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Cougars are Second Seed at San Juan Shootout

Men's basketball team will open tourney against South Florida.

November 24, 1997

PULLMAN, Wash. - The Washington State men's basketball team is sure to pick up plenty of frequent flyer miles to get to the San Juan Shootout Nov. 28-30 and the Cougars would like to grab three non-conference wins while they're in Puerto Rico during Thanksgiving break.

The Cougars (2-0 overall) will cover over 5,000 miles (both air and ground transportation) to get from Pullman to San Juan (with stops in Spokane, Seattle and Newark, N.J.). WSU, the Shootout's No. 2 seed, battles South Florida (currently 1-0), the No. 7 seed, in the opening round Friday, Nov. 28 at 3 p.m. PST. In the second round, the Cougars are guaranteed to meet the winner/loser of No. 3 Dayton vs. No. 6 Pennsylvania.

Other first round matchups include No. 1 West Virginia vs. No. 8 Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (the Shootout host), and No. 4 Evansville vs. No. 5 Rice.

This is the first meeting between the Pacific-10 Cougars and the Bulls, who finished 8-19 overall last season with a Conference USA mark of 2-12 to place fourth out of four teams in the Red Division. Second-year head coach Seth Greenberg's USF squad topped Florida Atlantic 81-61 in the Bulls' opener. They play at Jacksonville Nov. 24 before coming to San Juan.

"They are extremely aggressive with their man-to-man defense, they always have a hand on you," said WSU head coach Kevin Eastman. "They have a lot of quickness and athleticism. They had the No. 25 ranked recruiting class last year, so they are going to put some freshmen on the floor."

The only other San Juan Shootout appearance for WSU came during the NCAA Tournament season of 1993-94 as the Cougars defeated the trio of Coppin State (57-55), Michigan State (76-71) and Marquette University (56-46) to claim the team title.

The Cougars shot exactly 50 percent from the field in both their wins over Central Washington (90-61) and Brigham Young (78-49). They've been scorching the net from behind the 3-point arc at 71.4 percent (15-21) with sophomore Chris Crosby knocking down 8 of 10 long shots.

Washington State Cougars (2-0) - Tentative Starters

 No. Name                   Pos. Ht.    Wt.  Yr.  Hometown           Ppg   Rpg
 34  Chris Crosby            F   6-7    218  SO   Littleton, Colo.   17.0  4.0
 41  Steve Slotemaker        F   6-9    221  JR   Aloha, Ore.        3.0   5.0
 54  Leif Nelson             C   6-10.5 272  JR   Riverside, Calif.  4.0   5.0
 14  Rodrigo de la Fuente    G   6-6.5  204  SR   Madrid, Spain      19.0  6.0
 03  Blake Pengelly          PG  5-10   163  SO   Eugene, Ore.       13.0  1.0

Head Coach: Kevin Eastman (175-115 career, 11 years / 51-40 WSU, 4 years)

Crosby and senior Rodrigo de la Feunte are both coming off career scoring highs at Brigham Young. Crosby made eight of nine shots (5 of 6 from 3-point range) for 21 points while de la Fuente led all scorers with 22 points.

Senior Carlos Daniel suffered an MCL sprain (left knee) during the BYU win. After an examination today, Daniel is still considered out for Friday. His availability will be determined by how well the knee responds during practice sessions this week.

"I think our guys realize they have to play better than maybe they're capable of playing because we lose one of the best players in our conference and arguably one of the top 50 players in the country," Eastman said of Daniel.

If Daniel is not ready to play, expect 6-10 1/2 center Leif Nelson or 6-3 forward Kojo Mensah-Bonsu to step up as the starter.

Three Dot Notes - The Cougars, who will leave behind mid-40 tempertures in Pullman, can expect to see rainy, 87 degree days in San Juan...the San Juan Shootout will incorporate three experimental rules, including the 40-second shot clock, a maximum of five in the lane during free throw attempts and the four-quarter format.

Washington State Cougars Cougar Athletic Fund