Casto dominates in series of scrimmages

PULLMAN – DeAngelo Casto is looking good. If there are lingering effects from the knee injury the sophomore Cougar post man suffered over the summer they weren't apparent in Washington State's series of scrimmages Wednesday. Casto dominated in the low post and showed off some nifty new moves. And that was just the start of an illuminating day on the crimson hardwood.

Throughout Wednesday's proceedings, the 6-8 Casto would get the ball down low, flash a few moves and secure the lay-up, or earn a trip to the free throw line. Casto's excellent day also extended to the charity stripe, where he looked much smoother than a year ago when he shot 64 percent from the line. He nailed four straight Wednesday.

Casto is the Cougars' main man in the middle, but he won't be the only guy down low. Coming off the bench behind him will be 6-10 Charlie Enquist and 6-8 James Watson. Head coach Ken Bone said Enquist provides court smarts that make him well suited for certain offensive situations.

Although Watson saw less scrimmage time than Casto and Enquist, he provided one of the highlights of the day when he out-jumped freshman Steven Bjornstad off a Marcus Capers missed shot and threw down a two-handed slam.

"James is really bouncy and athletic and he does a good job on the glass," Bone said. "At times he shows good range."

Last week, Bone said three of his likely starters for the season opener would be Casto at the 5, Reggie Moore at the 1 and Klay Thompson at the 3. Competition at the shooting guard and power forward spots remains wide open. Bone said no one has separated from the pack to earn the starting spot at either position.

"Part of practice, certain guys look better than others, but then by the end of practice it's balanced out again. But they're all doing some good things," Bone said. "I wish I kind of knew who was going to start, but heck we will sit in the office as a staff and each one of us will have a different opinion on three different guys."

The Cougs kick off the season Nov. 9 in an exhibition against Lewis-Clark State and then open the regular campaign Nov. 13 vs. Mississippi Valley State. Both contests will be in Pullman.

Two players fighting for the starting nod at the 2 -- Michael Harthun and Capers -– had solid scrimmages Wednesday. In one session, Harthun drilled 3-of-3 from outside. Meanwhile, Capers showcased his defensive skills, using his considerable wingspan to disruptive advantage. On one play, a turnaround jumper by Thompson, Capers soared through the air for the block. A few plays later he defleced a Thompson pass intended for Enquist and then secured the steal.

At the 4 spot, Abe Lodwick turned in a stellar day on offense, consistently shooting lights out. On several plays, Moore would penetrate the lane, opening up Lodwick downtown, and then kick the ball out to Lodwick for three.

Regardless of who starts to open the season, Bone said he plans to use a 9-to-10 player rotation in non-conference games to get a better read of how his players can compete. "We have a lot of guys that I want to still give the opportunity to show what they can do in a game situation," Bone said. "There's a number of times where kids are doing a good job during practice but then the lights come on in the bigger stage and they have a hard time performing so I'm anxious to see how they do during game."

The Cougars feature five true freshmen. Bone said he hasn't decided if he'll redshirt any of them.

NOTABLE NOTES:

• For much of the scrimmage time Wednesday, the crimson squad consisted of Casto at the 5, Moore at the point, Capers at the 2, Harthun at the 3 and Lodwick at the 4. The white team largely consisted of Xavier Thames at the point, Nikola Koprivica at the 2, Thompson at the 3, Brock Motum at the 4, and Enquist at the 5.

• Bone brought in three real officials to ref the scrimmages.

• Long known as a coach adept at teaching, Bone stopped scrimmage play numerous times to instruct his youngsters. Ball movement was one of his particular points of focus.

• During the last 10 minutes of practice, the three refs went over some of the new rules that will be implemented this season. Among them are: 1) Any defender directly underneath the basket inside of the cylinder, who tries to take a charge, will be called for a blocking foul; 2) If a player gets injured during a game and can't take a free throw attempt, the opposing team's coach will choose one of the remaining 4 players on the floor to take the shot; 3) If a dribbler is tripped, even if contact is accidental, a foul will be called; 4) Sportsmanship rules, and 3-seconds in the key will be a major focus for officials in the 2009-10 season.

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