UW's Quincy Pondexter backpedals on this prediction
The Huskies forward claimed UW would beat WSU during a TV interview, but now says that it wasn't a guarantee.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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"We're going to win."
It's funny how four little words can spark so much discussion.
Washington forward Quincy Pondexter didn't intend to create a stir when he predicted victory this Saturday in Pullman, but we're dealing with Huskies, Cougars and a basketball rivalry that celebrated its 100-year anniversary last week.
"You don't need to add any more fuel," he said before Tuesday's practice. "I wasn't trying to."
But that's exactly what he did at the conclusion of a TV interview Sunday night on KCPQ Channel 13.
When asked his prediction for the Washington State game, he replied: "We're going to win."
What else was he supposed to say, right?
Athletes are faced with this dilemma all the time. Invariably at some point in the season, they're asked to predict the outcome of a game.
A common response goes something like this: "It's going to be a tough game. We're going to try our best and we'll see what happens."
Pondexter, a senior captain and the face of the Huskies this season, took a different approach.
On Tuesday, he clarified his comments.
"It was nothing like a guarantee," Pondexter said. "I know it's going to be a tough battle on Saturday night. It was a question that I felt I should have answered that way. I think if anyone was in the same position, they would have said the same thing. It was far from a guarantee.
"We already know this is a big anticipated game by everyone in the Pacific Northwest. There's a lot at stake for both teams."
Washington State (16-11, 6-9 Pac-10) has been eliminated from the regular-season conference race while defending champion Washington (18-9, 8-7) is mathematically alive.
Both teams seek to improve their seeding in the Pac-10 tournament, whose winner is guaranteed an NCAA tournament berth.
WSU coach Ken Bone didn't have a problem with Pondexter's comment.
"That's what he believes, and that's what he should believe," Bone said during his weekly conference call. "People have made comments like that in the past. Sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are wrong.
"Quincy's a great kid and he's had a great year and I'm sure that's what he believes. And that's what he should believe."
While Pondexter retreated in a verbal backpedal, sophomore star Isaiah Thomas rushed to embrace the unusual brash response from UW's leader.
In an interview with KJR-AM radio Tuesday morning Thomas said: "Like Quincy said the other night, he guarantees a win and I do too. I'm behind Quincy 100 percent."
Thomas said the Huskies took umbrage when the Cougars were trash-talking and showboating during the first half of their game last month in Seattle.
WSU led 40-36 at halftime, but was outscored 56-24 in the second half in the 92-64 UW win.
"They were (popping) their jerseys, smiling and all of that," Thomas said before Tuesday's practice. "They had their opportunity to do that. They were playing well. We (weren't) really playing that good, but we shut them up and won the game."
Before Thomas' arrival in the fall of 2008, Washington State had a seven-game win streak in the cross-state rivalry. He is 3-0 against the Cougars.
"The only good game we played against them was the Pac-10 championship game last year," he said of the 67-60 UW win. "They played good basketball. But all of the other games have been somewhat blowouts."
When told the Cougars might use his comments as bulletin-board material, Thomas said: "They can. I haven't said nothing that's not true.
"They can do what they want. Just like we used (it as) motivation when they were on our court being a little cocky and smiling and talking mess. But it is what it is. ... Just make sure you win when you do all that stuff."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.orgBASKETBALL
UW men @ WSU, 7 p.m. Saturday, FSN
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