Thompson still confident, hot at practice

KLAY THOMPSON

PULLMAN — If Klay Thompson's work in practice this week is a harbinger of things to come, expect the Cougars to have a helluva lot better success tonight against Arizona State's zone defense than the last time the two teams played. Thompson tells CF.C that despite recent woes, his confidence has never wavered.

The Cougs and Devils tip off at 7 p.m. PT (no TV). WSU is 14-7 overall and 4-5 in Pac-10 play (tied for sixth), while ASU is 15-7 and 5-4 (tied for third). Arizona, who comes to Pullman Saturday, is 12-9 and 6-3. That game gets underway at 5:30 p.m. and will be televised on FSN and FSAZ.

Thompson, the Cougars' leading scorer, has been shooting poorly for much of the Pac-10 portion of the season, but in practice this week he was on fire.

Thompson scored 12 points combined in WSU's back-to-back losses to UCLA and UW, shooting a collective 21 percent from the floor on 7-of-32 accuracy.

In Tuesday's practice, Thompson, went 4-for-5 from three-point land during a 5-on-5 drill at the close of practice. And before the mini-scrimmage Thompson was knocking down jumpers from all over the court.

Thompson talked with CF.C and explained his confidence remains high and that his stroke is still there.

"I've just had an off game the last couple games, it happens but you just have to learn from it. I can't lose confidence because it will just carry over to more games," he said.

"It helps (making first shot in a game) but it really doesn't matter," Thompson said. "If you want to be a good player you can't just play one shot, you have to play every possession. I don't know any really good players who just let one shot determine how they play the rest of the game or 4-5 shots they miss. The really good players I've played against just keep going at you."

As for this week's games, Thompson said it will great to have the home court. "It feels good, I haven't been here in a while so it's really nice to come back and play in front of the home crowd. To come back and struggle our last two games we're looking forward to bounce back at home and show our fans the potential we have and what we can develop into." The ASU and Arizona games weigh large for the Cougs, he said.

"It's huge to remain in the hunt for post season play, for our record, and to show our fans that we're not going to lay down and give up after one bad loss," Thompson said. "We're going to show people that we're ready to compete and we've learned from the first part of the Pac-10 season and try and get off the second part with a good start."

HEAD COACH KEN BONE is keeping it close to the vest on whether hot-handed sixth-man Nikola Koprivica would get the power forward start against ASU ahead of Abe Lodwick. Koprivica spent a good amount of time running with the starting unit on Tuesday. Lodwick, who has started all but one game this season at the 4, showed great hustle Tuesday and looked good from outside. Lodwick was consistently hitting the deck for loose balls and was all over the glass fighting for rebounds. He also connected on an outside jumper consistently that is yet to be showcased through Pac-10 play thus far.

Another big man who showed hard work on Tuesday was center James Watson. The second year freshman was working hard on both the offensive and defensive glass, and was cutting to the hoop and getting great position on opposing defenders.

Freshman guard Xavier Thames is coming off a career game where he poured in 15 points in the Cougs 92-64 loss at the hands of the Huskies. On Tuesday Thames continued to impress with his jumper, and the Pleasant Grove HS product explained he will continue to improve on his stroke as the season continues.

"I'm continuing to work on my shot," Thames said. "I'm in the gym everyday and I just want to come out and be aggressive from now in for the second half of the Pac-10 season.

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