During the 2004-05 season, sophomore Kate Benz will chronicle her experiences with the Cougar basketball team. Visit wsucougars.com for future thoughts from Kate throughout the season.
March 10, 2005
It's two o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon. Normally, I would be running through the Perfection Six drill at practice, but the season is over, and I suddenly find myself with too much time on my hands.
It feels like just yesterday we were preparing for our first exhibition game…our home-opener…our first league game. Only it wasn't just yesterday, and abruptly I am a junior with two years of experience under my belt - the sounds of my mother questioning, "Where does the time go?" echoing in my mind.
We did not enter the Pac-10 Tournament in last place, but we failed to achieve our goal of winning the first round game. Our match-up was favorable and familiar. We were both well-prepared and excited to play Cal, but our winning mentality and the final outcome of the game did not exactly harmonize. I felt truly unsatisfied leaving the locker room at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. I remember that same feeling last year - a helpless emptiness which left me baffled at the thought of what could have happened.
Many friends and fans try to offer their encouragement: "You have two more years…at least you're not a senior." Although these sentiments are offered as a sort of comfort, they frustrate me all the same. Yes, I do have two more years to compete as a Cougar, but what about these last two? Why does something inside me feel like I could have done more to contribute?
Although right now I feel like sulking because our team has yet to stay past the first round of the tournament, I am reminded of the leaps of improvement we have made. Just looking at our record or listening to insiders talk about our statistical improvements does not give justice to the little things this team has done.
I felt proud to enter the tournament banquet as a Cougar. Our coaches have told us all season long that teams fear the Cougs - that we are the team other programs are worried about competing against. I honestly sensed that feeling of respect while I chatted with other players and coaches. Sure we didn't have a winning season, but just as one example, we did give Stanford its closest game over the final dozen games of the conference season, and they are the No. 1 team in the entire nation right now.
Our two seniors on this year's squad are two of the most genuine people I have ever met, and I am still having a hard time grasping the fact that I won't be playing beside J.P. and Emma next year.
We learned the true value of the fundamentals, and some of us were reminded that a little extra work here and there is not a request but more a necessity for a rebuilding program.
We learned how to put issues aside and play as a team, and though moments of brilliance were often overshadowed by repetitive "Cougs lose another close one" headlines, we never gave up.
I guess the greatest lessons or pieces of advice I can offer after this 2004-05 season are that great challenges are not always something one can overcome in a short period of time. As the proverbs proclaim, everything happens for a reason, and good things come to those who wait.
Waiting is a relative term, however. Sure, we're waiting for our team to skyrocket to success, but we're not sitting on our hands. We're already pounding the hardwood, getting ready for our first exhibition game…our home-opener…our first league game.
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS