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March 27, 2011

The Cougar Lounge - Confessions Of March Madness


"There has been a great deal of discussion regarding DeAngelo and his situation over the past 24 hours. In reviewing new information that has been brought to my attention, I am removing DeAngelo's suspension effective immediately and he will be available to participate in tonight's NIT Quarterfinal game. There are unique circumstances involving this matter and I feel the appropriate avenue to take is to allow the legal system to run its course before we consider further action."

- Wazzu athletic director Bill Moos after he un-suspended Wazzu men's hoop forward DeAngelo Casto after his arrest for possession of marijuana and subsequent suspension for last week's NIT quarterfinal game against Northwestern in Pullman.




"I was open to start the game."

- Wazzu junior shooting guard Klay Thompson after nailing back-to-back three point shot attempts to open the Cougars' eventual NIT second round win over Oklahoma State.




"The one where he tipped it to himself and got a three-point play late was remarkable."

- Butler head men's hoop coach Brad Stevens talking about freshman Khyle Marshall making a particular play late in the game to help the Bulldogs beat Florida and advance to the Final Four for the second consecutive year.




"She wanted to be late for her own funeral."

- A representative for the late legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor explaining why the funeral services began 15 minutes late - as per Taylor's request.









March Madness is down to their Final Four today and the Lounge is selfishly unhappy about the prospect of no basketball after next week. No hoop knowledge to pretend to exploit, no bracket predictions to brag about or cry over, no hoops after next week. In summary, it will be a very sad 300 or so days until next March. There will be no more miracle buzzer beating shots flung up from somewhere near Saturn, no more upsets from tiny schools [Morehead State] over monstrous schools [Louisville] and perhaps worst of all - no more displays of perfect team effort and heart and spirit than is exemplified by the Butler Bulldogs. On the other hand, there will also be no more whining about losing from the Washington Huskies and Gonzaga Bulldogs, nor more displays of poor sportsmanship from Florida Gators, nor having to see Duke's name - at all - in the Final Four. For this, all members of the Lounge are grateful.



Now, Wazzu fans and well-wishers can concentrate on the lone Pac-10 team remaining playing men's basketball - the Washington State University Cougars. Yes, with Arizona being ousted by Connecticut in the Elite Eight, that leaves Wazzu as the lone conference representative still playing men's hoop in 2011 when they take on Wichita State in the NIT Final Four on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In fact, not only is Wazzu the sole remaining Pac-10 representative playing hoop in the land, they are also the only team west of the Rockies to be playing. Future Pac-12 colleague Colorado is also in the NIT Final Four - but they are in the Rockies, so the Lounge does not count them as genuinely west of the mountain range. That is a soothing thought to Wazzu fans and well-wishers but it could be made all the more soothing if junior shooting guard Klay Thompson decides to stay for one more year in Pullman along with embattled junior forward DeAngelo Casto [we will get to him in a second]. After the Cougars' win over Northwestern in the NIT quarterfinal, Thompson made the student section hyperventilate when he extended one finger in response to their chants of "one more year!" Thompson later backpeddled slightly on that gesture, saying it did not necessarily mean he would be back for one more year but it is safe to say if he and Casto return for their final seasons in Pullman, Wazzu will have good shots to both win the Pac-12 as well as go back to the Big Dance next year.

Meanwhile, Casto [along with Thompson and sophomore point guard Reggie Moore] is battling a marijuana problem - as in he [and they] need to stop being caught with it. Casto, Thompson and Moore have all been cited for marijuana possession in the last four months - but only Thompson went so far as to issue a public apology for his actions. Casto protected his poor decision to roll a joint after Wazzu's win over Oklahoma State by getting a lawyer and going after the Pullman Police Department's equally poor decision to be in the peeping tom business as well as conveniently forget a few rules of the law. That decision - backed by Wazzu athletic director Bill Moos, no less - allowed Wazzu head men's hoop coach Ken Bone to remove Casto's suspension for the game against Northwestern and Casto's contributions, in turn, helped the Cougars win the game. Whether or not those multiple decisions will all have an effect on the Casto, the team, the program and the university in the future, remains to be seen, but suffice it to say that it did not shed a good light on any of the participants in this soap opera no matter what perspective it is viewed.

Casto's drama completely overshadowed the good news that Wazzu hired a new volleyball coach in former player and assistant coach Jennifer Stinson Greeny last week. Stinson Greeny replaced Andrew Palileo, who resigned unexpectedly under what continue to be murky circumstances. Stinson Greeny was known as Jennifer Stinson when she played for the Cougars under legendary head coach Cindy Fredrick and then later coached under Fredrick before ultimately becoming a successful head coach at the NAIA level with Lewis-Clark State just down the road apiece in Lewiston, Idaho. Stinson later married Wazzu baseball player Burdette Greeny. Palileo's mystery departure aside, it is probably the best hire Moos could make at this point as finances would not allow a top assistant from a top program to be hired but it may wind up being the best of both worlds as Stinson Greeny understands what it takes to win in Pullman and has already been a proven winner as a head coach - albeit not on the Division I level yet the Pac-10. If Stinson Greeny has the same type of success she had at L-C State, the Cougars could be in for a pleasant surprise.

It was a surprise - but whether it can be determined to be pleasant or not rests upon the shoulders of those making the assessment - that the Oxford English Dictionary allowed the entry of OMG - an abbreviated form of "oh my god!" The Oxford did not stop there though - also allowing LOL [laugh out loud] and IMHO [in my humble opinion].

"I'm not sure whether I should applaud or boo - but I do know one thing - New York has too many taxis," says Father Lotto, presumably, about the Wazzu men's hoop team's win over Northwestern in the quarterfinal of the NIT last week and the team's penchant for marijuana usage.

Well, Father Lotto always has the right words - or at least some words - on the tip of his tongue and in this scenario, the case is particularly puzzling. While it is indeed good that Wazzu was able to get wins over Oklahoma State and Northwestern last week to secure the school's first-ever trip to the NIT Final Four, there is also the realization that marijuana usage is currently a team problem and since marijuana usage has not been documented to help one's basketball play get better, there is not even that remote inkling of justification available for cushioning and excuse-making. So it is a bittersweet trip to New York for most Wazzu fans and well-wishers as well as those in the Lounge clientele. By the time Tuesday evening arrives, nearly all will at least temporarily forget the marijuana ordeals and concentrate on game rooting - but once the season is over, Bone, Moos and the Cougars will all have some challenges to face.

"I like being ranked in the pre-season no matter what sport it is," says Marcus O'Realius about the Wazzu rowing team's pre-season #12 ranking.



Rowing under Wazzu head rowing coach Jane LaRiviere has been one the school's most successful athletic programs - both academically and athletically - over the course of the last seven years. There have been multiple appearances in the NCAA championship regatta as well as multiple achievements along the way [such as defeating rival Washington on numerous occasions]. But for Wazzu to be this close to the Top 10 before an oar blade has even had a chance to hit the water in anger means that LaRiviere's group could have a chance, in 2011, to improve on her previous best national finish [fourth] and that will be just another feather in LaRiviere's cap - and a quick vote reveals that the Lounge consensus is that it is unlikely that any of LaRiviere's rowers will be arrested or charged with marijuana possession.

Trying to figure out who will advance in the NIT is just as tough as trying to figure out who will advance in the Big Dance [VCU - anybody have them in their Elite Eight bracket models? We thought so…] and there can better expression of this than 2011 Bracketology from Bankroll Sports, which had Harvard and Wazzu playing in the second round instead of Wazzu and Oklahoma State.

Finally, the Lounge Scientists address the problem which plagues many basketball players and which will be seen on national television today and through next week - which hand to cover - a guy's right hand or left hand? Whether or not the right is better than the left? That is an entirely different question and one which, evidently can be changed, as scientists found out in a recent study where 55 students were equipped with a heavy glove on one hand, asked to stack dominoes and then asked a question designed to determine dominance between their left and right hands. Results showed that the students change their minds depending on a positive outcome.

"If wearing a glove for a few minutes can reverse our decisions about what's good or bad, maybe the mind is more malleable than we thought," says Lounge Scientist #55, Daniel Casasanto, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics who, reputedly, prefers to dunk with his right hand.

The Lounge's Big Dance bracket absorbed a brutal hit with Ohio State's and San Diego State's losses and now resembles something the dog dragged out of the gutter.




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