2007-08 Men's Basketball Season in Review
May 15, 2008
COUGARS END HISTORIC SEASON IN `SWEET 16': The historic 2007-08 season put together by the Washington State University men's basketball team (26-9) came to an end at the hands of then-No. 1 North Carolina with a 68-47 defeat in the East Regional Semifinals at Charlotte, N.C., March 27.
COUGARS TIE SCHOOL RECORD WITH 26 WINS
Washington State tied its school record set last season with 26 wins this season, matching last year's win total as the 2006-07 team finished 26-8.
With its 20-win season, WSU has recorded 20 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1940-41 and 1941-42 seasons. Jack Friel led his Cougars to four-straight 20-win seasons from 1938-42.
With 26 wins this season, the Cougars have won 25-plus games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
Not only is Tony Bennett the second WSU head coach to lead his team to consecutive 20-win seasons, he is just the third Cougar coach to notch multiple 20-win seasons at the helm for WSU.
RECAPPING THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Seeded fourth in the East Region, the Cougars defeated Winthrop 71-40 in the First Round of the tourney.
After going into intermission tied at 29, WSU allowed just 11 points in the second half, outscoring Winthrop 42-11.
In the second round, WSU defeated fifth-seeded Notre Dame, 61-41. The Cougars held the Fighting Irish to its fewest points in a half and fewest points in a first half under eighth-year head coach Mike Brey, tying marks set in 204 and 2003 with just 19 points.
WSU held an opponent to under 20 first-half points for the seventh time this season and the 10th time in a half.
The Cougars fell to No. 1 seeded North Carolina, 68-47 in the East Regional Semifinals. The Tar Heels ended up advancing to the Final Four.
WSU shot a season-low 31.6 percent from the field and suffered a double-digit loss for just the third time in the season.
WSU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Cougars have made five trips to the NCAA Tournament, holding a 6-6 record in the tourney.
This season WSU advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time in school history.
The only other time the Cougars have won two games in the tournament came in 1941 when the field consisted of eight teams.
WSU has never advanced to the regional finals since the field expanded to 16 teams in 1951.
Second-year head coach Tony Bennett is the fourth WSU head coach to take his team to the NCAA Tournament and just the second to take his team twice, joining George Raveling, who took his 1980 and 1983 squads.
Bennett is the first WSU coach to earn back-to-back NCAA bids.
BENNETT REACHES 50-PLUS CAREER WINS
WSU's 75-70 victory over Oregon March 13 gave second-year head coach Tony Bennett the 50th win of his career. He is 52-17 (.754) as head coach at WSU.
Bennett has the seventh-most wins by a WSU head coach. The only coaches with more wins than Bennett coached at least five seasons.
He already has more wins than two four-year Cougar coaches.
Bennett is tied for fourth in NCAA Division I history for the best start by number of wins by a head coach in his first two seasons. Bill Guthridge holds the record with a 58-14 mark in his first two seasons at North Carolina in 1998-99.
Last season Bennett put in the 13th-best coaching debut in NCAA Division I history as the team went 26-8.
WSU EARNS BEST ALL-TIME RANKING
Washington State jumped three spots in the Dec. 24 Associated Press Poll and two in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls, coming in at No. 4 in both rankings.
The No. 4 rankings are the highest for the Cougars in school history by the respective polls.
WSU's previous high was No. 6 which was held this season. Now ranked No. 21, the Cougars have been ranked in the top-25 in all 20 releases of the polls thus far this season, including their first-ever preseason ranking.
COUGARS OPEN WITH BEST START IN 91 YEARS
Although their winning streak was snapped at 14, the Cougars opened the season with their best start since the 1916-17 National Championship team opened 15-0.
The school record is 17-0, accomplished in 1914-15.
WSU also went through nonconference play without a blemish for just the fifth time in school history and the first since 1935-36.
LOW, WEAVER EARN HONORS
For the second-straight season seniors Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver earned Pacific-10 All-Conference honors. Low was named to the third team, while Weaver picked up second team accolades.
Weaver was also named to the All-Pac-10 Defensive team.
Both Low and Weaver were named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division I All-District 14 team.
This was the second-consecutive season Weaver earned the honor, the first for Low.
Weaver was also named to the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Men's All-District IX Team. It is the first USBWA honor for Weaver, Low made the team last season.
On top of those awards, Weaver was named Colleginsider.com All-Definsive All-America, Rivals.com All-Defensive and an Honorable Mention All-American by CollegeHoops.net.
COUGARS TAKE PART IN FINAL FOUR ACTIVITIES
Derrick Low participated in the Midas Touch 3-Point Championship at the 20th Anniversary State Farm 3-Point and Slam Dunk Championship April 3. The contest was broadcast on ESPN.
Low placed third in the semifinal round, advancing to the semis after a 20-point performance in the first round.
Darnell Harris of LaSalle took home the 3-point crown, while Tennessee's Chris Lofton placed second.
Robbie Cowgill competed as a member of the American All-Star Team in the DiGiorno College All-Star Game April 4.
Cowgill's team fell to the National All-Stars, 106-100.
COWGILL NAMED PAC-10 SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Senior Robbie Cowgill was named the Toyo Tires Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, league officials announced at the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament.
The four-year starter excelled on the court, in the classroom and in the community, adding a 3.36 grade point average to his seven-plus points per game.
The Pac-10 acknowledges Pac-10 Scholar-Athletes of the Year in each of the league's 22 sports.
Five Cougars earned 2008 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball All-Academic honors.
Robbie Cowgill, Daven Harmeling and Taylor Rochestie were named to the first team.
Aron Baynes and Nikola Koprivica picked up second-team accolades.
This is the second-straight season and second time in school history the Cougars have earned three spots on the Pac-10 All-Academic First Team.
Marked the first time in school history the Cougars have had five men's basketball student-athletes receive Pac-10 Academic honors in the same season.
WSU led all conference schools with five honorees.
COWGILL EARNS ACADEMIC HONOR
Senior Robbie Cowgill has been named to the ESPN The Magazine District VIII All-Academic First Team as voted on by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
A native of Austin, Texas, Cowgill has a 3.36 grade point average in management of operations and will graduate this spring from the Honors College.
WSU VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
WSU got its first win over a higher ranked opponent March 22 with its win over No. 15 Notre Dame.
The Cougars are 42-202 all-time against top-25 opponents.
Their meeting with the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels was the 26th all-time meeting with No. 1 for the Cougs and the first this season.
The Cougars are 0-26 all-time against the top-ranked team in the nation.
UNC was also the first No. 1 team WSU has faced that was not a member of the Pac-10.
WSU is 17-5 in games played outside Pullman, marking the fifth most road/neutral-site wins in the nation this season. North Carolina led the nation with a 22-1 mark in games outside of Chapel Hill.
WSU went 10-3 on the road this season, marking the first time since 1946-47 that the Cougars have accomplished that feat. It is also just the 11th time in school history a WSU squad has won 10 or more games on the road.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE THE ROAD...
Taylor Rochestie showed a noticeable difference in his shooting on the road this season compared to games played at Friel Court.
In games played on the road (including the tournament at Spokane and the neutral-site game at Seattle), Rochestie shot .497 from the field (79-for-159) and .506 from 3-point range (39-for-77).
He averaged 11.1 points per game in those contests.
In games played at Pullman's Friel Court, Rochestie shot .412 from the field (40-for-97) including .311 from 3-point range (14-for-45). He averaged 9.2 points per game at home.
In WSU's March 8 game versus UW, Rochestie scored a season-best at Friel Court with 16 points. He also made more than two 3-pointers for the first time at home this season, finishing with four (4-for-8).
LOW SETS 3-POINT RECORDS
Senior Derrick Low set the school record for 3-pointers in a season when he hit two against Notre Dame Saturday, March 22.
He ended the season with 92 3-pointers made. The school record was previously 89 set by Jan-Michael Thomas in 1999.
Low finished his career with 220 3-pointers made, just 13 treys away from the WSU career record of 233 set by Eddie Hill (1991-94).
THE 1,000-POINT MILESTONE
Senior Derrick Low became the 28th Cougar to score 1,000 career points just three points into WSU's win over Oregon State Jan. 17.
Kyle Weaver became the 29th Cougar to score 1,000 career points on his first basket against USC Feb. 9.
The last Cougar to reach the milestone prior to Low was Thomas Kelati (2002-05) who reached 1,081 points in Low and Weaver's freshmen season.
Low and Weaver became the first Cougar teammates to reach the milestone in the same year since Terry Kelly and Don Collins in 1980.
Three Cougars have never reached 1,000 career points in the same season.
WHEN WEAVER AND LOW SCORE DOUBLE-DIGITS
WSU's game against North Carolina March 27 marked the fourth time this season the Cougars have lost when both Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver score in double-figures.
The Cougars were 13-4 this season when each of the backcourt duo puts up 10 or more points in the same game.
WEAVER DOES IT ALL
Kyle Weaver is believed to be the first player in Pac-10 history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 150 steals and 75 blocks in a career.
WEAVER GETS PAST 19...THREE TIMES
In the 107th game of his WSU career, Kyle Weaver reached the 20-point plateau for the first time with 23 points against Stanford Feb. 2.
Weaver had scored in double-digits 53 times in his career prior to his 23-point performance.
He added his second career 20-plus point game March 8 against UW with 20 points.
His previous career high was 19 which he reached twice, including once this season.
Weaver bettered his career high with 25 points in the third meeting with Stanford March 14. He also added his second double-double of the season and sixth of his career. Both double-doubles came against Stanford.
The 25-point performance was the first time Weaver had scored 20 or more points in regulation.
Junior Aron Baynes, at 6-10, 270, was an effective inside presence for the Cougars this season.
Baynes finished tied for third on the team with 10.4 points per game, led the team with 6.0 rebounds per game and was second with 26 blocks this season.
He controlled 31 of the 36 jump balls he's vied for this season (including overtimes).
Baynes averaged just over five points and nearly three rebounds more this season than last season (5.2 points, 3.1 boards).
ROCHESTIE PICKING IT UP THIS SEASON AS WELL Junior Taylor Rochestie's numbers went up tremendously this season compared to last season.
Tied for third on the team this season in scoring with 10.4 points per game, he averaged just 4.6 points per game last season.
Rochestie also went up in assists (this year: 165; last year: 66), rebounds (this year: 3.2; last year: 1.4) and most notably, minutes played (this year: 34.9 mpg; last year: 16.8 mpg).
LOW IN THE SECOND HALF
Senior Derrick Low was key in the clutch for the Cougars this season.
When WSU trails or is tied at the half, Low is averaging 14.5 points per game.
Of his 14.5 points per game, 11.8 of them came in the second half.
Low has scored in double-figures seven times in the second half when WSU is trailing, including 24 at UCLA.
Low has not scored in the first half seven times, he has not scored in the second half just once (60-53 loss at Stanford March 1).
PUTTING IT AWAY
The Cougars finished the season with 107 dunks on the season. Sixty-three of WSU's 107 dunks came from Aron Baynes, while Robbie Cowgill had 26.
Last season the Cougars as a team had fewer dunks than Baynes did this season with 56.
Last season the dunk leader was Ivory Clark with 31 dunks, Baynes had five and Cowgill had three.
Five different Cougars had dunks this season (Baynes, Cowgill, Kyle Weaver, Caleb Forrest, Thomas Abercrombie).
DEFENSE CLAMPS DOWN OUT OF CONFERENCE
Although the Cougars finished third in the nation allowing 56.4 points per game, they are allowed even fewer against non-Pacific-10 Conference teams.
WSU allowed just 49.7 points against opponents not in the league. Prior to their game against UNC, the Cougs' last five out of league opponents (Notre Dame, Winthrop, North Carolina A&T, Idaho State and The Citadel) scored a combined 205 points, averaging 41 points per game.
WSU allowed more than 65 points to a non-Pac-10 foe just twicee this season, giving up 74 to Boise State and 68 to North Carolina.
COUGARS VS. NCAA TOURNAMENT OPPONENTS
Following the NCAA Tournament, WSU was 12-8 this season against teams that competed in this year's NCAA Tournament. Two WSU opponents reached the Final Four (UCLA and UNC).
Outside of the tournament, the Cougars faced 10 teams that are in this year's tournament, including five in nonconference play and five in the Pac-10.
They defeated USC (twice, No. 6-Midwest), Gonzaga (No. 7-Midweset), Oregon (three times, No. 9-South), Baylor (No. 11-West), Boise State (No. 14-East), Portland State (No. 16-Midwest), and Mississippi Valley State (No. 16-West).
The Cougars fell to UCLA (twice, No. 1-West), Stanford (three times, No. 3-South) and Arizona (twice, No. 10-West).
ROCHESTIE NAMED V FOUNDATION FINALIST
Redshirt junior Taylor Rochestie was named one of 14 finalists for the eighth annual V Foundation Comeback Award.
The annual award was open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all divisions.
It is awarded to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma.
The award is presented annually in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation.
ROCHESTIE GIVING BACK
Redshirt junior guard Taylor Rochestie decided to voluntarily come off his scholarship for the 2008-09 year, his senior season. Rochestie made the decision in order to free up another scholarship and give back to the program.
WSU Head Coach Tony Bennett said of his guard's decision, 'I think this shows how much of a leader and great teammate Taylor is and for him to want to do something like this to help establish the future of our program in this manner is just incredible.'
COWGILL'S STARTS STREAK ENDS
Senior Robbie Cowgill was left out of the starting lineup at Arizona (Jan. 24) for the first time since his freshmen season (Feb. 12, 2005).
Cowgill had started 82-consectutive games for WSU, marking the fourth-most consecutive starts by a Cougar since starts were kept beginning in 1982-83.
Most Consecutive Starts (starts kept beginning with 1982-83 season)1. Mark Hendrickson - 108 (1992-96)
2. Isaac Fontaine - 90 (1993-97)
3. Keith Morrison - 86 (1982-86)
4. Robbie Cowgill - 82 (2004-present)
COUGARS ON TELEVISION
Sixteen of the Cougars' 18 Pacific-10 Conference games were televised live on either FSN or ABC this season.
The Cougars appeared on television 24 times this season, which passes the 2005-06 team for the most televised games in school history.
LOW AND WEAVER REPRESENT WSU; USA
Seniors Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver became the first Cougar men's basketball players to represent the United States when they participated in the 2007 Pan American Games.
The duo, which made WSU just the eighth school to have two student-athletes on the same Pan Am squad, helped team USA to a 3-2 record and fifth place finish.
Low started three games averaging 14.3 points in those contests.
Weaver saw action in three games, starting two and averaging 2.7 points.
ABERCROMBIE AND BAYNES AT WORLD GAMES
Redshirt freshman Thomas Abercrombie and junior Aron Baynes represented their native countries of New Zealand and Australia, respectively, at the 2007 World University Games.
Abercrombie, of Auckland, New Zealand, averaged 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in route to a 15th place finish. Baynes of Cairns, Australia was third at the games in scoring and second in rebounding with 18.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in leading his team to a 17th place finish.
COUGARS GO INTERNATIONAL
The Cougars traveled to Australia and New Zealand for a 14-day international tour in June, 2007.
WSU played six games in a nine-day span, finishing the trip with a 4-2 record, with both losses coming by one point. Among the highlights of the trip were visits to the homes of Auckland, New Zealand native Thomas Abercrombie and Cairns, Australia native Aron Baynes'.
PLAYING IN FRONT OF FANS
The Cougars averaged 9,237 fans in their 13 games at Friel Court this season, ranking fourth amongst Pac-10 schools.
Home attendance average was up nearly 2,500 fans than last season.
WSU's 120,083 total fans at Friel Court this season is the most in WSU history.
LOW AND WEAVER MAKE MIDSEASON CUTS
Derrick Low was one of 30 collegiate men's basketball players to be named to the midseason John R. Wooden Award candidate list.
Kyle Weaver was named to the Naismith Trophy midseason top-30 list. Both players were named to both the Wood and Naismith preseason lists.
WSU GETS FIRST WIN AT MAC COURT IN 13 YEARS
With its 62-53 victory over the Ducks Feb. 16, WSU got its first win over Oregon at Eugene in 13 years (since Feb. 18, 1995).
The Cougars also got their first sweep of the season series over the Ducks since 1995. WSU pulled off the sweep of the Oregon schools for the first time since 1995 as well.
UCLA ONLY TEAM LEFT ON THE LIST The Cougars snapped a 13-game losing streak to Oregon with its 69-60 victory over the Ducks Jan. 20.
The win was the first over Oregon for head coach Tony Bennett. It was also the first for all members of the team, including the seniors who have now defeated all Pac-10 teams with the exception of UCLA.
The last senior class to defeat all Pac-10 schools came in 1989.
BOEKE'S WSU DEBUT DELAYED WSU received an official ruling from the NCAA regarding freshman Fabian Boeke's eligibility.
He has been reinstated by the NCAA subject to the withholding penalty of sitting out the 2007-08 season and the loss of one season of eligibility.
Boeke will have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning the fall of 2008. In the meantime he is eligible for athletics aid and practice.
SAULS, ABERCROMIE GRANTED RELEASES
Redshirt freshman guard Thomas Abercrombie has been granted his release from the WSU men's basketball program and plans to return to his homeland of New Zealand to pursue his basketball career and continue his education.
Freshman guard Stephen Sauls has been granted his release from the WSU men's basketball program and plans to transfer to a school closer to his hometown of Missouri City, Texas, after a concussion ended his season early in January.