Archive for the ‘DeAngelo Casto’ Category

Big Win, Even if You Didn’t See it

January 30, 2009


Would have been nice to see this one on TV wouldn’t it? But even if it was only the Bud Nameck show, a win is a win is a win. And wow, what a win! Any time you go on the road and beat the 14th-ranked team in their house, when you so desperately needed a win, well, things like this can change an entire direction of a season. So you see, the season IS NOT OVER.

And while ASU had their super-frosh last year in James Harden, well, Klay-Klay Thompson “made it rain” last night. Eight of 10 from three-point land? 28 points in the most crucial game of the year? Wow. And it sounded like ASU stayed in their zone D the whole game, which is hoops 101 – how do you beat a zone? Good ball movement, and oh yeah, shoot over the top of it. Even I know that. But as Klay told it to Grippi:

“They were playing a zone, so it is easier to get open looks from 3 instead of against man-to-man. … We would have played tighter on me, but they’re a zone team and they play it well, so they didn’t change what’s working for them.”

One more great thing about this game, and you could hear Nameck last night talk about it from time to time, but the defense of DeAngelo Casto was excellent. Grippi has some good stuff in his game story how the whole thing went down. But to put Casto, technically your power forward of tomorrow (or today?), off the bench to guard the high-flying 6-4 Harden? And it actually worked? I did some triple-takes listening to Nameck say Casto was on Harden. It didn’t seem possible. But there you have it. Serious onions by the staff, no doubt about it.

Meanwhile, some comings….and goings….in football.

About that JC All-American tight end out of Utah who showed up in January, already enrolled and ready to go? Never mind. Peter Tuitupou has decided to leave Pullman and head for his church mission. Can’t blame the kid, I mean you have to follow your heart and soul in things like that, but it is what it is. Note that the story is a premium one on Cougfan, but the headline says it all.

The Cougs landed a big kid out of the Bay Area last night in linebacker Sekope Kaufusi. Check out the Youtube goodness.

Just a one-star rating by Scout.com and no other schools are even listed in the schools of choice area, so this is a way-under-the-radar deal. He’s big (6-4, 230) and runs a reported 4.7 40. Wonder why the number-11 rated prospect in the Bay Area with size and 4.7 speed as a middle linebacker wasn’t highly recruited? Me too. The San Mateo Journal sure liked him, naming him as co-player of the year for 2008. An interesting, tough backstory to Kaufusi as well. Check it out here, as well as some comments here:

While the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Kaufusi was effective in all phases of the game, he made his biggest — check that, loudest — impact on defense. One of the hardest hitters to come out of San Mateo County in several years, Kaufusi often resembled a heat-seeking missile — and whoever had the ball was his target.

A player’s offensive value can be quantified with statistics, but it’s harder to make a judgment on a defensive player’s impact. But Kaufusi was the rare defensive talent who could do just that, often recording several jarring hits a game. Often times the players on the receiving end of his hits had to be helped off the field. It was only human to see opposing players suddenly get gun shy to go over the middle, knowing they could be the next one to get popped.

“Big hits bring a lot of intimidation, but they also bring a lot of encouragement to your teammates,” Kaufusi said. “Trying to deliver that big hit is always on my mind. They can be a momentum-changer, and I go into every game to be that difference-maker.”

Sounds like a middle linebacker to me.

Oh yeah, UW is committing MORE secondary recruiting violations. We won’t spill any more ink on these guys. We’ve said enough as it is. But are secondary violations a big deal? Not if it just happens once. Start racking them up? That’s another story. Seems like it’s just sloppiness combined with some overzealousness on behalf of the coaches to get UW back to where many want to see it. But whatever. They can downplay it all they want, UW fans, but the rules are there for a reason.

Finally, Grippi has a really good look at the recruiting class right now. While he doesn’t have anything on Kaufusi at the moment, he does break down the numbers game and that it is likely this class will be in the low-20’s in terms of sheer volume. Partially because of scholies to walk-ons from last year who earned their spot (Myron Beck), and partially because of grayshirts who committed last year but are in school now, like DT Josh Luapo.

THAT is it for a WONDERFUL FRIDAY! ENJOY IT, and GO COUGS!

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Longball’s View from the Cheap Seats

January 25, 2009

Hello Cougar Nation,

Longball here! Did anyone miss me? Does anyone even remember me? I can’t blame you if your answer is no and no, but I am here regardless to give you the View from the Cheap Seats on this year’s Cougar basketball team. So grab a hotdog and soda and join me in the orange seats way up in the rafters of Beasley.

What have I seen?

So far it hasn’t been pretty and from where I’m sitting I would advise you all to take whatever expectations you had for this season and… SELL, SELL, SELL! With remaining road trips to LA, the Bay and the Arizona schools still ahead there is no bailout package that is going to save this team. This week the Cougs had a golden opportunity to become major players in this years Pac-10 race and fell 4 points short. Que up the fat lady.

After suffering through the Baylor, Gonzaga and UW games this year I developed a strong conviction that this team was not even going to sniff an NIT bid. At the time it was a conviction founded in their inability to compete for 40 minutes with quality teams. Although we have shown an improved ability to compete recently, that conviction remains, and is quickly becoming a matter of simple mathematics. We need 7 more wins to even consider an NCAA bid and be comfortable with an NIT bid. If you can find those 7 wins on our remaining schedule, than you should be assigned to the DB Cooper task force, because they are nowhere to be found. So, what happened?

Obviously the departure of the greatest trio in Cougar history was going to be tough to overcome, but what we have learned is that the remaining veterans, who have been great roll players the last 2 seasons, are exactly that; great roll players. When it was time to take the team on their shoulders Rochestie, Baynes, Harmeling and Kopervica have not had what it takes. Caleb Forest has been a big exception, and Baynes has been dependable, but Rochestie has been maddeningly inconsistent while Nik and Harm have just vanished altogether. The success of the last 2 seasons has made the prospect of rebuilding hard to swallow, but that is exactly what we’re doing. Oh yeah, and as of now we are tied with Oregon State. Gulp.

Am I bumming you out? Here’s the good news. Our rebuilding effort may be progressing faster than we ever could have hoped. This Freshman class is lights out. Capers, Casto and Thompson are good now, and Lodwick is starting to get significant minutes. As it stands, our best lineup consists of 3 freshmen. Every night we see glimpses of what can happen when the Bennett system is being run by kids with the athleticism now being drawn to the Palouse. It is easy to imagine the names Capers, Casto and Thompson may one day be uttered with the same reverence on the Palouse as Weaver, Low and Cowgill.

As you may have noticed, I like to hearken back to past Cougar glory to gain perspective on the present, and I cant help but compare this era to the Kelvin Sampson teams of the early 90’s. That was a great time for Cougar hoops, culminating in a trip to the Dance and multiple NIT bids, but we are way ahead of where we ever got back then. This years team is going to take its lumps in Pac-10 play, but in a down year we are still as good as some of the better teams of those days. Remember Bennie Seltzer, Kenny Critton, Terence Lewis, Neil Derrick, and Rob Corkrum? Those guys never made it to the Big Dance and struggled to get more than 7 or 8 wins in Pac-10 play, but they were good. They gave us some memorable wins, like beating Herold Miner’s USC Trojans. (ESPN Broadcast the game and on Sports Center they timed Glen Johnson’s pronunciation of “Benieeeeeeeeeeeee Seltzer!”. Remember? It was 13 seconds, I believe.)

With continued improvement this year we may scratch out a respectable 7 or even 8 wins in Pac-10 play, but I’m not going to get too hung up on getting to the post season. Right now the next generation Cougar stars are just starting to emerge, and they are going to take us on a great ride. Harthun, Witherill and Watson are still waiting to get their chance and from all appearances guys like Thames and Motum should be exciting additions next year. Dick Bennett built the teams that took us dancing the last two years, and now Tony is building his team. So far , so good.

Overtime! A few extra observations from the cheap seats…

Uniforms- I LOVE our uniforms. Simple. Classic. Please join me in praying that Nike doesn’t come in next year and deck us out in the same ridiculous clown suits the rest of the league wears.

Fans- Beasley is always going to be hard to fill because most fans live 300 miles away, the nearest population center, Spokane, has its own very popular and successful basketball team, and everyone 6 miles to the West also has their own team, the Vandals. But still, is it too much to ask all the old fogies in the season ticket section to actually SHOW UP once in a while? Or hell, I’ll take your ticket if you NEVER intend to use it! The decision to shrink the student section this year was a bad one. They are the only dependable fans we have.

Jumbo Tron- Or heck, any kind of ‘tron will do! Right now we project replays onto a movie screen that can barely be seen. And if you sit with me in the cheap seats, forget about it! We need one of those things that hangs in the middle of the arena with scores on all sides, so us folks with obstructed views don’t have to keep score ourselves. I’ll donate the first dollar, lets do this!

Thanks for hanging out in the cheap seats with me. Until next time…

Go Cougs!

Brinkhater’s Season Basketball PRE View

November 15, 2008

Happy Saturday to you all, Cougar Nation.

Hard to believe, but today is GAME DAY for the 2008-09 Basketball season, so I thought I’d give you my annual PRE view of the upcoming tilt.

Like my dear friend and colleague Vincent Grippi noted last week on Sportslink, there are a lot of Blogs out there with a bunch of yahoos who have not been to practice, not watched video, and not talked to any players, coaches, or anyone who has a real idea about what is going on inside the program.

Sound like anyone to you?

Exactly.

Which is why I once again am going to give you all a quick glimpse into what I am looking for heading into this very important 2008-09 campaign.

But first, here’s the BIG picture:

1) This basketball season portends to be the equivalent of our 2003 Football team. I am actually expecting big things out of this group.

2) Next year will be a somewhat down year for the program, so I urge you all to really enjoy this year. I think its going to be really fun!

3) Brinkhater is predicting a 9-4 preseason.

4) Brinkhater is also predicting an 11-7 conference (t-4, Pac-10 gets five births with a low seed for us because of few quality wins).

5) Brinkhater is further predicting an 11 seed in the NCAA tournament.

6) Brinkhater sees us winning a 1st round NCAA game, winning a second game, and bowing out once again in the Sweet 16.

But for this fairy tale season to reach its fruition, let me give you what I think NEEDS to happen and then follow up with what I am assuming will happen.

THINGS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN

1) Marcus Capers’ Floor Leadership

If you all have been reading, you know that Marcus is the 6 foot 4 point guard out of Florida that Rochestie gave his scholarship up for (initially). Of all of the accolades thrown at this kid, the biggest upside he is supposed to carry is his defense–which is a good thing! But what this team is going to need more than that is for him to become a steady floor general.

Last year, one of our main achillees heels was our lack of depth in the backcourt. Thankfully, we overcame that depth issue because both Low and Weaver were able to assume the point guard duties when a) we needed Taylor to shoot the rock and b) when the guy sat down to get a blow.

Unless I missed something, we have no Weaver, and while I love Cassius Klay Thompson (see next), he isn’t a point guard. Capers will have to play well in the conference for us to do anything. Thus, I will be looking closely at his minutes in the pre-season. Hopefully, T-Bone will throw this kid to the Wolves even if it costs us against Pitt, Baylor, and/or LSU. We need this kid to develop in a hurry.

2) Cassius Klay Thompson MUST be Efficient

Nation, there’s a lot about this team that I haven’t seen. But, Klay Thompson I have seen–in the 2008 California State Championship game. Nation, this guy is a Kyle Weaver (not as good defensively, but who is or ever will be?) and Ike Fontaine mix. He is NBA special.

That said, we all remember the type of “off” nights that freshmen stars OJ Mayo had last year don’t we?

With the make-up of our team, we simply will not be able to stand many 7-20 nights because we don’t create enough possessions to compensate for being innefficient. I look for Thompson to get a few Dick Bennett style lashings from T-Bone early on.

But then, look out. This kid WILL score over 30 in a game this year.

3) Baynes’ Feet and (Half) Courtvision MUST Improve

Last year in the NCAA tourney Baynes was the only Cougar in my book who rose to the moment on the national stage. Now, with Love and the Dummy Twins out of the League, Baynes figures to be your first team All-Conference center.

But, in order for him to ascend to such honors, there are two basic things he must do to improve his offense and defense.

First, on the defensive side, he needs to keep his feet. Last year, on two many occasions, Baynes was airborne after the first pumpfake. The result: fouls and duck-unders by Love and other savy 4’s and 5’s which would also give away the glass. This year, with the potential talents of Casto (and maybe Watson) in the mix, Baynes should realy just make people shoot over him. If he does, his rebounding totals should increase nicely. Even more importantly, he’ll be in the stinking game.

Now on offense, Baynes needs to be quicker to recognize the double team and needs to distribute much better than he’s done in the past. Last year, when we tried to establish Baynes early, he was often painfully slow and deliberate, and as a result, so were we. This year, we won’t be good enough defensively to score only 4-6 points in the first 8 minutes of games. Baynes will average 14 and 8 this year. But HOW he does that will be what matters for our fortunes.

3)Harmeling’s Jumper Must Have a Prayer

Two years ago, Harmeling was the 28 point bombshell against Gonzaga and Arizona. Last year, he fell off the map.

This year, he simply needs to shoot well from anywhere. If he can shoot well from behind the arc, then we will challenge for the second spot in the conference. But what we really, really need is for him to just shoot well in the midrange game. Remember, in games last year where Cowgill hit the 12-15 jumper off the glass, we KILLED teams. If Harmeling can stretch the defense at the 4, then Baynes has space to go off and the slashers like Nick and Thompson have room to take the ball to the rack. THAT leads to dish-offs to Baynes and the take-off of this basketball team.

Just like last year, Harmeling is your X man.

WHAT BRINKHATER’S BANKING ON

1) Nick’s Steady Play

There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Nicky boy to fill the shoes left by Kyle Weaver. But, I’m trusting that he’s been through enough to not get bogged down by that pressure. I think Nick is going to be a solid guy on the baseline. And, from what I’ve seen in past years, a capable man in the pack defense. Remember, this team will be starting FOUR GUYS that have been in the program for three years. So, he should be able to be the steady Eddy that we need him to be.

2) Casto’s Emergence as ‘The Real Deal’ by season’s end.

If you want to know why I have the audicity to think that this team is going back to the Sweet 16 it is because of this kid. After decades of watching the tourney, the recipe for advancing is simple: good guard play and shot blocking underneath. With Casto, we’re going to have the latter (and the former with Rochestie, Thompson, and bench). While I’ve heard that his timing is natural, I suspect that there will be some short performances for this kid early on (like 4 fouls in 15 minutes). But, as the season progresses, I am banking that he will develop the discipline necessary for us to emerge among the nation’s elite.

3) Improved Shooting

It may be hard to remember this, but there were several games and stretches last year where Rochestie was the only guy on the team that could hit the broad side of a barn. This year, with Rochestie taking more of a role in the offense, with a leaner and more polished Baynes, and with Thompson’s long range genius (wait til you see it!), this team will be much improved offensively. The question, of course, is how much we will drop-off defensively. With improved shot-blocking and a deeper 3-Point line, I’m guessing not much.

4) Taylor Stays Healthy

We can’t afford to lose Baynes for a long stretch at any time this year. But losing Taylor would flush the season down the toilet. I’m banking that Taylor stays healthy. And I’m also banking that there’s nothing called a “Brinkhater Curse.”

Final Thought:

I really do believe that this is a 2003 WSU Football type season. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it, because at this point, we all could use a few Cougar Victories.

And, thanks to T-Bone and company, we’re going to get about 23-24 of them this year.

(WSU 71 MSVSU 48 in the opener)

Cougs Land Casto

April 17, 2008

I guess the sweet call of Big-Time Georgetown just wasn’t sweet enough. There was some speculation that this could happen yesterday, but today is a new day. Vince at SR.com has broken the story this afternoon that Washington 4-A State Player of the Year DeAngelo Casto is headed for Pullman!

Now, he still has to become eligible. Casto says things are cool and he’s on target to be able to join the team next year, but stay tuned there.

If you haven’t seen him, Casto is a wonderfully talented 6-8 power forward who has really evolved. His offensive game needs some improvement, but he’s got all the tools you look for at a young age. Regarded as a tremendous leaper, he’s also known for a soft touch around the perimeter. He’s got a very strong frame, and you can see that once he gets into an NCAA lifting program, he could really pack on the muscle. He’s a nice addition to next year’s team and who knows, perhaps he’ll break through and see some court time as a true frosh?

The exciting thing about Casto is how well he performed when the lights were the brightest over the last couple of seasons. He averaged a double-double the last two years combined, but just in hte state tourney alone this year, he averaged nearly 19 points per game on a deep, talented championship team. Casto also set a tournament record with 25 blocked shots in four games, including a dominating EIGHT in the title game!

I think this basically solidifies this year’s recruiting class as the greatest in school history, at least in regards to pre-season hype. Marcus Capers, James Watson, Klay Thompson, Michael Harthun, Nick Witherill, and now DeAngelo Casto makes this a class that we could be talking about for a long, long time. Nice “get” Tony, and welcome to the family DeAngelo!

Sauls Out, Casto In?; Spring Game Called Off

April 10, 2008

So it got weird with Kevin Love and Darren Collison. First the LA Times says they are gone, then Ben Howland later in the day says mmmm, not so fast. They aren’t gone…yet. What will today bring? Who knows. But when you think about it, why, EXACTLY, would you bolt UCLA early if given the choice? You could probably come up with a few reasons to stick it out??

Moving on, in one of the worst-kept secrets around, Stephen Sauls got his release from the hoops program. It’s been speculated for months since he suffered his concussion and returned home to Texas. It’s too bad, because he’s reportedly a good kid and did some things that warranted playing time early on in Tony’s system. When you think about losing Low and Weaver from next year’s team, you could see how Sauls would fit in. Hopefully he gets healthy and finds something closer to home.

Which brings us to DeAngelo Casto. Rumored since the 4-A state tourney that he was a hard lean to WSU, Casto has been claiming to all who will listen that he wants to be a Coug. Well, not so fast. First of all, he hasn’t qualified yet academically with test scores below the eligibility line. Then there’s another player out there that we are interested in, and that is Paul McCoy, the highly-touted point guard from Oregon. McCoy was headed for Pepperdine, but was let out of his LOI after their coach left the program. McCoy is now back out there and the recruiting is really heating up for him. He just had a visit to Kentucky, and WSU is one of about eight schools on his list. So it might be a long shot to get him anyway, but one could argue that if we did get him, he might better fit a need for next year vs. a low-post presence in Casto?

Another fly in the Casto ointment? Georgetown. The Hoyas have started calling him, and it sounds according to Cougfan that he’s starting to get a little starry-eyed. His quote to Cougfan was “if he could do it real BIG” he could head to Georgetown. BIG? Hmm, maybe he’s not the fit we thought? That isn’t exactly music to Tony’s ears, wouldn’t you say? Casto did talk to the Spokesman yesterday, and sounded much more certain to be a Coug. We’ll see how it plays out. We will probably find out quick, with the spring signing period kicking off on April 16th.

Big day in the Pac-10 hoops scene yesterday. OJ Mayo is gone, and he’s hiring an agent so forget about him coming back. And why should he? NBADraft.net has him as the #3 pick right now. If you are projected as a lottery pick, you probably should go (as Love is #13 right now). But a top-3 pick? BUH-BYE! Chase Budinger also declared his NBA intentions. However he hasn’t yet decided on hiring an agent or not, so the door could stay open for his return. Personally? Good riddance. He can’t leave fast enough for me.

Trent Johnson jumped to Baton Rouge. He was part of the article earlier in the week, one of many coaches that LSU spoke with at the Final Four. But he wasn’t exactly rumored to be THE guy. I heard a writer from LSU on the radio late yesterday, and the general feeling was one of shock. He thought Pernell of Clemson was the top choice. He also said that he heard Tony was in the top-3, for sure, but he basically told them in a one-sided conversation that he was very happy in Pullman so you should move on to someone else. SO why would Johnson leave? It sounds as though there was a lot going on down there, from not seeing eye-to-eye with the AD, not being happy with his contract that still wasn’t officially renewed, etc. The incident vs. Marquette probably didn’t help things with the Stanford brass either?? There is already a list of candidates for the Stanford job, and NO, Tony isn’t on the list. One name that is interesting though? Mark Few. The Seattle Times posted a story from a few years back that said Few could be a really good fit down there and that “sources close to Few speculate he could be interested in Stanford.” Interesting.

Back to WSU football (that is what we do around here?). The TNT had a strong write-up of QB Kevin Lopina and his progress this spring. We wrote about him after the last scrimmage, and even though we have heard good information about Marshall Lobbestael, the buzz has been the strongest about Lopina locking up the #2 spot in the QB rotation. If he stays healthy and things continue, he will really push Rogers for PT this fall.

You probably already know what you need to about Lopina and his back-story, but one thing that jumped out was his rushing ability at De La Salle. Did you know he logged 750 rushing yards and 10 TD’s as a senior? You can understand why he would be a fit in Wulff’s offense, which while not completely necessary, hey, an athletic QB in this shotgun, spread offense? What an asset! Lopina could be that “hold your breath” kind of guy, who you just never know if he could tuck it and run or pull it back and wing it. We haven’t seen a legit dual-threat like that in many years. Gesser could scramble, but he wasn’t a guy who scared defenses with his legs. Brink? No. Kegel was a decent athlete, but again, not like this. I guess you could go all the way back to Rosey and his running ability? I would bet that no matter how well Rogers does, we ARE going to see Lopina get a few series, especially early on, to get a better handle on where he is.

Anyone notice Jeshua Anderson’s accomplishments away from the football program right now? Yeah, he’s just been named Pac-10 track athlete of the week! You already know this, but Anderson really is big-time in the hurdles. How big? Well, his latest time of 49.68 seconds in the 400m hurdles not only leads the NCAA’s this year, it’s the second-fastest time in THE COUNTRY. It’s the 10th-best time in the world right now. Have we seen the last of Anderson in a football uniform? There’s big money in track and field, bigger than we probably realize. When you are one of the best on the face of the earth in an event, can you blame him if he does go the pro route? Too bad for the football team if he is done, but great for the young man!

Finally, the spring game has been called off. As Wulff said in the TNT article, they are just too low on healthy bodies and the alarming lack of depth is too much to overcome this spring. Now they will have an open scrimmage at 11, followed by an autograph session at 12:30. Our own Hooty McBoob will be in Pullman to take it all in, so look for a recap later on Saturday.

GO COUGS! ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY!