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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Graham Era Begins Saturday
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 10/12/1999
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Oct. 12, 1999

PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Paul Graham chapter of Washington State basketball is about to get underway as six veterans and six newcomers open fall camp with a pair of practices Saturday in the Physical Education Building.

The Cougars' 1999-2000 roster includes six returning lettermen, featuring a trio of sharp-shooting seniors, and six newcomers.

"I am excited for Saturday," said Graham. "I think the players are excited and I hope our fans are excited that there are going to be some changes around here. I just hope they understand that I can't walk on water. But we're going to give them all we've got. "It gets to a point where the preseason gets old, especially for me because I've been waiting for a long time for this day to come," said Graham. "I'm excited. I'm thankful and blessed that I finally got an opportunity to go out and lead a basketball program at this level."

Record-setting three-point shooter Jan-Michael Thomas is the Cougars' top returning player. The 6-0 senior from Inglewood, Calif., netted a school-record 89 three-pointers last season and averaged 14.1 points per game. In 1998-99, Thomas was named to the Pac-10 All-Newcomer team, the NABC District 14 second team and earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors on Dec. 14.

Joining Thomas in the backcourt is fellow senior guard Blake Pengelly. A native of Eugene, Ore., the 5-11 Pengelly needs just 10 assists to become just the fifth player in Cougar history to register 300 career assists. Pengelly averaged 3.7 points and 3.0 assists per game last season. He was also named to the Pac-10 All-Academic second team.

Forward Chris Crosby is the third senior on the 1999-2000 roster. He is just 108 points away from joining the 1,000-point club at WSU. In the off-season, the Littleton, Colo., native added 20 pounds to his frame in hopes of improving his rebounding numbers. Last year, Crosby averaged 13.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, while leading the team with an 84.3 percentage from the free throw line. That was second in the conference and was the fourth-best single season effort in WSU history.

Combined, the three seniors own 344 career three-point baskets, led by Crosby with 141 and followed by Pengelly (114) and Thomas (89). All three rank in WSU's career top 10 in three-point field goals made, while Pengelly and Crosby rank among WSU's most accurate long-range bombers as well.

"The three-point shot has become such a vital part of everybody's offense," said Graham. I think that it's out there and we must find a way to use it to benefit us. I think that Chris Crosby, at his size, can present some problems for match-ups because he's a big guy that can play on the perimeter.

"I think Jan-Michael Thomas has proven he's not only one of the better perimeter shooters in this league but in the United States. We've got to get him and some of the other guys where they can make that three-point shot. We want to use the three-point shot as much as possible and once we get out there and guys prove to us that they can shoot the three-point shot, then they have the green light.

"I think Blake Pengelly can be more of a threat from beyond the three-point line. I think some of the younger players like David Adams and Nick Graham can be good shooters from that area. We will use the three-point shot once we get going and find out who our better three-point shooters are."

Following his first season in the trenches, redshirt junior Eddie Miller, a 6-7 forward from Reseda, Calif., is ready to improve on his solid numbers of 1998-99 (10.9 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game) that earned him a Pac-10 All-Newcomer honorable mention nod. He is WSU's top returning rebounder and hit 53.6 percent from the field last season.

Ace defender Mike Bush, from Riverside, Calif., returns for his sophomore season as well. The 6-6 guard was assigned to guard the opponent's top player and led WSU with 47 steals as a freshman. Bush averaged 6.6 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Junior guard Cedric Clark also returns to the backcourt.

With only six returning lettermen, odds are that the six newcomers will see plenty of action this season. One player who figures to play an immediate roll is junior Tyrone Evans. The 6-6, 227-lbs. transfer from Garden City College in Kansas gives the Cougars what they lacked last season -- a proven rebounder. Evans averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game last year for Garden City.

Also expecting to see action in the frontcourt are freshmen Milton Riley and Bryan Whitehead. Riley, from Gardena, Calif., is coming off a redshirt season that saw him add 20 pounds to his frame. He is one of the most athletic players on the team. Whitehead comes to WSU out of Washington's Mount Vernon High School, which is the same program that produced former Coug and current NBAer Mark Hendrickson. The 6-8 Whitehead did not have flashy numbers as a prep (11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds per game), but was one of the key reasons Mount Vernon went 28-1 and finished fourth in the state.

Three more newcomers, David Adams, Nick Graham and Mike Malloy, round out the backcourt. A member of the Associated Press' all-state first team, Adams, from Tacoma, led his Lincoln High squad to a fourth-place state finish. Adams averaged 22.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while connecting on 43 percent of his three-point attempts.

Graham, the son of head coach Paul Graham, was the starting point guard for Stillwater High and led the team to within one game of the state tournament. He averaged 15 points and five assists per game. Malloy comes to WSU as an invited walk-on out of the basketball factory that is University of San Diego High. Malloy was rated among the top 20 guards on the West Coast as a junior and averaged 20.9 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game last year.

One more player who will be on the WSU bench this season is 6-10 center "J" Locklier. A native of Rock Hill, S.C., Locklier transferred in from Miami, Ohio, and must sit out the 1999-2000 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

More Quotes From Head Coach Paul Graham

General Comments

"From what I can ascertain, our guys are really working hard in their preseason conditioning. Since I've come aboard in March, the thing that we've tried to do first and foremost is change their attitude. I think it has really changed. They are buying into what we would like for them to do -- to continue to work hard on the court and off the court and as long as they do that, we just want them to be the best that God meant for them to be."

"Looking at our players, I think we do have some quickness, we may have a shortcoming with size, but we don't worry about things we have no control over. I just want our players to go out and be as competitive as they can be with what we have to work with. What we have to do as a coaching staff is devise a way that's disciplined to give us the best chance to be successful."

"Being that we're a little short-handed with size, I think we have to speed the game up some. But at the same time, I think we must control the game. That might sound like a contradictory statement, but we can't go out and play "40 minutes of hell" like they do at Arkansas. "

"We've got to accentuate our talents. We've got a lot of slashers, a lot of drivers, a lot of guys that can run. I think there's a misconception wherein you have to have speedsters or track stars to play up-tempo. I want us to be quick, but I don't want us to be in a hurry, as John Wooden used to put it."

On Depth

"Depth is a problem for every team. You may have depth, but you don't want your number one guy getting into foul trouble. Everybody makes a big issue about having depth, but you'd still rather have your number one guy in there than your number three guy. So that is going to be a problem, being that we want to keep our best players on the floor at all times."

"Depth is a problem, size is a problem, but I don't want to make a big deal out of what I can't control. We don't have a lot of depth, we don't have a lot of size. We already know that so let's move on."

On the Pac-10

"The Pac-10 is a great league. It's a league of great coaches. I just left a league of great coaches. The Pac-10 is a high profile league. Everybody is good in the league. It's a league that is not top-heavy, it's good from top to bottom. Unfortunately, we're at the bottom."

"All the teams are good with great coaches. That's the reason this league is so good -- it has great coaches. When you look at the other high-power leagues -- the Big 12 the ACC, the Big Ten, the SEC -- all of them have great schools and very good coaches. That gives you great basketball programs."

On Preseason Conditioning

"I wanted our preseason conditioning to be the toughest that our players have ever encountered because we have to get our guys mentally, physically and spiritually tough to go out and go to war. That's how I consider going to play Arizona State or going to play UCLA, Stanford or Arizona."

"It's a war and we're getting ready to go to war. When you go to war, sometimes you're a little short-handed, but you've got to fight to survive. That's our approach. We're going to war. We know we have some shortcomings, but we're not going to let that affect how we defend ourselves."

"Therefore, you have to train like you're in the Army. You're training to go to war. That's the mentality that I want our players to have. We're training to go to war in order to survive. I want them to be able to do things that they've never been able to do before, things that they think they can't do, and believe in themselves and the ability that God blessed them with to go out and defend themselves. It's just as much mental as it is physical. I don't want it to be easy because survival is not going to be easy."

On the First Day of Practice

"Coach Sutton told me that I can't get everything in on one day. As a staff, we've got to figure out where we want to go and how we're going to get there with what we have to work with. I can't rush out there on October 16 and put in a zone offense and a zone defense and all these things, you can't do it. That's what happens to young coaches."

"Coach Sutton lets you coach and he listens to his assistants. What I learned from him is that you've got to be patient and have an organized system for what you're trying to do."

- GO COUGS -

Washington State Cougars Men's Basketball
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