Oct. 17, 2008
PULLMAN, Wash. - The Washington State University men's basketball team opened up the 2008-09 season with its first official practice Friday evening. Along with the start of practice, www.wsucougars.com is unveiling the Men's Basketball Blog. Below is the first entry.
Welcome Cougar Fans!
With the start of the 2008-09 season comes the brand new Cougar Men's Basketball Blog. The blog will be another outlet for the WSU faithful to try and get your fill of hoops this season. It will not replace any of the normal web content such as weekly notes or releases, but rather give a behind-the-scenes look at Cougar Basketball with photo galleries, practice notes and updates you can't get anywhere else. In addition we will bring you a look at the off-the-court life of all your favorite Cougars.
So who are "we"? We are the men's basketball contacts in the Washington State University Athletic Media Relations office. Assistant director Jessica Schmick, a WSU graduate, is in her second year as the Cougar Men's Basketball contact and her fifth year in the business. As for me, I am Michael Walsh; a junior here at WSU in my second year as the student assistant for men's basketball. I guess you could say I am the Karl Malone to Jessica's John Stockton. Along with some help from student-athletes, managers and support staff, Jessica and I will take turns writing entries in this blog throughout the season.
We are going to go ahead and take a page out of Joe Nickell's book and invite all of the loyal Cougar Basketball followers to send in your own ideas for the name of the blog. E-mail your favorite suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best name will adorn the men's basketball blog for the rest of the year.
Today is the first official day of practice for the 2008-09 basketball season, and though the opening weekend is overshadowed a little by the big football game tomorrow, it is time to turn some attention towards the hardwood.
As most of you know, this year's Cougar team will have a lot of fresh legs joining the veteran core of Aron Baynes, Caleb Forrest, Daven Harmeling, Nikola Koprivica and Taylor Rochestie. Returning to the team after spending last season as squad members will be sophomore Fabian Boeke and redshirt freshmen Charlie Enquist and Abe Lodwick. Seeing their first official court time as Cougars today will be seven true freshmen: John Allen, Marcus Capers, DeAngelo Casto, Mike Harthun, Klay Thompson, James Watson and Nick Witherill.
Here's a quick meet-the-team session:
0 Marcus Capers (G 6-4 172 FR)
Winter Haven, Fla. (Montverde Academy)
A two-time All-State honoree, Capers played one season at Montverde Academy after transferring from Lake Region HS prior to his senior season. As a senior the versatile guard averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game.
1 Klay Thompson (G 6-6 187 FR)
Ladera Ranch, Calif. (Santa Margarita Catholic HS)
The 2007-08 Division III State Player of the Year, Thompson led Santa Margarita Catholic HS to a State Championship as a senior. A sharp shooter, Thompson picked up numerous honors as a senior, including Trinity League MVP, first-team Best in the West and EA Sports Second Team All-American accolades.
3 Mike Harthun (G 6-3 180 FR)
Medford, Ore. (South Medford HS)
A four-year letterwinner at South Medford HS, Harthun helped lead his team to two-straight State Championship game appearances, winning the title as a junior. Known for his long distance shooting, Harthun ranks second in SMHS history with 1,949 career points. A three-time All-State honoree, Harthun averaged 19.3 points and 5.7 assists per game in his four years of high school basketball.
4 Nikola Koprivica (G 6-6 216 JR)
Belgrade, Serbia (Sport Grammer School)
A two-year letterwinner at WSU, Koprivica is looking forward to a healthy year after injuring his knee in January of his freshman season. With his size, driving ability and experience, Koprivica will be looked to make an impact in the backcourt. Koprivica spent part of his summer in Latvia playing for the Serbian U20 team which took home the gold at the European Championship.
5 Abe Lodwick (G 6-7 200 RS-FR)
Bend, Ore. (Mountain View HS)
Lodwick spent the 2007-08 season as an important contributor each day at practice while redshirting. With his length and smooth left-handed shooting ability, Lodwick is a dangerous addition to the Cougar backcourt. A four-year letterwinner at Mountain View HS, Lodwick was named All-State as both a junior and senior.
10 Taylor Rochestie (G 6-1 193 RS-SR)
Santa Barbara, Calif. (Tulane University)
The WSU single-season record holder for minutes played, Rochestie will carry a heavy load as the returning point guard. One of the best ball handlers in the country, Rochestie ranked 10th in the nation last year with a 2.8 assist/turnover ratio. One of several lefties on the team, Rochestie has become dangerous from 3-point range and averaged a team third-best 10.4 points per game last season.
11 Aron Baynes (C 6-10 250 SR)
Cairns, Australia (Cairns State HS)
One of the most experienced players on the team, Baynes returns as the starting center having shed 20 pounds from last season. Baynes brings a tremendous amount of size to the Cougar frontcourt and averaged a team third-best 10.4 points per outing last season. Baynes continues to improve his strength and is one of the most consistent shooters on the court after shooting .600 from the field last season.
13 Fabian Boeke (C 6-11 223 SO)
Hamburg, Germany (Urspring Basketball Academy)
Although a member of last season's team, Boeke missed the entire season due to NCAA eligibility rules. With his length and shooting ability, Boeke's presence is hard to match up with. Prior to coming to WSU, Boeke played on the German U20 national team and was a member of the German A2 men's national team.
14 James Watson (F 6-7 210 FR)
Atoka, Okla. (Stringtown HS)
A three-year letterwinner at Stringtown HS, Watson led his team to the Class `B' State Championship as a senior. He was a two-time all-conference honoree. A tremendous shot blocker and rebounder, Watson will look to add athletic ability at the small forward position for the Cougars.
20 John Allen (G 6-0 181 FR)
Brier, Wash. (Mountlake Terrace HS)
Allen earned one letter at Mountlake Terrace HS after earning two letters at Shorewood HS. A solid point guard, Allen earned all-conference accolades as both a sophomore and junior.
23 DeAngelo Casto (F 6-8 229 FR)
Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS)
Casto earned two letters at Ferris HS after transferring from Freeman HS prior to his junior season. A gifted shot blocker, Casto did not lose a game as a member of the Ferris HS team, as the team holds a 58-game winning streak heading into the 2008-09 season. The reigning 4A State player of the year, Casto averaged 14.7 points and 11.1 rebounds in his two seasons at FHS, adding 4.0 blocks per game as a senior.
32 Daven Harmeling (F 6-7 227 RS-SR)
Grand Junction, Colo. (Fruita Monument HS)
Harmeling enters his fifth season with the Cougars in 2008-09, serving an instrumental role as a team leader. Last season Harmeling averaged 5.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while ranking third on the team with 35 made 3-pointers. A small forward with a smooth shot, Harmeling is a threat behind the 3-point arc.
40 Charlie Enquist (F 6-10 222 RS-FR)
Edmonds, Wash. (Kings HS)
A two-year letterwinner at Kings HS, Enquist redshirted last season as a true freshman at WSU. An important part of practices, Enquist has added strength to this tall frame which helps him contribute down low.
44 Nick Witherill (G 6-1 176 FR)
Phoenix, Ariz. (Highland HS)
Witherill earned a total of four varsity basketball letters, including one, as a senior, at Gilbert Highland HS. A four-time All-State honoree, Witherill set the school record for points in a season as a junior while at Saguaro HS. A steady ball handler and shooter, Witherill averaged 16 points, five assists and three steals per game as a senior.
52 Caleb Forrest (F 6-8 223 SR)
Pagosa Springs, Colo. (Pagosa Springs HS)
Known for his hustle, Forrest returns as a vital part of the Cougar frontcourt. A three-year letterwinner at WSU, Forrest averaged 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game as a junior. Forrest has the ability to come up big in important games. Last season his Pac-10 high for points (eight) came in WSU's games against California, UCLA and Arizona, three of the Cougars' seven league losses.
Later this weekend we will have practice recaps along with photo galleries, so be sure to check it out!
Keep it crimson,
Jessica Schmick and Mike Walsh, WSU Athletic Media Relations
Countdown to opening tip-off: 30 days (25 days until the exhibition game)