A wish-list for WSU's basketball off season

HERE'S AN OFF-SEASON wish-list for the Cougar basketball team. First and foremost, that Marcus Capers keeps eating or drinking whatever it was he consumed before the Saint Mary's game. That mid-range jumper he showed off against the Gaels can add a whole new dimension to the Cougar offense next season.

He's got the moves to get to the basket and needs to work on finishing once he gets to the rim. But that jump shot he flashed at Saint Mary's – coupled with ever-improving ball handling skills -- could glimpse a very, very bright future for him if he can hit the jumper with consistency.

Moving down the wish-list …

That DeAngelo Casto add 10 to 15 pounds of muscle, fine tune his footwork on the offensive end and practice, practice, practice free throws. We're going to be calling this guy the Beast from the East before too long.

That Klay Thompson watch a ton of film (perhaps starting with the backdoors that Oregon State killed the Cougs with), and develop a consistent baseline three-ball with that beautiful stroke of his.

That Abe Lodwick and Michael Harthun park themselves beyond the arc and take about 10,000 shots each. Some reliable offensive firepower off the bench would be wondrous.

And finally, here's to wishing the annual circus around Tony Bennett's future goes into hibernation. Just because the Cougs won 17 games this season and not 26 isn't likely to keep the suitors away. But we can always hope. And to help, I suggest every Cougar make a donation to the AD's Fund for Basketball Excellence (the Cougs could really use a center-hung scoreboard and more charter airplane flights).

A QUICK LOOK AT Pac-10 statistics is testament to the outrage that Aron Baynes didn't repeat this season as an honorable mention all-conference pick. He was fifth in the league in rebounds, third in blocks, third in field goal percentage, and he averaged more than 12 points per game.

Except for Arizona's Chase Budinger, no one in the Pac-10 has played more minutes this season than Taylor Rochestie. Not counting the Saint Mary's game, T-Ro logged 1,195 minutes (37.3 per game) to Budinger's (1,202, 37.6).

For statistical evidence of why WSU didn't make it to March Madness this season, consider these two tarnished nuggets: The Cougs were dead last in the Pac-10 in steals and ninth in field goal percentage.

THE COUGS' ANNUAL holiday game at Seattle's Key Arena is finally getting a big name opponent. LSU, this year's SEC champ, is coming to the 2009 Cougar Hardwood Classic on Dec. 22. Ticket information will be released this summer. For updated information, visit the official website of the game at www.cougarsinseattle.com.

ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE of the hardcourt I think Cougar freshman Jazmine Perkins was robbed when she wasn't named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Call me homer if you will. And not to take anything away from the winner, USC's Briana Gilbreath. But – but -- Perkins was truly all over the court this season. On defense, she was a stopper. On offense, ranked sixth in the conference in scoring (13.9 points per game), and was the highest-scoring freshman in the league ( as well as No. 6 in the nation). She also ranked third in the Pac-10 in steals (2.1 per game) and 14th in assists (2.6 pg), ranking first and second among conference freshmen, respectively.

Speaking of women's hoops, our executive editor shared a cute story the other day. His 10-year-old son's class was recently working on "Hero Reports." His son chose to write about Jackie Robinson. So at dinner one night, when asked what heroes other kids decided to report on, he starts listing all the usual suspects – except for one. Sandwiched somewhere among Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King was none other than WSU's very own June Daugherty

That's pretty impressive company that Coach June is keeping. As part of their reports, the kids had to write about the biggest regret or mistake their hero made in his or her life. The little girl who chose June is clearly being raised properly. Her answer to that question was succinct: Coaching at the UW.

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