PULLMAN – There was mayhem Friday night for Washington State University’s men’s basketball team as it kicked off the 2010-11 season with a Midnight Mayhem exhibition with the women’s team in a packed-to-the-rafters Bohler Gym.
The mayhem came in the form of a 3-point shooting contest, a defenseless 8-minute scrimmage and slam-dunk exhibition.
For the record, freshmen Patrick Simon (men’s 3-point contest), Sage Romberg (women’s 3-point) and Dexter Kernich-Drew (slam dunk) won the friendly competitions.
But there was also work, 21/2 hours of it in fact, that started coach Ken Bone’s second season in Pullman.
That came early in the evening and it was filled with physical drills and no-foul scrimmages, as Bone tried to teach WSU’s seven newcomers what to expect through the 31-game schedule that begins Nov. 5 with an exhibition against Lewis-Clark State in Beasley Coliseum.
“Intensity is an issue you deal with early on, but also physicality, just playing physical,” Bone said. “As we learned last year, whether it’s Kansas State, Gonzaga, a few other teams out there, we’ve got to be able to match their physicality.”
The Cougars started last year 10-2 in nonconference play but struggled down the stretch, getting outmuscled at times and going 6-12 in Pac-10 play – finishing last – and losing their opener in the conference tournament.
“We have to emphasize (physical play) more and more just so the guys understand it’s not going to get any easier,” Bone said.
Bone made his point, stopping practice often to stress a fundamental or a highlight a contact play.
“Practice was slower than we’re used to, because we have so many new kids,” junior guard Marcus Capers said. “With that, the returners have to become more leaders. We have to talk and bring us together more.”
One thing the Cougars emphasized in recruiting was shooting and in the 6-foot-8 Simon, 6-4 JC transfer Faisal Aden, who finished second in the 3-point contest after dominating an end-of-practice scrimmage, and 6-6 Australian Kernich-Drew, junior wing Klay Thompson (19.6 points per game last year) and sophomore point Reggie Moore (12.7) have some help.
But none of the newcomers are dominant inside forces. So nearly every drill was built around some sort of contact.
“I really expected it to be intense, and it was,” said Aden, who averaged 23 points and seven rebounds a game last year at Florida’s Hillsborough JC. “You can’t take a play off here, every thing you do is documented, every little mistake. It’s a whole other level.”