Cougars seek 'Moore' success against UW

KEN BONE

FEW COLLEGE BASKETBALL rivalries have been as competitive in recent years as the one in the Evergreen State. Washington State (9-7 overall, 1-3 Pac-12) plays at 4 p.m. Sunday at Washington (TV: FSN). WSU coach Ken Bone talked about the rivalry, recruiting and more during his Tuesday teleconference.

While UW (9-6, 3-1) holds a 172-100 lead in the series, the rivalry has been much more competitive during coach Lorenzo Romar's nine years on Montlake. Both teams have defeated each other 10 times during that span. Bone is 2-3 against the Huskies since he arrived in Pullman three years ago.

"I hope so because I don't foresee them dropping off a whole lot," Bone said when asked about the competitiveness of the rivalry. "I'm hoping that we can continue to compete with them and make it a great game."

One significant difference from last season relates to personnel for both teams. Wing Klay Thompson, who now plays for the Golden State Warriors, averaged 31.3 points to help the Cougars win two of three meetings last season against UW. DeAngelo Casto, who elected to forego his senior season to play professionally overseas, averaged 14.7 points and 10 rebounds versus the Huskies.

"It could be a little different situation if they were here," Bone said.

While those two are gone, Rainier Beach High School graduate Reggie Moore returns to Seattle. Moore has played well in the past against UW, particularly during last year's win in Pullman when he scored 18 points and added five assists.

Bone said he expects Moore, who did not start during Saturday's 71-60 loss at Colorado, to return to the first team Sunday.

He will have one of the most difficult defensive assignments on the court. While the Huskies graduated starters Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday and Isaiah Thomas entered the NBA Draft -- he now plays for the Sacramento Kings -- five-star recruit Tony Wroten arguably has emerged as their best player. The 6-foot-5 point guard averages a team-high 16.5 points per game.

"The other difference between last year is Tony Wroten," Bone said. "He's a pro -- there's no doubt about that. His basketball instincts and feel for the game are above and beyond most college guys."

He said Wroten never considered the Cougars during the recruiting process, but the Puget Sound region remains an emphasis for Bone and his staff.

"It's important because of locale," he said, adding that his staff is networked with high school and AAU coaches in the region. "There's a lot of Washington State alumni in the area that can help us in recruiting."

Bone said recruiting is a more important factor than socializing when he returns home.

"I've done it enough now that it's probably not as special to go back," he said.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • WSU trailed by as many as 22 points with 13 minutes left Saturday's game at CU. But the Cougars cut that margin to eight points about 10 minutes later and could have come even closer with a pair of blown layups.

    "I was very proud of the way we battled back," Bone said.

  • The Cougars converted 32 of 36 free throws last year at UW. They also made 19 of 24 free throws to secure an 81-76 win against Oregon State on Dec. 31 in Spokane. But WSU converted just 10 of 22 opportunities from the stripe during Thursday's 62-60 overtime loss at Utah.

    "We found that out against Utah," said Bone, referring to the importance of making free throws.

  • Sophomore forward Patrick Simon played two minutes during the Cougars' conference opener Dec. 29 against Oregon, but has not seen time since then.

    Bone said Simon still could emerge in the rotation.

    "I hope so," he said. "He's a great kid, works hard and can really stroke it. I'm hoping he can hang in there and wait for his opportunity."

  • Bone describe the team's mood as good with a caveat.

    "It's not like we're just embracing losses, that's for sure," he said. "We all feel there's still growth amongst this team."

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