Washington State Looks to Return to Its Winning Ways

Lew WrightSenior Writer IDecember 2, 2008

For the first time during the tenure of head coach Tony Bennett, Washington State lost a basketball game played during the month of November. It should also be pointed out that it's the first time his Cougs have faced a nationally ranked opponent early in the season.

After advancing to the Legends Classic final, WSU fell to the Big East powerhouse, Pittsburgh. The Cougs played the Panthers tough in the first half, but seemed to run out of gas after intermission against the physical play of Pitt.

Coach Bennett will lead his team onto Friel Court in Pullman, WA, to play the Bengals of Idaho State. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST.

Idaho State is off to a rocky start, sporting a 1-4 record over its first five games.

The Cougs traveled to Pocatello, ID to play the Bengals in late December last season. It was well worth the drive. WSU defeated Idaho State 75-45 on its own court.

There is optimism about how the Bengals are going to fare this year after finishing second in the Big Sky, advancing to the semifinal of the conference tournament.

A key to the progress of Coach Bennett's team will be improved play by Taylor Rochestie. The Panthers took Rochestie out of his game after seeing how MSU covered him.

The fifth-year senior is likely to make the necessary adjustments to return to his form of the past two years. WSU needs his leadership on the floor, but not at the cost of turnovers and lackluster offense.

There's no reason to think that Rochestie won't step up his play. The talented, crafty southpaw clearly misses the core players from last year's squad. However, he is learning the abilities of his new teammates.

Look for coach Bennett to give plenty of players PT. He's still trying to get a feel for what player combinations are capable of.

A win tonight will put Washington State back on the cusp of being ranked in the top 25.


Idaho State Bengals  vs.  Washington State Cougars

7pm PST - Friel Court, Pullman, WA

Televised on Fox Sports Northwest