Cougar Hoops Notebook: Lessons from Moore

PULLMAN -- Ken Bone is a soft-spoken man with a wit as dry as the Sahara. The Washington State basketball coach can slip a wry comment past an unsuspecting listener as quickly as Klay Thompson can launch a 3-pointer over a flat-footed defender.

When Bone wants to make a point, however, he can be as subtle as a Marcus Capers slam dunk. Bone provided an example Saturday night after Reggie Moore took a charge in the final minute to help the Cougars down Oregon State 65-60.

"I'm hoping Klay saw it, because we need Klay to get better at taking some charges," Bone said.

Thompson, no dummy, is certain to get the message.

It often gets lost amidst all his scoring feats, but Thompson plays excellent defense at times, and he's also a fine playmaker. Thompson leads the Cougars in scoring (24.3 points per game) and steals (1.8) and ranks second in rebounds (4.8) and assists (2.9).

On Saturday, however, the sophomore guard fouled out in the last five minutes with just seven points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field (1 for 4 on 3-pointers) and 2-for-4 shooting at the free-throw line.

"He was struggling the whole game," Capers noted.

Thompson, who started the day as the NCAA Division I scoring leader at 25.3, failed to lead the Cougars in scoring for the first time this season (Nikola Koprivica matched Thompson's 23 points against Portland State). That's not all bad, Bone said.

"I was very pleased that we were able to win on a night when we did not convert at the line (16 of 29) and Klay Thompson did not have one of his better games," Bone said. "That shows we're becoming a better team."

Bone and Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said they were impressed with the defense on Thompson. OSU guard Calvin Haynes said the Beavers knew how to tame Thompson with their 2-3 zone.

"If he has the ball in his right hand, you know he's going to drive all the way to the basket," Haynes said. "If he has it in his left hand, you know he wants to pull up and shoot."

MOORE, THE FRESHMAN LURED by Bone out of a New Hampshire prep school (via Seattle's O'Dea and Rainier Beach high schools) after a national recruiting battle, continues to establish himself as one of the top point guards on the West Coast.

"Reggie is just a tough, competitive kid," Bone said. "Even though he wasn't making free throws, he just does other things to win games."

Moore came into the game leading the Cougars in free-throw shooting at 83.8 percent, but he went 2 for 7 against Oregon State.

"I was shooting like Shaq," joked Moore, referring to notoriously bad NBA free-throw shooter Shaquille O'Neal.

Moore made up for his free-throw mishaps by scoring a season-high 19 points. Also, he drew the charge from Haynes with the Cougars leading by two with 17 seconds to go.

"You've got to make those type of sacrifices for your team if you want to be a great team," Moore said.

Moore, often the smallest player on the floor at (a listed) 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds, went flying when he stepped in front of a driving Haynes in the lane. Haynes said Moore didn't have his feet set.

"I don't really agree with that call," Haynes said.

Care to comment, Reggie?

"Uh, hey, the ref said I got there, so I got there," Moore said.

REDSHIRT COUGAR FRESHMAN James Watson, a springy forward-post player out of Oklahoma, scored a season-high seven points in just 13 minutes VS. OSU. He also drew two charges.

"James Watson came off the bench and gave us a great lift," Capers said.

"James is doing a better job all the time," Bone said. "He's just so long and active that has a presence at both ends of the court, especially on that defensive job. He does a really good job defensively."

CAPERS, A 6-4 GUARD WITH great wingspan, credited WSU's 2-3 zone defense with part of the reason for his career-high 10 rebounds against the Beavs.

"Coach, he emphasized before the game that the guards needed to rebound because we weren't helping out the post players," Capers said.

Capers said the fact that Haynes is Oregon State's only reliable scoring threat from the perimeter made it easier for the Cougars to play zone most of the game instead of their usual man-to-man defense.

BONE CONTINUES TO PRAISE Koprivica, WSU's lone upperclassman, for his all-around play. Bone starts sophomore Abe Lodwick ahead of the senior Koprivica at the quasi-power forward position, even though a) Koprivica gets more overall minutes and b) Lodwick has gone scoreless in 34 minutes the past three games.

Koprivica doesn't seem too concerned about not starting. He probably gained some perspective on life when he was forced to spend most of two months living in an underground bomb shelter with his family when NATO forces bombed his native Belgrade, Serbia, during the Kosovo War in 1999.

"It's sad and scary when you feel the ground under you shaking," Koprivica said.

"You can hear bombs coming closer and closer. Not a pleasant feeling.

"Even today, when I hear in the movies sirens that announce air strikes and all that, I get chills and I just don't feel comfortable."

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Bone, 11-3 in his first year at Washington State, earned praise from longtime Oregon coach Ernie Kent following the Ducks' double-overtime win Thursday in Pullman. "What a great job he's done," Kent said. "He's changed their style of play (more up-tempo on offense). They're every bit as good as their record."

  • In what perhaps is a first in WSU hoops history, The Sporting News' college basketball section last week included two -- yes, 2 -- photos of the Cougs. Both were of Klay Thompson. One accompanied a feature story on the sophomore sharpshooter and the other was part of a conference-by-conference breakdown in which WSU was dubbed the Pac-10's most surprising team and Thompson anointed the league's MVP thus far.

  • According to unofficial statistics compiled by ESPN, the Cougars are tied with Santa Clara for second in the nation in free-throw attempts (296). Wyoming leads with 336. The Cougars also came into Saturday's games leading the Pac-10 in shooting percentage from the field (49.1), 3-point accuracy (40.3) and the free-throw line (74.3). The Cougars led the Pac-10 in free-throw percentage (76.9) last year, but the 2001-02 Oregon Ducks were the last team to finish on top of the Pac-10 in all three shooting percentages.

  • The Cougars hit the road this week. They'll be at Arizona on Friday for a 5:30 pm PT tip and then at Arizona State on Sunday for a 12:30 pm PT tilt. Both games will be televised on FSN-NW. Arizona is 7-7 overall and 1-1 in conference play while ASU is 10-5 overall but 0-2 in the Pac-10 after being swept by the LA schools.

  • WSU's women's team is off to a rough Pac-10 start, dropping a pair to the Oregon schools over the weekend but the loss to the Ducks was encouraging. The Cougs scored a whopping 92 points with April Cook and KiKi Moore each pouring in 24. Moore, a freshman, is having a head-turning rookie season. She leads the Cougars in scoring, assists and steals and is fourth in rebounding.

  • WSU athletic director Jim Sterk has been elected to the Western Washington University Athletics Hall of Fame. Sterk, a 1980 WWU graduate, earned four letters in football and one in basketball for the Vikings. He posted a school-record 164 tackles in 1977.


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