WASHINGTON STATE COACH Ken Bone said during his Tuesday teleconference that he is not thinking ahead…
Is Shelton's recent work a fluke or preview?
Confidence. Throughout the season D.J. Shelton has struggled to get into any type of rhythm on offense. He hasn't been much of a presence in the low post for WSU and he's often found himself picking up quick fouls. But things changed immensely at Oregon and Oregon State, when he combined for 20 points and 15 rebounds on 8-for-9 shooting. "It's up right now (confidence) and I'm feeling really good," Shelton said. "We're all feeling good as a team and we're ready to make this push towards the end of the season." Shelton's average minutes a game has climbed to 14.0 through this past weekend – as has his ppg (5.1) and rebounds (3.2). He is second in blocks (13) on the team behind senior guard Marcus Capers (17). "He's a young kid who's been really up and down emotionally playing behind Brock (Motum) and Charlie (Enquist)," Capers said. "He came off the bench with plenty of energy and him coming one rebound away from a double-double against Oregon State was real big for us. It's just the little things that we need as we make this push heading into the conference tournament." SHELTON THIS SEASON has been working closely with assistant coach Ben Johnson, who specializes with Cougar big men. Shelton said they've been focusing on keeping his hands strong, as well improving his jump hook. He feels that his game is getting more consistent overall, and that Coug Nation shouldn't think that last weekend was a fluke. "The fans can expect that from me every time I step out on the court," Shelton said. "I feel like I'm getting better every time I'm out there and my confidence is growing." In addition to Shelton, the Cougs also have junior Mike Ladd coming off his best game of the season in the 78-69 loss at Oregon on Saturday. Ladd scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting. "Energy wise you really need stuff like that, especially with Michael (Ladd)," Capers said. "You always want to see a kid coming off an injury with some confidence. That's something you're always going to need with someone who hasn't played in a while." THE COUGARS, (13-12 overall and 5-8 in Pac-12 play) face Arizona (18-8, 9-4) Thursday night at Friel Court (TV: Root, 6 p.m.) and Arizona State (8-17, 4-9) on Saturday (TV: Root, 5 p.m.). WSU will be looking to avenge the winless trip when they visited both schools a little over two weeks ago. "I feel like in the Arizona game we just weren't focused and they took advantage of that," Capers said. "We were shocked and then we walked into Arizona State thinking we were going to beat them because we thought they were weak. We ended up 0-2 but we're a whole lot more focused now." With the season winding down and the Pac-12 tournament looming, a winning homestand this weekend, and one that sees strong performances from Shelton and Ladd, would go a long ways towards lifting the Cougs' confidence overall. "We have a little chip on our shoulder knowing we can compete with any team in this conference," Capers said. "We're just pretty much trying to show that Thursday against Arizona and Saturday against Arizona State."
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