Motum has hot hand; Bone wants intensity

PULLMAN -- Brock Motum is doing what he does best: Catching the ball and shooting it without over thinking matters. In 17 outstanding minutes last Saturday against Arizona he offered up a glimpse of his potential, and this week in practice the momentum was still there. Head coach Ken Bone says the freshman's confidence is rising.

In 5-on-5 drills at the end of practice Tuesday he connected on 4-of-5 field goals, including two from downtown. He was also smart with the ball, firing a great feed to DeAngelo Casto who finished with a two-handed slam. Brock Motum's work had followed a regular practice session in which his stroke was on throughout.

"He's doing a good job," Bone said. "He's a freshman who hasn't played a lot of minutes so far so it was nice to see him get an opportunity (against Arizona) and make the most of it. He's playing with a lot of confidence and that's probably why he's playing better basketball. He's catching and shooting without thinking of it, he's a good shooter."

Motum's minutes against the Wildcats mostly came as a result of Abe Lodwick being under the weather and sitting out the game. But with the growing confidence and solid execution on the floor he could wind up being a prime time contributor as the Cougs head into the stretch run of the regular season.

That stretch begins tonight at Stanford (7 pm tip off, no TV) and continues at league-leading Cal on Saturday (1 pm start, FSN TV). The Cougs will return home for three straight – against the L.A. schools and Washington – before heading to the Willamette Valley for two to close things out prior to the Pac-10 Tournament.

The Cougs are 15-8 overall and 5-6 in conference play, one game out of second.

DEFENSE WAS THE BIG focus for the Cougs at practice on Tuesday. Bone wasn't pleased with the results. He was constantly stopping play due to lack of execution by the youngsters. He told CF.C afterward that the team didn't come out with the urgency he expects.

"Every day we want to bring it to the floor and come out with some intensity," Bone said. "But I felt like today at times we just kind of went through the motions and we're not very good when we go through the motions. We have a hard enough time being successful when we're playing on all cylinders and playing good basketball because we're young and we play in a good league. We can't afford to have lapses where were going half speed or three-quarters speed, we need to play full speed at all times."

DeAngelo Casto echoed those comments.

"I think we practiced hard, but we had some mental lapses at times," he said. "That's going to happen when players get fatigued but coaches are never going to let you slide for missing a free throw. He's trying to get on us because it's getting down to that point where there are only 7-8 games left and you have to get them all. The level of intensity at practice has to go up.

"If I'm not mistaken it's only two wins from first to ninth, so if you can go and get a road win or two you're well off. That's what it's about especially in these last couple of games because you want to be in a good spot to win the Pac-10."

NOTABLE: With Charlie Enquist hobbled by ankle and unlikely to play tonight, 6-10 freshman Steven Bjornstad saw some extra time banging with bodies in the paint on Tuesday. Bjornstad played three minutes against Arizona and blocked a shot. He also was hard at work with assistant coach Ben Johnson on improving both his offensive and defensive mechanics …. Sophomore Klay Thompson looked sharp Tuesday, consistently knocking down jumpers.

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