Don’t want to waste any time thinking of something witty to say to entice you to read on. So I’ll say just a few words. Klay Thompson, 37 points. That enough?
• I know you didn’t get to see it, because it wasn’t on television. In one of the few perks of this job, I did. And it was as impressive in person as it might have sounded on the radio. Thompson was spectacular from the start, hitting his first five shots, 10 of 12 in the first half – he had 22 at intermission – and finishing 15 of 20, missing just one shot from beyond the arc. … Only eight Cougars have scored more than Thompson’s 37, with former Cheney High star Brian Quinnett having done it twice. He has the school record 45 points against Loyola-Marymount in Iowa City and a Beasley WSU-record 44 against USC. The names above his in the WSU record book include Guy Williams (43), Steve Puidokas (42), Marcus Moore (42), Stuart House (38) and Isaac Fontaine (38). … Not to be forgotten, Thompson also played solid defense, with a block and two steals, and passed the ball when it was called for, tying for team-high three assists. … The Cougars hit 18 of 22 foul shots, including two by Thompson after IPFW coach Dane Fife was hit with a technical. He played a while at Indiana for Bobby Knight, so there’s that. … The Cougars won the rebound battle 35-33, but that’s deceptive. IPFW had 13 offensive rebounds, which is something coach Ken Bone pointed out. That’s too many for his tastes. … James Watson and Steven Bjornstad scored their first career points. Xavier Thames made his first 3-pointer and tied a career high – is three games a career? – with seven points. … Deilvez Yearby was the focus of WSU’s defense and the 6-6 forward showed why at times, beating the Cougar bigs down the court a handful of times in transition. But between Abe Lodwick, Nik Koprivica and, for a while, DeAngelo Casto, who did the best job. Yearby was 6 of 16 for a team-high 17 points. He was also 5 of 11 from the line, which brings up a new rule. This year if a player can’t shoot his free throws after he’s fouled, and it isn’t a flagrant, the opposing coach gets to pick the free throw shooter from the four players on the court. When Ben Botts was hurt on a Moore foul with 4:40 left, Bone picked Yearby, who was 3 of 9 at the time. “He buried both of them,” Bone said, laughing. “That’s my fault. I didn’t think he’d make them.”
• Here’s the unedited version of the game story …
PULLMAN – As a shooter, Klay Thompson rises above most collegiate players.
And that’s literally what Washington State’s 6-foot-6 sophomore did over and over again Thursday night, rising above the Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne defenders to score a career-high 37 points and leading WSU to an 89-70 win before 5,399 in Beasley Coliseum.
“It wasn’t really a game plan,” WSU coach Ken Bone said, “we’re just telling Klay to be aggressive.”
And he listened.
The Summit League’s Mastodons (1-2) tried to guard Thompson with 6-2 Zach Plackemeier.
“I felt I was in his face a lot,” said Plackemeier, one of three Mastodons with 13 points. “He was just hitting everything.”
The only part of Plackemeier in Thompson’s face was his hand, and at times even it wasn’t that high.
Not on Thompson’s first shot, a 10-foot turnaround from the post. And not on his second, a 22-footer in transition.
Thompson didn’t miss until the 12 minute, 29 second mark. He had 11 points by then. He scored 11 of WSU’s first 16 and 15 of its first 22 points. And his last basket came with 6:40 left, despite the best efforts of his teammates.
“We tried to get him 40,” said Xavier Thames, who was one of three Cougars who had seven points, “but he wouldn’t shoot the 3 at the end.”
Maybe because WSU wasn’t threatened. The Cougars led by 15 midway through the first half, by 13 at intermission and as much as 27 after that. Besides Thompson, Reggie Moore added nine points as the Cougars (3-0) were not bothered by IFPW’s defense, shooting 54 percent and turning the ball over just nine times.
When did Thompson know it was going to be his night?
“After my second turn-around shot in the post,” he said. “That’s kind of a difficult shot. I figured if both of those go in I would get in a great rhythm. They just started falling.”
When Thompson is shooting like he was – his line: perfect on five free throws and 15 of 20 from the floor, with eight makes inside 10 feet and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc – it may not matter who is guarding him.
“I don’t know if it makes a difference if the kid guarding him is 6-8, 6-2 or 5-10,” Bone said. “He’s been told he needs to score.”
“He’s our best defender,” IPFW coach Dane Fife said of Plackemeier, who guarded Thompson all but a short second-half stretch. “I told Zach, ‘If we played Washington State tomorrow, you’d be right back on Klay Thompson. I’ve got that much faith in you. But you’re guarding a (future NBA) first-rounder. Welcome to the NBA, kid.’ ”
Right now all Thompson wants to do is improve his game and help WSU win. They are interrelated.
“I’m trying to work on post game a lot, especially with a smaller guard on me,” said Thompson, who played with teammate DeAngelo Casto on the United States’ U-19 team this summer. “I played against a lot of good players this summer and I saw them get to the foul line. They could really work inside. So I tried to learn from them.”
Or try to rise above them.
IFPW will travel up the road to Spokane to face Gonzaga tonight.
• That’s it for now. We’ll be back in the morning. Until then …