In need of offense, WSU may juggle playing time

  • Associated Press
  • Thursday, January 8, 2009 10:13am
  • SportsSports

SPOKANE — Washington State leads the nation in defense by allowing just 50 points per game. The problem is, the Cougars aren’t scoring a whole lot more than that.

“We have to look at adjustments,” Bennett said as the Cougars (8-5, 0-1 Pac-10) prepared to play California (13-2) in Pullman today. “We’re not staying pat. We’ll try some different personnel.”

Their most reliable scorer, center Aron Baynes, is not getting enough touches because he’s double-teamed. But veterans Daven Harmeling and Nikola Koprivica aren’t making other teams pay by hitting outside shots.

In the 68-48 loss to Washington in the Pac-10 opener, Koprivica scored two points and Harmeling was scoreless and took only one shot. Harmeling was also scoreless in a loss to Louisiana State in the previous game and scored only three points against Idaho.

“Daven scores a lot off his screens,” Bennett said. “He has to look for those and be aggressive.”

Bennett might try more playing time for freshman DeAngelo Casto, who has played well in spurts.

“He brings energy,” Bennett said.

Freshmen Mike Harthun and Abe Lodwick also might get a chance to show what they can do.

They’d already had some success with freshmen, as Klay Thompson is averaging 11 points per game.

The best bet might be getting more passes inside to Baynes, who’s averaging 11 points per game and making 63 percent of his shots. He’s getting only seven shots per game.

Senior point guard Taylor Rochestie, averaging 10 points, has been streaky this season. Rochestie noted the Cougars have slumped in the second half of recent losses.

“We’ve got to find a way to win down the stretch,” Rochestie said.

Rochestie has been playing better, but is averaging more than 39 minutes in the past three games. Bennett is pondering whether more rest is in order.

California, under new coach Mike Montgomery, is one of the surprises of the Pac-10 this season. Behind point guard Jerome Randle, who is averaging 19 points per game, the Bears are on the cusp of breaking into the Top 25 after being picked to finish eighth in the league.

“They are playing at a very high level,” Bennett said. “They are rock-solid defensively.”

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