Practice was long today, like more than two hours long. So the usual daily afternoon post has stretched into the evening. Read on.
• We're working on a story for Thursday on James Watson, whose personal journey to Pullman has been a series of roadblocks that had to be overcome. But, like Andy Dufresne, he's come out clean on the other side. We were finishing up our interviews after practice and will have the story up here after practice tomorrow. Coach Ken Bone talked a little about one of the roadblocks tonight on his radio show, the heart condition that reared up at the end of last basketball season, but Watson is no longer suffering from any symptoms and has been fully cleared to play. ... As I said in the lead-in, practice was long today, as WSU had to take Monday off due to NCAA rules. The emphasis was on fine-tuning offensive and defensive schemes, taking the basics of which there has been slippage lately and tying the loose ends back down. ... Not only does Bone have an hour-long radio show today, but he also holds a 15-minute press call in the morning and appears on the Pac-10 conference call for another 10. As you can guess, there is some overlap in questions. ... You can listen to Bone's WSU call in its entirety here (thanks Nuss for doing that work). ... The high points: He answered my question about parity in the conference by citing Washington being in the cellar, yet having one of the better teams. He used that to springboard into some thoughts on Cal, which might be the conference's most talented team – and its most experienced – but has been slowed by a series of injuries in nonconference play that hurt the Bears against the nation's better teams. ... He still has a sour taste in his mouth because of the Oregon loss. ... The highlight of the first day of classes: No one was late for anything. He went on to say the players being last Sunday – A couple of minutes at the most by Marcus Capers and Watson to the morning walk-through and DeAngelo Casto to the bus – was an aberration not the norm. ... He calls defending the Cal guards – Patrick Christopher, Jerome Randle and Theo Robertson – a "challenge," but the Cougars take pride in their defense so they feel its one they relish. ... The bigs are another matter, with the height being not as much of a trial as their thickness and strength. ... With no Pac-10 team in the AP poll for the first time since 1987, the local AP writer asked about the conference's perception. Bone admitted he hadn't had much time to look at polls. I followed up by mentioning the Cougars' two ranked opponents, Kansas State and Gonzaga and asking if they were much better than, say, ASU, who look dominate Sunday. Bone agreed with how well the Sun Devils played that day, but said they, and the rest of the conference, had been inconsistent. He then used Oregon State and its week – a 51-point loss (typo fixed) to Seattle U., followed by an upset at Oregon – as an example. ... There was some conversation about Xavier Thames, Reggie Moore and Michael Harthun, much of which has been covered here before. ... On the Pac-10 call, Bone covered much of the same ground as earlier, though he compared ASU's defense to the Dick Bennett version of the Pack. ... He's not harping on the ASU game with the team. "It's like any other time you play a game," he said. "You have to move on." Especially with Cal coming in Thursday. ... He did say he's not sure the Cougars have a player who can handle Randle and admitted they will play at least some zone. ... Finally, his take on the Pac-10 thus far: "It's been crazy." Amen to that.
• That's it for now. We'll be back in the morning with links. Until then ...