Old Coug Norris has advice for new Coug Canty

BRANDON GIBSON and Ryan Leaf tried it but hung up their hightops before getting into a game. Mel Hein, Clarence Zimmerman and Tuffy Ellingsen, hall of famers all, dabbled to the collective tune of 38 games and 97 points. Dale Gentry, Frank Mataya and Kitrick Taylor turned in some solid minutes but nothing spectacular.

Dale Ford, a three-sport wonder, averaged a modest 4.3 rebounds and 6.1 points in the 66 games he played for the Cougar basketball team in between turns as a Cougar quarterback and All-American outfielder for Bobo Brayton.

Even Mike Bush, who in the span of one calendar year was named all-Pac-10 honorable mention in basketball and football, overlapped the two in just one of his five years in Pullman.

No doubt about it, playing both football and basketball at the major-college level is not for the faint of heart.

Just ask Bud Norris.

At WSU in the 1960s, he was a two-way starter for the Cougars in football for three seasons, and in basketball he started for two full seasons plus three games of his senior year before a knee injury from football flared up at Nebraska and shelved him for the rest of the campaign.

"At that age you've got a lot of gas in the tank," he told Cougfan.com this week in a telephone interview from his home in Mount Vernon. "That's why I came to WSU -- Coach (Jim) Sutherland and Coach (Marv) Harshman said I could do both.

"But it's harder today to do that because there's so much off-season emphasis on weight training and strength exercises and you might think you're missing something by playing the other sport," he says. "I also think the basketball schedules today make it harder from an academic standpoint, because the games are on Thursdays and Saturdays. That's an extra day of missed classes every road trip from when I played. Our games were Fridays and Saturdays."

NOW COMES Jalen Canty, one of the most intriguing members of Mike Leach's new recruiting class. He stands 6-8, weighs 270 pounds -- and plans to play both football and basketball at WSU.

Asked yesterday during a chat room session with Cougfan.com subscribers to name the best athlete in WSU's new class, recruiting coordinator Dave Emerick said, "... there are a bunch of good ones but it would be hard not to mention Jalen Canty. A man of his size capable of moving the way he does is hard to find!"

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In the Scout.com databases, Canty is rated 3 stars in both football (defensive end) and basketball (power forward). That's a truly rare type of double-double.

Canty played just one season of football, this past one, and earned league lineman of the year honors for his work on both sides of the ball. He led the state of California in sacks, with 22.

His hoops resume is longer. Canty played three seasons on a premier AAU traveling team, and last prep basketball season he averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game, helping earn him scholarship offers from Washington, Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico, Santa Clara and others.

He told CF.C a week ago that he's committed to playing both sports at WSU and received the blessing of Leach and Ken Bone to do so.

"If he likes both, I would go for it if I was him," Norris said. "He'll get to build relationships with another group of guys and he'll stay in really good shape because in basketball you're running constantly."

"I always led the basketball team in fouls," Norris recalls with a chuckle. "I was used to running into people -- I didn't even think about the incidental contact (on a basketball court)."

Joking aside, he said the control that basketball requires -- physically and emotionally -- will reap benefits for Canty on the football field.

"If you want to play at the next (professional) level, either way -- a basketball player with a football background or a football player with a basketball background -- you're going to develop extra skills by playing both in college. I think my basketball experience weighed into my (football) draftability -- they knew I was a real athlete."

Norris was drafted in the sixth round by the Miami Dolphins in 1967 and spent one season with them on injured reserve.

"Coming out of high school, I wasn't sure which sport was mine," Norris said. "If he likes both, he should play both."

Some highlights that speak to Canty's prowess on the hardcourt:




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