Will Washington State Learn from Their Loss to Washington?

Lew WrightSenior Writer IJanuary 5, 2009

Coach Tony Bennett and his Washington State basketball staff have had time to review the game film from their Pac-10 opener with the UW Huskies. The films offered a combination of how to get things done and how things can get away.

It's the latter issue Coach Bennett will focus on after his team suffered a 68-48 loss this past Saturday.

There's little to question about the Cougs in terms of talent. The roster is stocked with the talent needed to win in the Pac-10 and make a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

When it comes to conference play, it takes more than raw talent, though. Suddenly, the Cougs are finding that success isn't coming easy this year.

"The big difference is we don't have the same guys as last year who can create for themselves," said Caleb Forrest, senior WSU forward/center. "We have to start to do things together more as a team, and I don't think we've done that as well as we're capable of yet."

Forrest knows the answer to why it's been a rough ride for WSU when playing tough competition.  Forrest understands that if he and his mates play 40 minutes of Bennett Ball, they are likely to earn a victory.

As the Cougs work in practice this week, their focus will be on execution of their offense.  That sounds pretty simple, but only becomes reality through hard work.  

The talent and skills of the young guns on this team will only result in victory when they act and react instinctively.  That is going to happen with this group, no question about it. However, it's going to take mental toughness to maintain the necessary focus to execute at both ends of the court.

"Whether it's at the end of the game or the start of the second half, when those bad stretches come, it's kind of like when it rains it pours," Bennett said.

"A lot of things go wrong, it isn't just a quick shot or a missed shot or a turnover, offensive rebounds. That's tough that we're not capable of sometimes withstanding those kinds of runs when teams put them against us. That's hard.''

Learning Bennett Ball is almost like riding a bike. First, you need help getting the feel of balancing. Your coach will hold you up while you are tentatively pedaling.

After shaking and wobbling, you head off on your own only to discover that stopping the bike is the real trick. Soon, you're on your own following a series of skinned knees and elbows.  One day, riding with no hands will seem simple.

The point being made here is that the hard work put in by the Cougar young guns has them looking for a lot of bandages.  In time, they will find that playing Bennett Ball is as natural as riding a bike with no hands.