe in. Santa brought the gift of clarity to the Cougars - in the form of two games in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu last week. The first gift came in the game against Baylor, where Wazzu was shown where they are and how much they have progressed over the course of a single year. The second gift came in the game against Butler, where the Cougars were shown - rather succinctly - where they are and how far they have to go to get to the magical Big Dance Land. Against Baylor, Wazzu proved they can belong in the Big Dance. Against Butler, they were shown by last year's NCAA finalist that the effort required in just getting to the Big Dance is quite different from the effort required in advancing in the Big Dance - those are two separate animals. But with their overall effort in the Diamond Head Classic, there can be little doubt that the Cougars proved they are, at the very least, Big Dance-worthy - at this point. That last disclaimer is important because the Big Dance wasteland is filled with teams that began the year looking like they were Big Dance worthy, only to fall off a cliff in the middle of the year or end of the year and never see Big Dance Land again. The Lounge does not believe this will be the case with the 2010-11 version of the Wazzu men's hoop team and neither does Santa - which is why he bestowed that two-game gift on the team in a nice tropical paradise environment.



It is important to get to Big Dance Land every year but this year will have extra added benefits because with the NCAA's new deal with Turner Sports [in conjunction with CBS], there is going to be plenty of exposure for any team making the Big Dance. Turner, CBS and the NCAA will work together to offer every single Big Dance game up for free live streaming in March. Turner will manage the March Madness on Demand production and all games are expected to be accessible on NCAA, CBS and Turner websites [which includes SI.com, where, recently, business operations have been turned over to Turner]. In short, any team making the Big Dance will have plenty of marketing opportunities available to them and their school and, of course, the deeper they go into the tournament, the more depth they will have in those opportunities.

Unfortunately, all 972 bowl games are clogging up the airwaves this week - well, it only seems like there are that many - in reality, there are "only" 35 bowl games and ESPN televises 33 of them, so if one stays away from the ESPN channels this week, one can, in theory, avoid such sparkling match-ups as those between 6-6 Illinois and 7-5 Baylor, 6-5 Army and 7-6 SMU and, of course, the barn-burner between 6-6 Kentucky and 7-5 Pitt. But CougZone has to pay attention to all these picayune bowl games because CZ is currently in a massive 324th place tie in the annual Phil Steele Bowl Game Pick'em and if mighty Florida International can win tonight against pesky Toledo, CZ will move up to 233rd place or so - maybe - and therefore pound our chests loudly and show the world what a powerful force of college football prognosticating exists in the universe. Or we can just drink some more eggog and leftover ham and mashed potatoes - one or the other. Whatever.

All we know is that ESPN is going to make tons of money in the next few weeks - and when we say "tons" of money, we literally mean tons of money. We are not talking mere millions or tens of millions or even hundreds of millions, we are talking about billions. Yes, that is right, Spanky - billions with a "b". Seems as though ESPN, like their BCS Taliban overlords, really have no interest in doing the decent thing and creating a college football playoff because, well, they are going to make a few billion dollars this year anyway, no matter who plays in the games. If a college football playoff were created, they would make more billions but if one is already making billions, what is a billion here and there between wealthy corporations controlling college football? As it stands now, ESPN will make somewhere between $5.27 and 6.84 billion dollars this college football season. They make this large amount of coin because of their carriage fees to cable systems [currently averaging $4.40 per subscriber] and since everybody wants to see college football games and ESPN has 33 of the 35 bowl games, guess which channels are the ones everybody wants? Advertising and sponsorship moolah? Peanuts. Well, maybe not peanuts when it will kick in between $1 and $2 billion - but definitely gravy. Money talks and if a playoff can notch those numerals up to double digit, then that is when the rich ESPN fat cats and their overlords will consider a college football playoff. Instead of what is in it for college football fans, they will solely be asking - what is in it for them? Or, more specifically, how much of it is for them?

"That was a good tournament but how does it translate to the Pac-10?" asks Roger Wilco upon the Wazzu men's hoop team's recent performance in the Diamond Head Classic.

Well, Roger, unfortunately for the Cougars, they cannot use the good credit tokens they received from wins over Mississippi State and Baylor - to get them any Pac-10 conference wins. However, they can use the experiences from playing those teams - even the experience they gained from the loss to Butler - to give them confidence when they face similarly talented teams and similar situations - and inevitably there will be similar situations - down the road in Pac-10 play. Wazzu's Diamond Head Classic performance established the Cougars as a definite contender for the Pac-10 title if - and only if - they play like they did in the wins over MSU and Baylor and learn from the second-half whupping administered to them by 2009-10 NCAA finalist, Butler. If they combine those experiences with prior lessons learned against Kansas State, Gonzaga and Santa Clara, the Cougars can be a legitimate Pac-10 champion. Right now, as Butler clearly demonstrated, they are no there yet but they are certainly amongst the top teams going into conference play this week and their first test will not have to wait long - UCLA on Wednesday in Los Angeles. We will see on Wednesday in Pauley Pavilion if the Cougars have learned their lessons from Hawai'i.

"The baseball team looks like they will be good this year," says Night Al looking past winter and into spring for the Wazzu baseball team.



Pre-season rankings have already placed Wazzu amongst the top teams in the land, Al, so there is no doubt that, nationally-speaking, people are aware of the Cougars' potential. The pitching staff took an off-season hit but overall, the team remains strong in pitching - though they will need some arms to emerge that have not yet produced results required to claim a Pac-10 title. Wazzu is certainly capable of contesting what will likely be UCLA as the established favorite for the conference crown but, as with the men's hoop team beginning to coalesce in their season, there will have to be that team chemistry and depth that head coach Donnie Marbut can be confident tapping into when he needs that extra hit or crucial pitching performance. If he can get that chemistry and depth - he already has the talent - then Wazzu will be right there in the thick of the title race in May.

The Lounge received some nice gifts from Santa but the season is about gift-giving not receiving. The problem with giving is always in coming up with the ideas. Fortunately, the Lounge has it covered - or rather, they have it covered at Patently Silly - a collection of real patent applications submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Office Gym Exercise Kit looks intriguing, as does the Voice Communication Concerning A Local Entity, but the real gift for somebody who has everything is the body hair and feet drying chair, when towels proves to be too strenuous.

The Lounge Scientists discovered cousins to Mel Gibson's clan, the Neanderthals - and evidently they were more advanced than Gibson and his group. The newly discovered group is called the Denisovans and they lived in Asia - roughly where Papua New Guinea is located - about 4000,000 to 50,000 years ago, but were always presumed to be Neanderthals until a chunk of DNA extracted from a recently discovered finger bone and wisdom tooth fossil proved otherwise - and stunning the scientists.

"The correct reaction when you get a surprising result is - what am I doing wrong?," says Lounge Scientist #400,000, Nick Patterson, a geneticist with the Broad Institute associated with Harvard University who, reputedly, found that several things wrong with the BCS Taliban when he discovered that a college football playoff was a good idea.

Happy New Year from CougZone!




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