Pac-10 Preview: WSU #6

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by Griffin Bennett

There were two tales to tell last year for the Cougars. Klay Thompson was supposed to make a push for All-American status and couldn’t keep up his pace as the Pac-10 season hit stride. On the other hand, first year head coach Ken Bone found a great player in freshman Reggie Moore.
 
Overall, it was a disappointing year last year and it got worse over the summer. Some players did not like the change of game play styles between Ken Bone and former coach Tony Bennett. They have lost five players to transfers in the off season including some main young pieces from last year’s team.
 

Key Losses:
 
Nikola Koprivica – (10.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) – graduation
 
Xavier Thames – (4.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg) – transfer
 
James Watson – (1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg) – transfer
 
Michael Harthun – (1.7 ppg, 0.9 rpg) – transfer
 
Best of the Rest:
 
The Cougars are the only team in the Pac-10 that return their leading scorer (Klay Thompson), leading rebounder (DeAngelo Casto), and leading assist giver (Reggie Moore). That’s a pretty potent top three. Klay Thompson tops the list of impact returnees with his 19.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He will most likely repeat as an All Pac-10 first team member. He’s a top tier NBA prospect who can (if he’s not pouting all game) shoot the lights out.
 
DeAngelo Casto is built like a tank and has shown flashes of his immense potential the last two years but has yet to put it all together for a whole season. He is the Pullman version of MBA. I would look for Casto to excel in his second season in Bone’s system. He should build on his 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
 
Reggie Moore, out of high school, was billed as Gaddy-light. The second best point guard out of Washington went east of the mountains to prove he was the best and he out shone his counter part in 09/10 as he boasted 12.7 points and 4.2 assists per game last year. He took the slight against him personally last year and he took it out against UW.
 
Other returners to mention are: junior guard Marcus Capers (6.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg), soph forward Brock Motum (2.9 ppg, 0.8 rpg), and junior forward Abe Lodwick (2.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg).
 
The Cougs also have an incoming transferee by the name of Faisal Aden. He comes from Hillsborough CC where he averaged 20.4 points per game. He’s a 6’4” junior guard and looks to contribute off the bench immediately.
 
Incoming Freshmen:
 
It was a lackluster recruiting year for coach Ken Bone is his first full year. It’s always hard to get recruits in for your first year, but it’s even harder to get guys to come and live in Pullman. Not including the JC transfer, Faisal Aden, the best recruit the Bone nabbed would be 6’9” SF Patrick Simon from Ephrata, WA. Simon was a three star prospect, according to Scout.com, that could play minutes this year due to WSU’s lack of depth.
 
After that, there’s not much to write home about. Bone was able to grab the required Aussie in 6’6” SG Dexter Kernich-Drew. Kernich-Drew joins Andre Winston from Lakes to round out the new class.
 
Projected Starting Line-up:
 
PG: Reggie Moore – 6’1”
 
SG: Marcus Capers – 6’4”
 
SF: Klay Thompson – 6’6”
 
PF: Abe Lodwick – 6’7”
 
C: DeAngelo Casto – 6’8”
 
Outlook:
 
While they return all five starters, Capers and Lodwick wouldn’t start on most Pac-10 teams. Other than Faisal Aden, there is no one else that looks to break through into the starting line-up let alone contribute heavily off of the bench. TMC (Thompson, Casto, Moore) should all make an All Pac-10 team this year, but it’s the rest of the roster that is in shambles. This could have been an amazing year for Coug fans if Tony Bennett had not left and kept recruiting.
 
If they suffer an injury to any part of TMC, they will plummet to the bottom of the Pac-10 faster than the Locker’s Heisman campaign. While the Cougars look dangerous on paper, at some point Capers, Lodwick, Aden, and Motum have to play and that’s not pretty.
 
Prediction:
 
I wish I could see the Cougars not reaching .500, but sadly, they will be a tough team to beat on the road. A 9-9 record is mediocre, just like the Cougars. Maybe a CBI championship will get the Coug fans excited. Bow Down, Cougars.
 
How UW Beats Them:
 
I’m seeing a pattern here. Slap Holiday on Thompson, MBA/Aziz on Casto, and let’s see if Gaddy can make his rivalry with Moore more interesting. Obviously Romar knows Bone’s style of play, and vice versa, so there shouldn’t be any wrinkles that either team hasn’t seen. My guess would be that Romar will try to tire out TMC and use his deep bench to punish WSU’s second team. The Dawgs need to use their superior athleticism to press the Cougars on defense as well. While I’d like to assume a two game sweep this year, the games in Pullman always get the “ZZU CRU” (worst name ever) amped up and excited. While I’ll count it as two wins, I’ll write it in pencil.
 
Countdown Recap:
 
7. Oregon State  
8. Stanford  
9. California  
10. Oregon