PULLMAN – Ken Bone is sure of one thing. Klay Thompson is a great shooter.
No matter the Washington State sophomore is shooting just 36.6 percent from the floor in Pac-10 Conference play and even lower (24.2) from beyond the 3-point arc.
No matter Thompson’s scoring average has dipped to 21.6 points a game, second (to Stanford’s Landry Fields’ 22.3) in the conference statistics for the first time this season.
And no matter Thompson was 2 of 15 from the floor Saturday against Washington, tied a season low with seven points, and has hit just 29.8 percent of his attempts the past three games.
“He’s a great shooter who hasn’t been shooting well,” Bone said Tuesday. “We’re trying to get him where he’s getting better looks at the hoop, even though he’s had some good looks and hasn’t put them down, he needs to hit a few.
“Once he gets his confidence back, he’ll be fine.”
If confidence is all Thompson needs, Tuesday’s practice went a long way in that regard. The 6-foot-6 wing was burning the net from all over Friel Court as the Cougars prepared for Arizona State on Thursday.
That doesn’t surprise Thompson. Like all great shooters, he feels his next make will come on the next shot.
“I don’t feel like it ever left,” he said of his shooting stroke. “I just had an off-game the last couple games. … You can’t lose confidence, because then it will carry over to more games.”
It’s a pro attitude from a college player, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Thompson’s dad, Mychal, had a long NBA career and is still involved with the league, doing color work on the L.A. Lakers’ radio broadcasts.
Mychal talked with Seattle radio personality Kevin Calabro about Klay’s play Monday, touching on the 13 misses against the Huskies.
“You have a bad shooting day, just throw that one away,” Mychal said he told his son. “Don’t lose confidence and stay aggressive.”
However, Mychal wasn’t as forgiving of his son being late for the bus to the airport Friday, a move that cost Klay a start for the first time in his WSU career.
“There is no excuse for that,” Mychal said. “I was never late once. He said, ‘I didn’t know what time the bus was.’ How come 12 other guys knew what time the bus was?”
Bone said he’s looking for ways to get Thompson – and inside presence DeAngelo Casto, who hasn’t hit double figures since the Arizona game four weeks ago – more scoring chances.
“We need to create some opportunities for them where they can be a little more successful,” Bone said.
That’s fine with Thompson. All he wants to do is hear the sound of the ball swishing through the net.
“It’s always good to hear shots go through,” he said. “I think everyone likes that sound. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t.
“It’s kind of rough just hearing clanks the whole game.”
Koprivica in groove
One Cougar who has been shooting well all season is Nik Koprivica. The senior is hitting 56.5 percent of his shots, which includes a Pac-10-high 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Koprivica made his first start of the season vs. Washington, though Bone said he’s not sure if Koprivica will return to his sixth-man role.
“The reason we made the change the other day was more because of his ball-handling skills against a team the caliber of Washington,” Bone said. “Whether he starts or Abe (Lodwick) starts, I think they both are going to end up getting the same amount of minutes (each game).”
Koprivica is averaging 9.1 points a game in 23.5 minutes, although both have risen – 10.1, 28.6 – in Pac-10 games.
Oregon was the recipient of another interesting technical foul call last Saturday. The Ducks were leading USC 49-47 with 4 minutes, 35 seconds left when Trojans student manager Stan Holt was whistled for a technical foul. Oregon went on to win 67-57.
“The referee told me he was screaming obscenities at him,” said USC coach Kevin O’Neill, who fired Holt after the game.
Asked if the incident was a topic of conversation among managers, Ben Cartmell, one of WSU’s two head managers, said it was. Asked if he was surprised at what happened, Cartmell was noncommittal.
“Yeah, but not really,” said Cartmell. “When you get into a game, it’s one of those things that happens. Like a fan running onto the court. It’s all in the moment.
“But I’m surprised he actually said something that got the official’s attention to get the technical.”
Cartmell knows a little about the officiating aspect as well. His dad, Dick, is one of the more respected Pac-10 officials and has worked Final Fours in the past.