Washington State: 2011-12 Post-MortemPosted by Connor Pelton on April 16th, 2012
Over the course of the next two weeks, the Pac-12 Microsite will break down each team’s season: what went well, what didn’t, and a look ahead at the future. Today’s subject: Washington State.
What Went Wrong
Washington State was plagued by inconsistencies in shooting especially from three-point range all season long. Their season was simple in a lot of ways; when they would shoot the three well, they’d win games. But when the touch was missing, boy was it missing. That led to mind-boggling losses against teams like UC Riverside, Utah, and Arizona State, which cost the Cougars a possible NIT bid. Some bad luck struck Pullman in late-January, when just after senior guard Faisal Aden went down for the season with an ACL tear just as he was hitting his stride. He suffered the leg injury after playing just 11 minutes at Arizona on January 26, a game the Cougars would go on to lose by 24. The injury would hurt Washington State physically and mentally, as they would lose four of their next six games. That dropped them to 13-13 with just two weeks to play in the regular season.
What Went Right
The Cougars were able to develop a pair of hybrid players in junior Brock Motum and senior Abe Lodwick. By seasons end, both were viable threats from both the paint and outside of three-point line, making things incredibly tough on opposing defenses. The newcomers were also solid and came up big at different times throughout the season. Freshman DaVonte Lacy quickly earned playing time as a combo guard early in the year, and did he ever make the most of it. Lacy averaged 8.5 PPG to lead the newcomers in 26.6 minutes of action. Junior shooting guard Mike Ladd came up big at times, and while only averaging 5.4 PPG, he threw in a pair of 13-point performances in hostile environments against Gonzaga and Oregon. Sophomore forward D.J. Shelton had a great season as well, averaging 4.7 PPG to go along with 2.9 RPG. Shelton’s best game by far came against his father’s old school in Washington State’s February 9 meeting against Oregon State in Corvallis. Shelton led the Cougs to an 83-73 victory and added 14 points and nine rebounds.
No question, Motum is the pick here. The 6’10″ forward averaged 18 PPG, which means he should not only take the team’s MVP award, but the Most Improved as well after only averaging 7.6 PPG in 2010-11.
Seniors Marcus Capers, Faisal Aden, Abe Lodwick, and Charlie Enquist will all be departing, with Aden’s departure hurting the most. Outside of Reggie Moore, Washington State doesn’t have a true upperclassmen guard that can be called on to shoot the ball when the Cougars need a bucket. An offseason battle between Ladd and Lacy will be held to fill Aden’s spot.
Players Coming In
Forward Greg Sequele and combo-guard Royce Woolridge redshirted the 2011-12 season, and while Sequele is still a year away from seeing substantial minutes, Woolridge could see a lot of action after the departures of Capers and Aden. The Cougars have four signees for this year’s recruiting class and are looking to get one more as well. The signees are all three stars consisting of small forwards Demarquise Johnson, Brett Boese, and Richard Longrus and center Richard Peters. However, Bone recently told the Kitsap Sun that “It’s going to be close” regarding the academic eligibility of Johnson and Peters. The Cougars are also looking to sign Jordan Tebbutt, a small forward out of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. Tebbutt also has offers from Arizona, Gonzaga, and Washington, among others.
Reason For Hope
This team has a lot of young talent that the Cougars really began to develop at the end of this season. There could very well be some growing pains early, but I can see Washington State competing for a conference championship in 2012-13. Imagine a starting lineup of Reggie Moore, DaVonte Lacy, Brock Motum, Demarquise Johnson, and Richard Peters. Then, imagine a second group of Mike Ladd, Royce Woolridge, D.J. Shelton, Jordan Tebbutt, and Steven Bjornstad. With those ten taking up most of the minutes, Bone would have by far his most talented roster in his tenure in Pullman.
Reason For Concern
The loss of Capers and Aden will really sting the Cougars early on in 2012-13, and Lacy wasn’t always exactly Mr. consistency this year. And if Johnson and Peters are academic casualties, then boom, three of my dream starting five is blown to pieces.
B. After losing DeAngelo Casto and Klay Thompson, a return to the NIT was a bit of a stretch expectations-wise. The Cougars were able to earn a bid to the CBI, and they won four games against solid teams before dropping a pair of hard-fought games at Pittsburgh.