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NOTEBOOK

Cougars' Bennett Happy Just to Be in Tournament

March 12, 2004|Bill Dwyre, Paul Gutierrez

Interesting how different expectations drive different teams.

Coaches of the current Pac-10 powerhouses, Stanford and Arizona, could live nicely without this postseason event. Both Mike Montgomery and Lute Olson have expressed some dissatisfaction when the conference decided in 2002 to do what most others do and resume a postseason tournament that had not been held since 1990.

For Dick Bennett and his have-not Washington State Cougars, just getting in the eight-team field at Staples Center was a big deal.

"It was a goal of ours that we achieved this year," Bennett said.

That was seconded by graduating senior Marcus Moore, a player from Inglewood, who said, "Getting here is a goal I've had since I went to college."

Moore led the Cougars in scoring in his final game, with 17 points.

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Bennett, a veteran coach with a national reputation, who coached for years at Wisconsin colleges and then took Wisconsin to the Final Four in 2000, came to Washington State after three years of retirement. At the time he called it quits, he used the term "burnout."

So the length of his stay in Pullman is never certain, but with his son, Tony, on the bench with him and a good-progress first season under his belt, Bennett seemed positive about the future after Thursday's loss to Stanford.

"I knew this would be tough," he said, "but I was pleased.

"We weren't good today, but we were strong for most of the second half of the season. This went a little better than I thought it would."

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Even though Montgomery tried to take the pressure of going unbeaten off his team all season, once a loss happened in last week's game at Washington, making the Cardinal 26-1, Stanford's Matt Lottich found the feeling not at all to his liking.

"It just left a sour taste in our mouths," Lottich said. "I don't want to have that feeling at all again this year."

-- Bill Dwyre

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With six assists in Oregon's 87-82 defeat of California, Duck senior small forward Luke Jackson became only the fourth player in the history of the Pac-10 to have at least 1,800 points, 600 rebounds and 300 assists in his career.

Jackson currently has 1,873 points, 715 rebounds and 404 assists.

The others: Arizona's Sean Elliott (2,555, 808, 451), Stanford's Todd Lichti (2,336, 697, 304) and UCLA's Toby Bailey (1,846, 670, 458).

-- Paul Gutierrez

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Arizona State sophomore forward Ike Diogu said that he would stay at Arizona State instead of making himself available for the NBA draft.

Diogu led the conference in scoring this season with a 22.8 average.

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