The "Midnight Mayhem" show is still going on, but our deadlines are such I had to send my first-day-of-basketball story to the office for tomorrow's S-R. So I decided to post the unedited version here. Read on.
• Here's the story on the first day of practice ...
PULLMAN – Work first, play after.
That's how the most recent incarnation of Washington State University basketball began Friday night.
First-year coach Ken Bone began the 2009-10 season with an up-tempo, three-hour affair that featured, as Bone said, the Cougars taking small steps toward becoming his team.
"It's just a matter of reiterating a number of things that collectively becomes our philosophy," Bone said. "It's really just teaching the guys right now a style of play that we would like to play and for them to grasp that concept in all facets."
Then the Cougars, with a roster that features 15 freshmen and sophomores, celebrated with the women's team, going through an opening-day show at Bohler Gym for the first time since coach Dick Bennett stepped on campus six years ago.
The "Midnight Mayhem" performance followed the volleyball team's 3-0 sweep of USC, building on the more than 2,000 in attendance for that contest to usher in the basketball season.
But it was the practice prior that laid the foundation for Bone ball, as the Cougars (17-16 last season) began making the transition from the Bennett era.
Asked the differences, sophomore guard Marcus Capers emphasized the team's youth over the change in coaches.
"Klay (Thompson) should get more open looks, and DeAngelo (Casto) running up and down the court, that's like his game," Capers said, mentioning the two other sophomores who played often last season. "I felt like we were held back last year due to some of the seniors."
But a change in emphasis, to a more open game, is fun as well, said Capers, who participated in the slam-dunk contest later in the evening.
"We were told we were going to play this way and we are," he said. "I like it a lot."
Bone's first practice took on a classroom-like tone at times, as he and his assistants took pains to point out the way they wanted things done. Some of it was a sea change from the past, some nearly a mirror image.
No matter what, Bone wanted the Cougars going full speed.
"Right now, we could stop them every 10 seconds and I don't want to do that," he said. "There's kind of a fine line between correcting them and also letting them play through some mistakes and then teaching them with video."
As Capers sees it, every step is one that will pay dividends for years to come.
"With a young team like this, you've got to be positive," he said. "You've got to look at it that the next three, four years, all of us are going to be in this program, hopefully. We only got one senior, so basically next year we're just adding one person.
"It's pretty much the same team for the next three years."
• That's it for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow. Until then …