It’s time for Cougar Hoops. Well, almost time.
Washington State men’s basketball played host to Central Washington Friday night at Beasley Coliseum in an exhibition game to prepare for the regular season schedule.
It took a few minutes to adjust to playing an opponent instead of practicing against teammates. Once WSU settled down the difference between a Division I and Division II program became apparent. The Cougars won handily by a final of 93-56.
When Coach Ken Bone put guys who will likely be the main rotation once the season gets rolling, the Cougs shot the ball effectively.
In the opening 20-minutes of play, the young men in crimson and gray uniforms converted 57.1% of their field goals including a decent 5 of 12, or 41.7% from beyond the arc.
One of the changes you can expect to see from WSU this year is the way they will play defense. Coach Bone plans to pressure opponents full court much of the time. One benefit should be challenging teams to get the offense set up in a timely fashion.
Friday night the Cougar defense was very effective, holding the Wildcats to just 33% shooting. WSU forced CWU into 14 turnovers coupled with 6 steals.
Looking at the probable starting unit for Washington State, everyone was efficient on offense. Senior D.J. Shelton led all scorers with 17-points on 5-7 shooting. DJ was a perfect 3-3 from 3-point range. Nearly matching Shelton, junior Dexter Kernich-Drew contributed 16-points. Each of Coach Bone’s starters finished in double-digits.
One of the questions Coach Bone has to find an answer to is how will WSU replace the offense of two-time Pac-12 scoring leader Brock Motum. Shelton may be a part of the answer. An unlikely contributor to putting points up on the scoreboard may be true freshman Josh Hawkinson. Hawkinson only played 10-minutes in his debut for Washington State, but he made an impression by filling up the stat sheet with 8-rebounds, 6-points, 3-assists and a blocked shot. Nice debut performance for the 6-10, 245 student-athlete from Shorewood HS in Shoreline, WA.
Coach Bone and his staff now have a first impression of what this team can do and what they need to work on.
Washington State will begin their regular season schedule next Friday night when they host Cal State Bakersfield on Friel Court at 7:30pm. Fans everywhere will get a chance to see their team in action as the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- Two other players made their debut for WSU. Freshman Que Johnson finally returned to competitive play after nearly two years off. Johnson played 19-minutes scoring 7-points. Another true freshman, Ike Iroegbu scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
- This season the Cougars and Wildcats met in exhibition action, but the two teams have met during the regular season 26 times. WSU leads the all-time series, 23-3, with the last meeting coming Nov. 16, 1998. The first meeting came during the 1927-28 season, as the two teams played consistently through 1952. After 42 years without playing each other, the Cougars and Wildcats faced each other once again, Dec. 12, 1994.
- Central Washington was paced by Mark McLaughlin’s 15 points, while J.B. Pillard led the team on the boards with 6 rebounds.