WSU men’s basketball starts over
PULLMAN – The sizzle came later in Bohler Gym, as Washington State’s men’s basketball team joined with the Cougars women in their annual Midnight Mayhem season-kickoff event.
But the meat came earlier, just down the hall in the recently remodeled practice facility.
For more than two hours, the Cougars practiced, officially beginning the 2011-12 basketball season, the first in coach Ken Bone’s three-year tenure without Klay Thompson or DeAngelo Casto, the leading scorer and rebounder of the last two seasons.
“It’s going to be different, but it’s just something we gotta do,” said junior point guard Reggie Moore, noticeably thinner after an offseason working on improving his quickness. “They went on to bigger and better things, so it’s something we’ve got to adjust to and make happen.”
That process began last spring, according to senior forward Abe Lodwick. He, along with senior Marcus Capers, returns as a captain, joined in a team vote by junior transfer Mike Ladd.
“We’ve been working hard since the spring on to come together as a team,” Lodwick said. “Just busting our tails to grow team chemistry, which I think will be our biggest asset this year.
“It has to be five guys on the court and the other 10 guys on the bench. This is one of those years where it’s going to have to be every man on the team.”
Besides Moore, who was limited during last year’s 22-13 season by a since-healed wrist injury, and Lodwick, the Cougars return another starter in Capers and five other letter-winners. New to the mix are two redshirts (Ladd and freshman Dexter Kernich-Drew) and four other newcomers that could see time.
Lost when Thompson and Casto left early for the professional ranks are 33.6 points and 12 rebounds, two areas the Cougars began working to improve in the first practice.
“We need everybody to be involved,” in the rebounding, Bone said.
As for the scoring, Bone emphasized it will take each player helping his teammate get open.
“We don’t have anybody who could create shots, get them off and elevate the way Klay did, being 6-7 with his athleticism,” Bone said. “Going back to the screening, we have to be that much better getting guys open or else it’s going to be really difficult to get good shots off.”
If practice was about team play – screening, rebounding, defending – the Midnight Mayhem event was about individual performance.
In front of a boisterous crowd, both teams were introduced, both coaches addressed the crowd and then the women put on a 3-point shooting, the men a light scrimmage.
The finale was a slam-dunk contest, with 6-6 redshirt freshman Dexter Kernich-Drew successfully defending his title, defeating senior Marcus Capers in the final.