About a month ago, when DeAngelo Casto declared for the NBA Draft, Brian authored this excellent piece attempting to offer some insight into Casto's decision, which seemed curious (at best) to most outsiders.
Drawing on his observations, anecdotal experiences by both Craig and I with troubled youth, and some off-the-record stuff from contacts in Pullman, Brian painted a picture of a kid who knows only how to survive and speculated that Tony Bennett's departure for Virginia might have had a much bigger impact on Casto than we ever realized.
Many of those suspicions have been confirmed as Casto opened up with Ryan Feldman of The Hoops Report in a wide-ranging interview that shed some light on Casto's thought processes leading up to the draft. As you read, it's important to remember this is just Casto's version of events -- it's a one-source story, and the only source is Casto. But it's insightful in the sense that we get a little peek into what's going on inside Casto's head right about now, and how he saw his three years at WSU.
A lot of what Casto talks about has been reported elsewhere (although some of it seems to embellish upon previous reports), but what hasn't been talked about was just how hard he says it was for him to watch Bennett leave:
"I instantly cried," Casto said. "I had no other reaction but flat-out tears. In my heart, I was really happy for him because I know when I was looking at his kids and his family, it was something he really debated, and he wanted to support them as far as he could.
"I was just heartbroken. I just couldn't believe it was happening. He was a lot of the reason I showed up at WSU. I was a kid who was literally going to be taken care of. Under his program, I was taken care of for the most part. I was really held accountable. I felt more responsible. I just was able to fit in good with him. He also understood me. He understood a lot of where I was coming from with a lot of different things. It was like the head of the household leaving me. It was really heartbreaking."
An interesting subtext to the story, though, is that Casto says he and Ken Bone didn't see eye-to-eye after Bone was hired:
"Tony was the only reason I went to WSU," Casto said, "and he had the concept of including family and religion and God as part of our team and as a unit. And that was something we could fall back on. And essentially when he left, that idea left. Another guy came in who was completely and ultimately unsupportive of who I was. He just didn't fully understand who I was or what I was or what I brought to the team. We constantly butted heads and we constantly didn't get along. ...
"The new coach came in and I was turned off to him for a little bit because I was so bitter about my coach being gone – my coach, who was helping me develop, and actually showed a care in what I'm doing. It was hard to watch him go."
I'll just go ahead and say it's not a good thing when a player refers to his coach of the last two years as "another guy" and "the new coach" rather than his name. And Bone has dropped hints in the past that things weren't all sunshine and lollipops from his end, either, cryptically saying in an interview with Ian Furness at KJR 950-AM in Seattle back in March that Casto was a hard worker "on the court" and leaving it at that.
If we're looking at the big picture of the program in general, this just underscores in my mind how hard transitions can be. As someone who's taken over a pair of highly successful programs at schools from teachers who were beloved by their students, I know first hand just how hard it can be to earn the respect of the kids left behind.
For whatever reason, it seems Bone never was able to earn Casto's respect. Was that Bone's fault? Casto's fault? Who knows. I can tell you from experience that sometimes when you're the new guy, it doesn't matter what you do. And in some ways, the new thing isn't really yours until the last of your predecessors' kids are gone. It's why you often see mass transfers when a new coach takes over a program.
At any rate, this article just adds to the mounting evidence that there was some serious dysfunction on last year's team that might have contributed, at least in part, to the uneven play all season long.
(Major league h/t to Sundodger for posting this in the FanShots. Much appreciated ... even if you're a Husky.)