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September 23, 2009
Say this for new coach Ken Bone: He won't need to get used to the fall and winter weather in Pullman. Bone already is knowledgeable with the lay of the land in the Pacific Northwest and the Pac-10. He is replacing Tony Bennett, who left for Virginia. Bone has spent nearly his entire coaching career in Washington or Oregon. He was coach at Division II Seattle Pacific, then an assistant to Lorenzo Romar at Washington and most recently coach at Portland State, which he led to the NCAA tournament each of the past two seasons. Bone inherits what he says in the youngest team he has coached. With the departure of Taylor Rochestie, Aron Baynes and Daven Harmeling, Bone will be without the last remnants of the teams that helped lift Washington State out of obscurity and make the Cougars a Pac-10 contender. In their place, Bone will rebuild around sophomores Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto.
Forward DeAngelo Casto came on strong during the final month of the 2008-09 season.
Casto, who is 6 feet 8, improved drastically in the final months of the season. He was fourth in the Pac-10 in blocks (39) last season and is the leading returning shot blocker in the league. Australian freshman Brock Motum will have to play immediately to take over for Baynes, a big body who had some offensive skills. Sophomore Charlie Enquist rarely played last season, but offseason improvement should lead to a lot more minutes this season.
Thompson, the son of former longtime NBA player Mychal Thompson, was one of the top freshmen in the Pac-10 last season. He's an excellent shooter who averaged 12.5 points and shot 41.2 percent from behind the 3-point line. He should flourish in Bone's up-tempo system. Sophomore Marcus Capers will get first crack at point guard, but three-star freshmen Reggie Moore and Xavier Thames signed late in the process and also will get a shot at the position. Capers is a good athlete who must become a more efficient shooter; he is a good passer, though, and Bone is high on his defensive potential. Part-time starter Nikola Koprivica will be the team's only senior. He's another good distributor but must improve his 3-point accuracy. Sophomore Mike Harthun and freshman Anthony Brown also should be in the mix for a team that has a deep backcourt but an iffy frontcourt.
Bone's first team at Washington State will be young, but he proved he can succeed with a rebuilding project at Portland State. He will have some quality building blocks in Thompson and Casto.
Preseason rankings were compiled by basketball writers David Fox, Mike Huguenin, Jason King and Steve Megargee.