COUGARS • UPDATED: 1:30 P.M.; 4:10 P.M.
A quick post to let you know what we've tweeted already. Washington State was picked fifth in the Pac-10 men's basketball media poll. The order: 1. Washington; 2. Arizona; 3. UCLA; 4. Arizona State; 5. WSU; 6. USC; 7. defending champion California; 8. Oregon State; 9. Stanford; 10. Oregon. Read on.
• UPDATE: We have a bunch of links for you concerning Pac-10 basketball media day. First up is this post from the Oregonian on WSU. ... Percy Allen of the Times has this story on the Huskies being picked to win. ... More from Jon Wilner on the poll. ...
• UPDATE NO. 2: We finally got a chance to watch video of coach Ken Bone and Klay Thompson on stage (literally) at the Pac-10 media day. We taped their comments and want to share some of them here. There was also a release containing some of their quotes, but only sporadic parts of what they said, so we won't send you there. We've filled them in here. ...
Bone's opening remarks: “We are obviously looking forward to another season after finishing not the way we wanted last year. We are anxious to get back out there, see what we can do and change our place in the standings this next season. ... We feel that we have a chance to be pretty competitive in the Pac-10, and we’re looking forward to that.”
The new players: "We have three freshmen and a junior college transfer. I'll start with the freshmen. Andre Winston is a quick guard out of Seattle, and he’ll probably end up backing up Reggie Moore but there's times when those two could play together. Andre has got a pretty good feel for the game. Like I said, he's a good athlete, very quick and good defender. Patrick Simon, who is from Ephrata, Washington, a small town out in the middle of nowhere, kind of like Pullman. He committed to the program four years ago. He committed four years ago and now he’s finally a Coug. A 6-8, 6-9 kid who has good instincts and can really shoot the ball. He’s an outstanding shooter with a quick release. He not only can make shots, but he can extend defenses because he's such a weapon out there. We also have a young man out of Australia, Dexter Kernich-Drew. He's about 6-6, 6-7 about 170 pounds. I wish I was exaggerating, but he's a thin kid. He is very skilled and extremely athletic. Not sure he'll see a lot of time this year, as a matter of fact we're considering redshirting him, but he's got a chance to be pretty good down the road. And our junior college transfer was a guy we wanted to bring in to help Klay out, so he wasn't the only shooter or the only target on the court to try to stop. Faisal's out of a junior college in Tampa, Florida, Hillsborough Junior College. He's a very good shooter and actually a very good scorer. He finds ways to score off the bounce a little bit too. Once he picks up our defensive schemes – which some of you are probably wondering, what are those – he's going to be a pretty good player. He’s going to be able to give us some good depth, which we really lacked last year."
On Klay Thompson's play the second half: “We've been able to surround Klay with better scorers and maybe not so much of the load will be all on his shoulders like it was last year. When Klay wasn't making shots, as a team we were in trouble. ... We tried to go to Reggie Moore a lot more, but with him being a freshman, he did what he could but after that we didn't have other guys who could put the ball in the basket at the level we needed in the Pac-10. Create their own opportunities to score. With the addition of Faisal Aden and the work that Klay's done, when I say that, the first thing that comes to my mind is, Klay's known as a great shooter, but the other day in practice when he ends a scrimmage with 10 assists and one turnover, that's pretty impressive. He is getting a lot better understanding that there is such a great focus on him, he’s doing a great job setting up other guys. ... We're feeling like we can go out and compete this year and hopefully finish games at a better level.”
On the Pac-10 this year: “It really helped that Washington and Cal represented our conference well in the NCAA tournament, especially Washington (last year). ... They lost a great player in Quincy Pndexter, but they're bringing some really good guys back, and they’ve recruited some good players. With the exposure Washington received last year, late season and in the tournament, and other players in the conference like Klay Thompson, the conference , it won't be down for long. Last year it was down. But it will not be down for long and we will compete nationally this year.”
Klay Thompson on what he did to get better: “This summer I focused on getting quicker and stronger because that will help me be more efficient with my scoring and setting my teammates up and just improving my overall athleticism. It will help me take my game to a new level instead of being one-dimensional. I can be more versatile and help my teammates, be a playmaker.”
His international experience: “I got a gold medal which was the best part. What I took away from that is that I can compete with anybody because I played against some of the best players in the world my age. It gave me a new boost of confidence when I went there knowing I could compete with some of the best kids in college basketball and some of the best kids around the world."
On wearing down last year: "It was a little bit of both, but that's the role I wanted to take, being the go-to scorer and one of the go-to players. That's why this is such a big year. With the improvements I made this summer, I’ll be that much more efficient. I've got a lot of help this year with Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto. We got some good newcomers. ... I’m looking forward to playing with Faisal Aden because can really score an he's going to help me out a lot.”
On his brother, Mychel, who plays at Pepperdine: “Me and my two brothers, Trace and Mychel, always used to compete because we were so close in age. We grew up playing every sport together, whether it was football, basketball or baseball. It was fun. Whenever we have time, we still play one-on-one and hoop as many times as we can. We played a lot this summer. It’s great to see him play at Pepperdine, and I think he’s going to have a big year this year.”
• That's all for now. We'll be back in the morning with our usual posts. Until then ...