Extra time a blessing, curse for WSU coach

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Ken Bone said the adjusted schedule leaves the Cougars with a short preparation time for next week's home games against the Northern California schools. He also reflects on the Oregon schools, Klay Thompson's "struggles", an emerging sophomore and much more.

Pac-10 basketball games on Thursday and Saturday are as traditional as winter rain in the Northwest.

But the schedule will deviate this week with a few Pac-10 contests on Wednesday. Washington State waits until Friday to play at Arizona and then follows with a Sunday game at Arizona State.

Note: The start time for Sunday's game at Arizona State has been moved to 11:30 a.m. PST so that it can be broadcast to a national audience on Fox Sports Net.

Bone said during his Tuesday news conference that he sees some benefits to the schedule shift this week. He said it enables him to push film study back a day to Thursday and instead "focus on our team the last two days."

ONE DETRIMENT TO the schedule, however, the Cougars (11-3 overall, 1-1 Pac-10) return to the regular Thursday/Saturday slate the following week when they host California and Stanford. Bone said that means the Cougs likely will take Monday off, which gives them one day of less preparation.

Because of the adjusted schedule this year, Bone said he has not viewed more than 15 minutes of tape on the Wildcats (7-7, 1-1). He noted that Arizona is similar to his team to some extent because of its youth. Senior guard Nic Wise (15.1 points per game) is the only senior on the roster. But new coach Sean Miller signed a well-regarded freshman class, led by forward Derrick Williams (15.1), who reneged on a verbal commit to USC to sign with Arizona.

WSU only has won twice -- 70-63 in 2005 and 72-66 in '07 -- at the McKale Center since 1984. The Wildcats are 5-2 at home this season, but lost their most recent game at McKale, 99-69, Dec. 28 against Brigham Young.

"I know they got blasted (by) BYU and that was a shock to me," Bone said. "They're quick, athletic, aggressive and play good defense."

THE COUGARS HAVE had more recent ,and overall, success against ASU (10-5, 0-2). It is the only Pac-10 series they lead, 33-32, and they have won six straight against the Sun Devils. But it rarely has been easy. WSU won the last meeting between the schools when Taylor Rochestie hit a long 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 51-49 overtime win in Pullman.

While ASU does not have a dominant player this season, such as guard James Harden who was the third overall selection in the 2009 NBA draft by Oklahoma City, it features junior forward Rihards Kuksiks (11.4) and senior point guard Derek Glasser (11.1). Bone said the Sun Devils are strong defensive and "they do a great job of understanding there roles and playing together as a team."

Cougars sophomore Klay Thompson arguably played his best games against ASU last season, averaging 22.5 points per game. He is coming off a seven-point performance in Saturday's 65-60 win against Oregon State, but is still averaging 24.3 points per game this season.

BONE SAID HE is not worried about Thompson's struggles against the Beavers. He instead praised him for some of the passes he has made in addition to his ability to penetrate and draw fouls this season. Thompson already has attempted 112 free throws after going to the line just 31 times in 2008-09.

"I do like that he's becoming a very well-rounded offensive player," Bone said.

He also was happy with the way his team responded to Thompson's struggles.

"It should give our guys confidence," Bone said. "When those guys go down, there's some teams that fold. I thought our guys handled that situation well. They kept going and playing with confidence."

ONE PLAYER WHO stood out was 6-foot-4 guard Marcus Capers. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds against OSU, his first career double-double. After shooting just 29 percent from the field in 2008-09, Capers nearly has doubled that number (56.7) this season.

"Marcus has done a great job of finding new ways to score," Bone said. "He's good defensively, quick, active and long arms. He's a limited shooter -- I don't think there's any secret there -- but there's a lot (to like) there."

IN ADDITION TO those aspects, there also was the Oregon factor. WSU dropped a controversial, 91-89, double-overtime conference opener against the Ducks.

It appeared that WSU won the game in the first overtime on a finger roll by DeAngelo Casto with 0.3 seconds remaining. But the Cougars were called for a technical foul after the bench players came onto the court with time remaining. Tajuan Porter made both free throws to send the game into the second overtime.

"I'm sure it bothers them just like it bothers me," said Bone, adding that he was not aware about the status of any official protest by WSU. "We moved forward pretty well, though. I was happy with how we bounced back against a good Oregon State team."

  • The Cougars used a 2-3 zone defense against OSU for much of the game, but Bone said that was more out of necessity to preserve energy. The Beavers also shoot 3-pointers poorly. Bone said his team mostly will feature a man-to-man defensive scheme.

  • Bone said redshirt freshman forward James Watson is playing well, but added that he has not forgotten about sophomore center Charlie Enquist, who has not played the last two games. He said Watson has seen more playing time lately because the teams "we've been playing as of late have pretty quick kids."

  • The Cougars' slow start against Oregon was noted by Bone. After defeating Louisiana State 72-70 in overtime Dec. 22 at KeyArena, WSU did not play for nine days. In the future, Bone said he might look to schedule a game shortly after Christmas.

  • Cougfan Top Stories