More PT in store for Casto, Lodwick, Harthun?

LINEUP CHANGES AND playing time alterations are possibilities coach Tony Bennett is pondering in his search for more scoring by his Washington State men's basketball team. And that could mean good news for young understudies DeAngelo Casto, Abe Lodwick and Michael Harthun.

Defensively stout – WSU is No. 1 in the nation in points allowed with its 50.8 average – and offensively challenged, the Cougars have struggled to score more than 50 points in the four losses they have suffered in their past six games.

The Cougs' scoring average of 59.2 ranks last in the Pac-10 Conference with the high-powered California Bears (78.3) coming to Pullman for a Thursday night game.< br>
"We just have to keep finding ways," Bennett said during his Tuesday teleconference.

And two of the ways might be changing the starting lineup and additional playing time for reserves.

"Not just stand pat but try some different things," Bennett said. "Maybe look at some different personnel. Maybe some guys who can give us a spark off the bench. Some guys are playing a lot of minutes. Maybe I've got to look at some longer rests for certain players."

Among those under scrutiny is Daven Harmeling. The senior forward has attempted only one shot during a combined 38 minutes of playing time in the Cougars' losses to LSU and Washington.

"We need some production from that spot," Bennett said. "It's not a lack of effort on his part, but he certainly has to be concentrating on that (getting shots) when he's out there."

Reserves mentioned by Bennett as possibly being worthy of more playing time are freshmen DeAngelo Casto, Abe Lodwick and Michael Harthun. Casto is averaging 15.5 minutes; Lodwick and Harthun at 7.8 and 5.2 respectively.

While much of the attention is being directed at the offense, the Cougars' highly efficient defense cannot be forgotten, Bennett said.

"We've got to figure out ways to be more solid defensively so it holds us in there when we're having (scoring) droughts."

Sure to challenge the Cougar defense on Thursday is Cal guard Jerome Randall, a 5-foot-10 junior who ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring with his 19.5 average. He 26 points and 10 assists in Cal's 81-71 victory over Arizona State.

Bennett said Randall is might even be quicker than Washington freshman Isaiah Thomas, who scored 19 in the Huskies' victory over WSU.

"When you have that kind of quickness and a shot like his … you become very challenging to guard," Bennett said of Randall. "You can't lay off or he'll knock them down. When you get up he's got a lot of quick moves and he'll get by you and get into the lane. He's a complete offensive player."

Mean while, controversial issues raised by "incidents" that occurred at the end of the WSU-UW game on Saturday appear to be history, at least as far as Bennett is concerned. The first involved the Cougars' Caleb Forrest hitting the Huskies' Darnell Gant in the back.

"He lost his head and kind of smacked the guy in the back," Bennett said. "Caleb immediately apologized and after the game he apologized to (UW) coach (Lorenzo) Romar. "Obviously it's something you don't condone and he shouldn't have done."

Not long after the Forrest-Gant incident, Husky guard Justin Dentmon, on an apparent breakaway for a layin, "passed" the ball off the backboard to a trailing Quincy Pondexter, who executed a slam dunk. With the Huskies way ahead, it could have been interpreted as a rub-it-in kind of gesture.

"I was not in any way offended," Bennett said. "They had a break-away and the kid threw it off the glass and Pondexter dunked it. I was just frustrated that we weren't able to match what they threw at us late in the game."

THE COUGARS TIP OFF against Cal on Thursday at 7 pm and on Saturday against Stanford, also at 7 pm. Both games will be in Pullman and the Stanford contest will be televised on FSN.

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