Cougs tip-off season in Beasley

Men’s basketball gets first play on Monday against Texas State

WSU+guard+Kymany+Houinsou+dunks+the+ball+during+ZzuMania+skills+challenge%2C+Nov.+2.

COLE QUINN

WSU guard Kymany Houinsou dunks the ball during ZzuMania skills challenge, Nov. 2.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball starts the season on Monday at home on the Palouse against the Texas State Bobcats.

The Cougs are coming off a season where they went deep in the National Invitational Tournament. Also competing in the NIT was the Texas State Bobcats, who lost a heartbreaker in overtime to North Texas in the first round.

Texas State’s NIT run came after a 21-8 season and Sun Belt championship. They have retained some major pieces in the off-season. The Bobcats are returning nine players from last season including leading scorer Mason Harrell at the guard spot and another starter in forward Nate Martin.

The Cougs had a record of 22-15 last year, finishing tied for fifth in the Pac-12. They return two starters, those being forward TJ Bamba and center Mouhamed Gueye.

Gueye was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team last year and was given five Freshman of the Week awards. He was also named to the preseason All-Pac-12 first team, and this season is looking very likely to be his breakout season.

Alongside Gueye and Bamba are big-name transfers in Justin Powell and Jabe Mullins, along with multiple international additions in Mael Hamon-Crespin (France), Kymany Houinsou (France) and Adrame Diongue (Senegal).

WSU head coach Kyle Smith is going into his fourth year at the helm, and so far his reign has been a successful one, with no losing seasons after he inherited a team that was on a streak of seven losing seasons.

After achieving a postseason berth last season but not making an NCAA tournament appearance, Smith and the Cougs are looking forward to a chance at the big dance.

A main focus for the Cougs this season according to Smith is improving offensively without sacrificing defense.

“I think we’ve made the adjustments, and become better offensively, better perimeter shooting, better passing, better at that piece,” Smith said at the Pac-12 Media Day. “But we’ve gotta be able to still defend and rebound at the right level.”

With only two sure starters at this point, we are likely to see a number of lineups for the Cougs in these early season non-Pac games, especially with the Cougs fielding a high number of versatile players that can play multiple positions.

After the opener, the Cougs will get a few days off, before a road trip to Boise State and Prairie View next weekend.

Coug nation will get their first chance to see how these improvements work out for the Cougs against Texas State at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 at Beasley Coliseum. The game will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Network.