Injuries, Clearinghouse making Bone antsy

JAMES WATSON

PULLMAN -- Washington State's basketball opener is five weeks away, and Ken Bone is getting a bit antsy about the absence of three players he's counting on during his first season as the Cougars' basketball coach.

Bone said Wednesday he expects sophomore forward DeAngelo Casto, redshirt freshman forward James Watson and heralded freshman point guard Xavier Thames to resume practicing with the Cougars next week when formal workouts begin.

Casto, recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery over the summer, had a temporary setback Monday when excessive fluid built up in his right knee.

Watson suffered a concussion and neck injury when he hit the court during workouts last week. Bone said Watson no longer suffers from a concussion, but he's yet to receive medical clearance on his neck.

Thames was forced to quit practicing with the Cougars recently after the NCAA Clearinghouse raised questions about his high school transcript. Like Casto and Watson, he continues to attend practices.

Bone said there's been no major surprises during the limited workouts coaches are allowed to conduct prior to the mid-October official start of practices.

"I knew quite a bit about a lot of these kids," said Bone, who guided Portland State to the NCAA tournament the past two years. "I'm real pleased with the attitude and effort they've brought to the floor each day. I appreciate that.

"I think we've got a ways to go to be more aggressive."

Friday, Oct. 16 marks the first day of "official" NCAA basketball practices, where daily workouts with the entire team and coaching staff on hand are permitted. The Cougars open the season Nov. 13 at home against Mississippi Valley State.

The WSU men's and women's teams will sign autographs after the men hold a short scrimmage on Oct. 16 when "Midnight Mayhem" unfolds at Bohler Gym. Doors open at 9:30 p.m., and the event is scheduled to end at approximately 11:15. Admission is free.

Prizes and team posters will be handed out before the women compete in a 3-point shooting contest and the men stage a dunk contest. Bone and women's coach June Daugherty will be on hand to address the crowd and introduce their players.

Fans are encouraged to attend the 25th-ranked WSU women's volleyball match with USC at 7 p.m. prior to "Midnight Mayhem." Free food will be served in the PE Building between the end of the volleyball match and the start of basketball activities.

The women's basketball team has completed its free youth clinics (co-sponsored by Cougfan.com), but the men's team will hold a free clinic for boys and girls from noon-1:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. Autographs and Halloween candy will be available afterwards.

Boys and girls in kindergarten through the sixth grade must register by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 at www.wsucougars.com. Phone the basketball office at (509) 335-0240 for more information.

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