Well, I'm back. Physically, if not mentally, just yet. Still in that would-rather-be-on-vacation mindset. So where were we? Anything happen while I was playing hooky? I guess a few things. Read on.
• About 4 a.m. this morning, when I couldn't sleep, I tried to figure out a way to post about all the crud that happened over the past month, most of it old news to many of you. There is no way, I'm sure, I can make information about arrests, arraignments, etc., fresh, since most of those happened in the early part of my vacation. And, because WSU still hasn't announced any final decisions on athletic budget cuts (though there is some news on that front), it would be hard to go into depth there. Plus I'm sure most of you could care less about my personal wanderings the past few weeks (although a couple of comments asked for an update). So, in this post, we'll focus on basketball information, which includes some pretty big news on the injury front, and get back to the older news as the days progress and we can add some information and insight.
There's good news and bad news on the basketball front. The good news is Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto (or Angelo DeCasto as one of Fox's announcers called him last season) made the United State's U-19 team playing in the World Championships in New Zealand. But the experience turned out to be a debilitating one for Casto. The 6-foot-8 sophomore, who will be counted on to carry a big load inside for WSU next season, was playing well, averaging more than six points and three rebounds a game through the first four games. But he did something to his knee in that fourth game, an 85-69 win over Greece in which Casto had six points and five rebounds. It turns out Casto has a torn meniscus in his right knee, according to USA Basketball, and will not play the rest of the tournament (there's a good explanation of meniscus injuries on CougCenter, though the extent of Casto's injury is unknown). Whether or not he will have to have surgery is still up in the air, but there's no doubt Casto will miss the next few weeks on the court. Which should allow him to focus on academics during the last summer session and the early part of the fall, not a bad thing for a player who came into WSU with something to prove academically. As for Thompson, he has turned into the U.S. team's best 3-point threat (no surprise there) and one of its most consistent rebounders (now that's more of a surprise). The 6-6 wing, who is playing more of a small forward in the U.S. scheme, has 13 rebounds in the last two games, and has pulled down seven twice in the tournament. And, not to forget, he's second on the U.S. team in assists, averaging 2.7 per game. The U.S. (6-0) is in the quarterfinals and will face Canada, with two Gonzaga recruits, Friday (or today for us, I think – I never can figure out when it is in New Zealand).
The other undefeated team in the tournament is Australia (the Aussies will play France in a quarterfinal), and incoming recruit Brock Motum has been one of the team's stars. The 6-9 forward is averaging a team-leading 15.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game. So, other than the Casto injury, the tournament has been a highlight for WSU this summer.
Nik Koprivica has been playing the last week as well, helping host Serbia in the World University Games in Belgrade. Because this isn't a FIBA event, news is a little harder to come by, but Koprivica had three points in the Serb's 68-46 quarterfinal win over Turkey. His best game of the tournament came against Greece, in which he scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in an 81-50 win. You can find some information on the Euro Basketball site and I'm sure many of you have found other sites as well.
• Off the court, the Cougars picked up another incoming recruit, center Steven Bjornstad out of Vancouver's Columbia River High. The 6-10. 225-pound Bjornstad originally signed with Nevada but, when coach Mark Fox took the Georgia job, asked for his release. The school granted it in June and Bjornstad started looking for a new place to land. He visited Pullman, where his presence in pickup games earned him mostly positive reviews from the players – his size will be an asset, according to the ones I talked with, but he'll need to get in a lot better shape if he wants to play Ken Bone's style. Because Bjornstad already signed his one letter of intent, he signed a Financial Aid Agreement with WSU, which binds him to the school and allows the Cougars to talk about him. "Steven adds depth to a position we really needed in the post," Bone said in a school release. "He has a really nice frame, is a very skilled big kid who can pass it and is an outstanding shooter. I believe he has the skill set to develop into a real nice Pac-10 player."
• That's it for the basketball news for now. After we let our fingers – they are woefully out of typing-shape – rest, we'll be back with more. Until then ...