The Midnight Mayhem event at Washington State, kicking off the official start of the 2011-12 college basketball season, wasn't standing-room only in Bohler Gym, but there was a decent crowd on hand to get to know the men's and women's teams. Read on.
• Spent a few hours on basketball today and that makes me happy (I'm kind of a basketball junkie). But it sure was different watching Washington State practice today. No Klay Thompson. No DeAngelo Casto. Heck, no Ben Loewen, the walk-on from Mead who I've known for a while. But there were enough familiar faces – hello Abe Lodwick; good to see you Reggie Moore; how you doing Marcus Capers – blending in with the new folks to keep the flow in place. In other words, a typical college basketball season-opening practice. The Midnight Mayhem event wasn't a basketball happening, it was more marketing than anything else. The scrimmage featured about 98 percent shooting – D.J. Shelton missed a couple slam dunks – and little to no defense. The slam-dunk contest featured a couple of outstanding efforts – Capers off the shot clock and through; Dexter Kernich-Drew a couple of 360-degree throwdowns – but had a few misses as well. The Cougars will be concentrating on rebounding, setting and using screens, transition defense, basically the important but not flashy things that can make a difference in a close game. We'll check in with them from time to time to see how it's progressing. Three things stood out to me among the players. Mike Ladd, the transfer from Fresno State, brings energy to practice and his competitive nature lifts everyone's effort. No wonder his teammates voted him a team captain. DaVonte Lacy isn't built like your typical freshman. And Brock Motum has put on about 15 pounds, much of it in his chest. He's starting to sport the build of a post player while still being able to nail the 15-footer. ... One other Spokane note. The Cougars have some players visiting this weekend and one of them is Shadle Park's Brett Boese. The 6-foot-6 forward has been offered by WSU, along with other schools. ... We have a story about the first day of practice and a preview of Saturday's football game against Stanford for you to read.
• That's all for now. We will be back in the morning. Until then ...