COUGARS • UPDATED: 11:30 P.M.
It will probably be a while until my story is up on the web, but I thought I better put up a post before I brave the freeways back to my hotel. Read on for more on Washington State's 60-56 loss to USC on Friday.
• The bottom line is the Cougars didn't shoot well enough to win. That's how this team wins games and it didn't happen today. Hitting 22 of 60 shots, 6 of 17 3-pointers, just won't cut it. How much of that was USC's defense – the Trojans came in fifth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage defense at 40.4 percent – and how much of it was WSU's inability to knock down open shots was up-to-debate afterward, with USC's players crediting their tenacity and the Cougars bemoaning their missed opportunities. I thought it was a little of both, with Klay Thompson and WSU getting some good looks early, but USC clamping down as the day went on. But let's put it this way. Thompson missed 12 of his 18 shots and Marcus Simmons, USC's 6-foot-6 defensive stopper, said afterward, "I didn't think he would miss that many shots." Neither did Ken Bone. "I do think Klay just missed shots he usually makes," Bone said. Marcus Capers felt the same way, saying of Simmons' defense "If Klay don't have his little shooting slump he had, Simmons might be on the bench and someone else might be guarding him. ... First half, Klay got a lot of great shots. The second half, he was more into Klay. And he got a lot of help from his team." But that doesn't explain all the misses by Reggie Moore and Faisal Aden. Even Bone couldn't explain the latter's 2-for-11 performance (both makes coming off wide-open in-bound plays). "Faisal is usually much better," Bone said. "I don't have an answer to that one." But they all knew the consequences. "Everybody have their usual night, we win that game by 15," Capers said. Which might be a typical reaction here. At least Bone thinks so. "I think if we shoot normal, we have a great chance to win that game," he said. "But it's hard to shoot normal against them. Hardly anyone does. I bet you get that comment a lot. I bet they read that all the time." ... One guy who didn't have his normal game was DeAngelo Casto. He may have had his best game as a Cougar, considering he was going against the twin 6-10 towers of Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic. Casto was 8 of 11 from the floor, hit both his free throws, grabbed eight rebounds and had just one turnover, the same number as his blocks. "DeAngelo was outstanding," Bone said. "He did an outstanding job in a game where it's really, really difficult to go against two of the best post players in the conference." "Hats off to Casto," Capers said. "He was a beast tonight in the post on both ends." Casto said he just wanted to amp up the Cougars' energy level, which was lacking in the loss at UCLA. "On the road it's really hard to generate energy, so that's what I wanted to do today, just bring energy to our team, be the spark I've been in the past," he said. "My offensive game was game was just a little on today. So I just kept going at them. Those are guys who don't want to foul because they want to be in the game." ... So now the Cougars are 0-2 in conference and already two games behind UW after the first week. Anybody worried? "We still have to go and prove to people we are one of the best teams in the conference," Casto said. "But there's a lot of basketball left. We get to go home and essentially start fresh. Hopefully we're playing our best basketball in about 10 weeks." Bone echoed the sentiment. "We didn't want to be 0-2 but there's a lot of season left," he said. "And it comes down to who peaks at the end. We have a chance to be that team. I believe strongly we have a chance to be really good here in a few months. We're getting better and better." ... UPDATE: Here is the story.
• That's it for now. When my game story appears, I'll link it. Look for the update notice at the top of the post. Until then ...