Hoops practice report: Correcting mistakes

PULLMAN – Ken Bone and his staff had one thing on their minds at Thursday's practice: Correcting the mistakes that cost them a win at Gonzaga the night before. The Cougs, who will be back in action at Kansas State on Saturday, went to the proverbial drawing board in their day-after practice and item No. 1 on the to-do list was the ball fake.

The Cougars' lack of ball fakes, Bone told his troops, led to costly turnovers down the stretch that allowed Gonzaga to climb back from a deep deficit and win 74-69.

"We're trying to emphasize that there's time where guys are open and then we have to make an extra effort on the ball fake to try and complete the pass," Bone explained to CF.C after practice.

Bone also said he was looking to see how his team would come out Thursday following the heartbreaking setback in Spokane.

And they gave him the effort he was looking for.

"Practice was good -- I thought our energy was good and I thought our attitude was good," Bone said. "It's tough coming back after not only a loss, but a difficult loss. A game where we had a chance to come out ahead on and then also it's our first loss of the year. As a coach you want to know how your guy's are going to respond but I thought our guys did a nice job."

Defense in the low post was another key focus of Thursday's session, with assistant coach Ben Johnson leading the instruction. Emphasis was on how to properly position yourself against bigger bodies.

Gonzaga's Elias Harris wreaked havoc on the Cougs in the low post, scoring 24 points and nabbing 12 rebounds. Bone said the freshman from Germany is a helluva player, but also explained his concern with way his post guys played him.

"He (Ellis) might be a freshman academically but he's a future NBA basketball player and Robert Sacre was a good presence in the low post as well," Bone said. "We're trying to deal with it, whether it was them or the kid at Eastern Washington, Brandon Moore. We need to get better at working hard around the post and depend on our weak side help."

Post-work on the offensive end was also on Thursday's agenda. Bone worked with Charlie Enquist in moving his feet quicker coming off a pick and roll. Enquist quickly adjusted to the advice from his coach Thursday, and showed improvement in that department for the remainder of practice.

Elsewhere on the court, sophomore guard Marcus Capers stood out Thursday with stellar work on both sides of the ball. Known more as a threat on defense because of his quickness and large wingspan, Capers shot lights out from outside, including several three-pointers.

"He's getting better and better," Bone said of the sophomore from Florida. "He's getting a little more confident all the time in his shot; he's shooting right around 70 percent from the free throw line on the year even though he missed two (against Gonzaga). But he's gaining some confidence in his shooting."

TAKING A PAGE FROM Paul Wulff's approach to getting ready to play in large stadiums, Bone brought out the loud speakers Thursday during 5-on-5 drills to simulate the noise expected at Kansas State this weekend. Bone said the noise forces his team to increase its level of communication.

"We played at Gonzaga last night and I believe they had 6,000 people there and I believe at Kansas State they seat about 12,500. It will be very noisy that's why we had the noise machine in here today and we need to be able to execute things on both ends of the court while communicating and helping each other out. We were trying to simulate that today and it's going to be very similar to the environment we played in last night except they are a little bigger and quicker as a team, so we got our hands full."

During the 5-on-5 drills, Capers continued to connect on his outside shot, while Michael Harthun, and Xavier Thames showed some consistent range as well. Meanwhile star small forward Klay Thompson struggled from the floor with jump shots he normally would make. Thompson went 6-21 last night, and on Thursday his shooting percentage was probably right around the same.

To close out the afternoon, Bone had his players run gassers and then head straight to the free throw line. Bone gave his men 62 seconds to run the length of the court end-to-end five times, then immediately rotate and shoot six free throws.

"You have to make free throws when you're tired," Bone preached to his players. The Cougas make 12 of 20 from the charity against Gonzaga.


• The 6-1 Cougs tip off Saturday at 6 pm Pacific Time against 6-1 Kansas State. The game, which part of the Big 12-Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Will be televised on ESPNu. Kansas State suffered its only loss Nov. 20 against Mississippi. They're led by Jacob Pullenwith 18.1 points and 4.1 assists per game, Denis Clemente (13.9 points and 3.0 assists pg).

• Thompson leads the Cougars with 26.4 points per game. He's also averaging 5 rebounds and 3 assists a game. DeAngelo Casto leads the Cougs on the boards with 6.3 rebounds a game, to go along with his 12.4 ppg. Freshman point guard Reggie Moore leads the team with 3.6 assists a game and is second with 13.0 points a game.

Cougfan Top Stories