Cougar Hoops: Something Worth Watching

Now what channel are Coug games on? It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten.

This week Cougar hoops will be on TV and I am here to tell you that despite your reservations, you should tune in. I know, its been open season on Ken Bone and Cougar basketball around here, and for good reason. No matter who we beat all I can do is look at our schedule for what it SHOULD be with 3 gimme wins over Utah, Arizona State and UC Riverside. It makes me insane. But something occurred to me this weekend as the Cougs went on the road to Oregon and came home with a hard fought split, or as we call it round these parts… a Huddy. There is a reason to tune in this season, and one we shouldn’t take for granted. What is it? You know what to do…

While this season is, at best, forgettable, there is something going on that we are certain to look back on with nostalgia many years from now. Brock Motum. The Aussie is having one of the best seasons ever for a Cougar big man and has put himself firmly in the conversation for greatest Cougar big man of all time.  It’s not a very long list, and certainly not full NBA hall of famers, but its not very often we get to have a player as good as Motum in crimson and gray, especially in the paint. Historically our stars have been on the perimeter, but we have had our fair share of good ones down low. Recently Steve Puidokas was inducted into the WSU Hall of Fame who, along with fellow big man James Donaldson, helped resurrect Cougar basketball in the 70’s. In the 80’s I grew up following Brian Quinnett and the human flag pole, Todd Anderson. Then, in the 90’s, my friends and I made Beasley our second home, cheering on the likes of Rob Corkrum, Ken Critton, Fred Ferguson, Tavaris Mack and crowd favorite Tommy Otis. During the Bennet years we all loved guys like Jeff Varem, Ivory Clark, Robbie Cowgill and Reed Forest. And of course none of us will ever forget DeAngelo Casto. But over the years there have been a select few that would make my list of favorite Cougar big men of all time (keep in mind, these are not the greatest of all time, but rather “my favorites” of all time). Here are my top five:

#5 – Aaron Baynes

He’s ok, Australians just sweat blood.

Baynes was the closest we ever came to having our own Shaq. By his senior year he was a force to be reckoned with. I miss having the biggest, strongest guy on the floor night in and night out.

#4 – Brian Paine

In case you were wondering, there’s no way he blocked this shot.

Brian Paine is proof positive that a great mustache is all you need to get on one of my top five lists (In case you don’t believe me, Rico Rowe is on my top 5 favorite guards list). He’s also apparently so old I can only find pictures of him in black and white. Paine posted modest stats in his roughly 15 year career for the Cougs. In fact he seemed to dedicate himself almost entirely to drawing charges. Still, when Beasley was “The House of Paine” it was truly a sight to behold.

#3 – Mark Hendrickson

Hendrickson was an absolute beast in his time on the Palouse. He was a banger on the boards, a finisher in the paint and also a threat to drop bombs on you from deep. He was, quite simply, one of the greatest all-around players we’ve ever had. It also helps that he has gone on to play in both the NBA and MLB.

#2 – Brock Motum

Brock has moved all the way up this list because he posesses all the tools of Hendrickson, but with even more athleticism (though I have yet to clock his fastball). He has made dramatic improvements every year in the program and if the current pace continues he could even be our next NBA draftee. He also toils away on a team that is hopelessly mired in a slough of perpetual mediocrity, something he shares with my #1 favorite big man.

#1 – Carlos Daniel

I would happily go shirtless for an entire year to have another Carlos Daniel on the Cougs.

Carlos Daniel also happens to top my list of greatest forgotten players in Cougar history. Daniel was the quintisential “beast” of a forward and completely carried the team on his back during some of the most mediocre years in Cougar history… the Eastman Era. Some of Daniels dunks are seared into my memory, and I think he is the only big-man who could hold his own in a dunk contest agains the likes of Marcus Capers and Neil Derrick. His combination of athleticism, size, toughness and skill basically made him Ivory Clark on sterroids and I can honestly say, even though we weren’t winning a lot, I always enjoyed watching the Cougs play when Carlos Daniel was on the floor.

So there are my top five, and who knows, with a moster senior campaign maybe Motum will supplant Carlos Daniel at the top. I know some of you are screaming, “How could you forget Ken Mathia!” (The 7′ Mathia is most famous for a missed dunk attempt during which he both traveled AND broke the backboard). Or perhaps some of you old timers are wondering, “what about Bob Gambold?” I encourage you all to join me in the comments with you own lists. Also, tune in this Thursday and watch Brock Motum do his thing against Arizona.

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Day: Thursday
Date: Feb. 16, 2012
Location: Pullman, Wash.
Time: 6:00 p.m. PT
TV: FSN/ROOT
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