Washington St Basketball Preview: #141
Washington State Cougars
Overall Rank: #141
Conference Rank: #9 Pacific 10
2008-09: 17-16, 8-10
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Ken Bone (First year at Washington State, 335-167 overall)
Coach Tony Bennett continued the success started by his father at Washington State, but now he has parlayed that success into a job in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It was the Bennetts that turned the Cougars from a perennial cellar dweller in the Pac-10 into a NCAA Tournament team. The team’s recent success has made it possible for this group to continue to be successful even while they have to implement a new system.
Key Losses: C Aron Baynes, F Caleb Forrest, F Daven Harmeling, G Taylor Rochestie
Coach Ken Bone has been very successful at Portland State and Seattle and should pick up right where Coach Bennett left off…with a slightly faster offense; and the recruiting class is a step in that direction. Reggie Moore and Xavier Thames will be the most important new players as the team tries to find a way to replace point guard Taylor Rochestie. Moore and Thames are both players who can get their teammates involved and do a little scoring on their own. Whichever one of them can adjust to life in the Pac-10 the quickest will likely get the starting nod at the beginning of the year. Anthony Brown will give the team another shooter and power forward Brock Motum is full of potential. Add James Watson, who redshirted last season, to the mix and Coach Bone has filled the holes that need to be filled.
Without Rochestie, Klay Thompson is the star of this team. As a freshman, the 6-6 guard tallied 12.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He is a great outside shooter who connected on over 41 percent of his attempts and hit over two per contest. With his size, he can simply shoot over most opposing defenders. Once he gets a little more aggressive getting to the basket, Thompson will be a superstar in the Pac-10. Marcus Capers is his likely partner on the wing. Capers will not score anywhere near as much as Thompson, but he earned nine starts as a freshman and can handle the ball and even hit the glass relatively effectively. With players like Mike Harthun returning, the backcourt should be in great shape if one of the newcomers can run the point.
It is in the frontcourt where there are some major losses. Nikola Koprivica has the ability to defend the four spot, but he would ideally spend most of his time on the wing. Coach Bone would not mind having a player who can handle the ball and shoot the outside shot at the four spot, but the Cougars will suffer on the glass because of it. The only true post player with any amount of experience is DeAngelo Casto. The 6-8 forward had a decent freshman campaign, averaging 4.4 points and 4.0 rebounds while earning two starts. The frontcourt will now be his and he has to develop into a more consistent scorer.
Who to Watch:
Capers, Castom and Thompson were all freshmen last year who played a big role on this team. Those are the players that need to be watched. If they can continue the success of their freshmen campaigns and turn into consistent sophomores, Washington State will be in good hands. Even fellow sophomores like Harthun and Charlie Enquist could play a bigger role this year.
That means this is a young team with a new coach. There is certainly some rebuilding to be done, but the pieces are there for this year to be relatively successful. The Cougars might not make the NIT again, or any other postseason tournament for that matter, but they have a great new coach and a young nucleus of players to build around and will be looking at the NCAA Tournament in the next year or two.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Reggie Moore, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Klay Thompson, Sophomore, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Marcus Capers, Sophomore, Guard, 1.7 points per game
Nikola Koprivica, Senior, Guard, 3.1 points per game
DeAngelo Casto, Sophomore, Forward, 4.4 points per game