We're in the wilds of California – yes, they do exist – visiting my sister's family en route to the Fresno State game tomorrow night in the Save Mart Arena. Ran out of the hills for a few minutes to send out my advance for tomorrow's paper. You can find it on the link, so read on.
• I was thinking that someday people will look at the Internet as our version of the Pony Express. But until then we have to find a Starbucks. Anyhow, we find a place to sit, write and send. This is what will be in the paper tomorrow in its unedited glory. ...
FRESNO – Peruse the Washington State season statistics and something is just-polished-glass clear.
The Cougars' offense is revolving around their guards.
More specifically, right now, Klay Thompson and Faisel Aden.
The two juniors have combined to average 46 of WSU's 86 points a game in the Cougars' 3-0 start.
The 6-foot-6 Thompson, who has converted 60.5 percent of his shots, and the 6-3 Aden, the junior college transfer who has given the Cougars another outside threat, have been enough to get by the likes of Southern, Idaho and the University of Portland.
But down the road, where coach Ken Bone sees highly ranked Kansas State, Gonzaga and the Pac-10, not to forget tonight's foe, Fresno State, 28-5 the last three seasons in the Save Mart Center here, the Cougars need more from the inside.
"There are times I think we look really good, especially on the perimeter," Bone said after the 84-68 victory over Portland in Seattle on Tuesday. "But, inside, even though I think we did a pretty good job on (Luke) Sikma – he had six rebounds and was averaging almost 14 – we've just got to be better inside, have a better post presence on both ends of the court.
"Until we do that, until we can get that, I think we can be good, but to get to that next level, we need some better production out of our bigs."
The four Cougars who played a majority of the time at the 5 (center) and 4 (power forward) positions against Portland combined for 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Thompson and Aden's numbers? Fifty-six points and eight rebounds.
The inside scoring numbers should improve – starters DeAngelo Casto and Abe Lodwick are averaging 9.3 and 3.0 points per game respectively – when point guard Reggie Moore returns from a left-wrist injury and injects his penetration ability back into the offense.
But until then Casto has to do most of his scoring out of the post, where the 6-8 junior has struggled to control the ball – his 13 turnovers leads WSU – and finish.
Casto, Lodwick, et al, will be challenged tonight by 6-10 sophomore Greg Smith (8.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and five blocks, all team bests) and 6-8 Nedeljko Golubovic, second on FSU (1-2) in 3-point attempts.
Moore, who has his slightly fractured scaphoid bone in a cast, was looking forward to tonight's game for personal reasons.
The 6-1 sophomore signed a letter of intent with Fresno State in November of his senior season, but changed his mind and asked for a release. It was not granted and Moore spent a season at a New England prep school before enrolling at WSU.
• That's all for a while. We won't be back until Friday afternoon, so enjoy your holiday. Until then ...