Nov. 6, 2001
PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State men's basketball team open its exhibition season Wednesday at 7 p.m. when it hosts the Brisbane Capitals, a touring team from Australia.
WSU will be the fifth opponent in a seven-game tour for the Capitals, who lost to Washington, Portland and Portland State and play at Oregon tonight.
After posting just six wins in Graham's first season, WSU doubled its win total to 12 last season. The Cougars placed sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference, their best finish in six years. The six-win improvement from the previous season was the best by a Cougar team in nine years.
The Cougars also took advantage of their Friel Court home, winning 10 games, the most by a WSU team in six years.
The strength of this year's Cougar team will be its experience. The returning players combined for 63 starts last season and all four members of the quintet that comprised the starting lineup at the end of the season are back.
Senior center J Locklier (Rock Hill, S.C.) is the only Cougar who started all 28 games in 2001. He averaged 9.5 points and a team-leading 6.1 rebounds per contest last season and earned the Pac-10 Conference Newcomer of the Year award.
The other senior returning starter is Bush at the shooting guard position. Bush missed the first part of last season because of academic troubles, but returned to lead WSU with 15.9 points per game and earned All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention honors. Bush will not be in action Wednesday because he is a starting wide receiver on the Cougar football team.
Rounding out the returning starters are junior power forward Milton Riley (Gardena, Calif.) and sophomore point guard Moore.
Riley came on strong late last season, averaged 5.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and led the Cougars with just under a block per game.
Moore finished second on the team with 10.4 points per game and led WSU with 3.6 assists to go along with 3.6 rebounds per contest. His efforts earned him a place on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
Other returnees include senior Justin Murray (Tacoma) juniors McNair and Graham, and sophomore Harris.
McNair had the best season of the quartet last year as he led WSU with 44 three-pointers and shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc
Nick Graham appeared in 12 games last season off the bench. His best game came against archrival Washington in Pullman when he scored three points and grabbed a career-high three rebounds to help WSU knock off the Huskies. Graham will sit out Wednesday with a severely sprained right ankle.
Murray came off the bench and played in 10 games last season. He scored just nine points during the year, but was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.
Harris was on the squad last year and appeared in only one game. He showed promise, recording an assist, a rebound and a steal in two minutes of action at Utah.
WSU will have six new faces this season to go along with its wealth of experience. Freshmen Thomas Kelati (Walla Walla) and Shami Gill (Mission, British Columbia) and juniors Cedrick Hughey (Waldo, Ark.), Justin Lyman (Missouri City, Texas) and Pawel Stasiak (Warsaw, Poland) make up the Cougar recruiting class. Randy Green (Renton), a walk-on from Rainier Beach will provide depth at the point guard position.
Kelati, a guard/forward, was an early signee after averaging nine and half points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks as a prep junior.
Gill, a forward, averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds at Philip Pocock High School in Toronto, Ontario last season, and was tabbed at the number one senior big man by Hoops Canada. He is the first Canadian to join the Cougar program since Brent Watson in the 1963-64 season.
Hughey averaged 13 points and six rebounds at Westark College last season and earned all-conference and all-region honors.
Lyman redshirted last year at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas and comes to WSU with two years of eligibility remaining. As a sophomore, he averaged 21 points and shot 44 percent from three-point range.
Stasiak, a transfer from Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kan., is the first Polish player in WSU history.