Thompson's confounding woes adding up

PULLMAN -- Imagine a bizarre, make-believe world in which Jay Leno can't tell jokes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. can't drive in circles and Klay Thompson can't shoot a basketball. Arguably, the latter development would be the most shocking.

After all, Leno's last TV gig drew lower ratings than Senate roll call on C-SPAN, and when's the last time Junior won anything?

For all of you who ever dreamed of playing basketball like Klay Thompson … well, now you can. His sweet jumper has been reduced to an ugly clanker.

How can this be? Wasn't it just a month or two ago when Thompson was leading the nation in scoring and flirting with the idea of leaving early for the NBA?

Nowadays, Thompson's idea of the NBA is No Baskets in Awhile.

I'm no shot doctor but I am reasonably certain there's nothing wrong with Thompson's shot that a good shrink can't fix. In other words, it is Thompson's head that needs adjusting, not his shooting form.


IT IS LITTLE wonder that Thompson is having trouble shooting the ball. After all, it's obvious to all that the sophomore guard is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Saturday night at Friel Court, Thompson's shoulders sagged. He pleaded with officials. He frowned. He moped. He threw his arms up in frustration. He let his personal trials and tribulations override the single most important reason he was on the court -- to do everything in his power to help Washington State defeat Washington.

This is not to imply that Thompson was not trying his best. He was. It's just that he was not in a state of mind where it was humanly possible for him to perform his best, or anywhere close to it.

Great shooters -- and Thompson will be one again, that is a certainty -- can and must offset the inevitable poor shooting night by playing great defense. Or making great passes. Or setting great screens.

Right now, the best thing Thompson can do to clear his head and cure his game is get out of town. Conveniently enough, the Cougars are doing just that, heading to the Oregon schools this week and the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles next week.

Thompson has experienced his share of rough outings on the road -- remember 2 for 15 at Washington? -- but few players of his caliber have ever suffered through as miserable a homestand as the one Thompson just endured.

Would you believe that Thompson -- one of 30 players tabbed at midseason as national player of the year candidates -- had more turnovers (17) than points (15) in the three games? And that he led the Cougars in turnovers each game, but never scored more than eight points? And that he made only 4 of 35 shots (11 percent), including 3 of 16 (19 percent) from 3-point range?


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  • IT CANNOT HELP a devoutly somber, private and intense young man like Thompson that a few Cougar "fans" have let loose with occasional boos at home games. Is it just me, or are there others out there who forever find it baffling that "fans" -- who, theoretically, want their team to do well -- opt to boo one of their own? Essentially, these "fans" are sabotaging their own wishes and desires.

    Supporters and non-supporters aside, it is not too late for Thompson to salvage what started out as a season for the ages. He is an immensely talented player who needs to toughen up mentally so he can take himself, and his team, to the next level.

    The odds of the Cougars succeeding without major contributions from Thompson are freakishly long. Like, say, the odds on Thompson missing 31 of 35 shots.

  • Cougar fans are invited to a free gathering this Wednesday (March 3) to meet new Washington State athletic director Bill Moos. The gathering runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Northern Quest Casino in Spokane. Light appetizers will be served, and there will be a no host bar. To attend, RSVP at or call 509-358-7541.

  • The Cougars (16-12, 6-10 Pac-10) are tied for ninth with Oregon (14-14, 6-10), half a game behind Stanford (13-16, 7-10) and one game behind Oregon State (13-15, 7-9). USC, Arizona and UCLA are 8-8 in the Pac-10. USC will not play in the Pac-10 Tournament as part of self-imposed sanctions for NCAA improprieties.

  • The bottom two finishers play the only first-day game at the Pac-10 tourney March 10. The winner of that game would have to win four times in four days to claim the title and the league's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

  • WSU's last two regular season games, road contests at Oregon State (Thurs., 7 p.m.) and at Oregon (Sat., 5 p.m.) will not be televised in Washington.

  • WSU freshman reserve James Watson is 7 for 23 at the free-throw line (30 percent).

  • Barring a post-season game, Saturday's 5 p.m. game at Oregon will be the last at Oregon's McArthur Court. Speculation is rampant that the game could also be the last for longtime Ducks coach Ernie Kent. Athletic director Mike Bellotti has been noncommittal on Kent's future.

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