Washington State Week: What To ExpectPosted by Connor Pelton on August 4th, 2012
We’ve gone through the Washington State roster and told you about the returnees and the newcomers, but let’s put it all together today: What does the 2012-13 season hold for the Cougars? Just how good will returnees like Reggie Moore, DaVonte Lacy, and Mike Ladd be, and which of the newcomers will emerge as major contributors? And most importantly, can these Cougs improve upon last year’s CBI appearance? Let’s break out that old crystal ball again and see what it says.
WSU’s Leading Scorer – Brock Motum. No reason we shouldn’t think the Pac-12′s leading scorer in 2011-12 wouldn’t lead his own team in his senior year. With Motum’s ability to score from anywhere on the floor and the fact that he touches the ball so many times on each possession, this is the only pick here. Even with a pair of confident newcomers like Royce Woolridge and Demarquise Johnson who will take a way some of his looks, Motum will still be the go-to guy.
WSU’s MVP – Royce Woolridge. This is a tad bold, but we don’t want to give two awards to Motum even if he may deserve it. Players and coaches called Woolridge the best player on the practice court last season, and the word out of Pullman is that he’s not afraid to shoot the ball. If he can give the Cougars 12 points a night, four rebounds, and maybe a couple steals here and there, Woolridge and Motum will make quite the one-two punch.
WSU’s Most Improved Returnee – DaVonte Lacy. As a freshman in 2011-12, Lacy showed signs of brilliance, especially early on. He averaged 10.6 PPG in the Cougars’ first 14 games, and while the offensive output started to decline once Pac-12 play got into full swing, he still had seven games in the final half of the year in which he went for double figures. With Faisal Aden gone, Lacy’s role will go from sitting out two of the usual five-minute substitution windows to just one of them. With more of a sense on where his minutes will come and an ever-increasing significance in half-court sets, Lacy is going to have a big year.
WSUs Most Impactful Newcomer – Woolridge. If he’s going to be the team MVP, Woolridge must garner the most impactful newcomer award. He should be ready to contribute 30 MPG immediately, and if he isn’t, the summer trip to Australia should cure that. His season at national power Kansas, even if he just saw spotty minutes in garbage time, should help the transition process immensely. Demarquise Johnson might come in second, but the gap is wide due to Woolridge’s experience and ability to move better without the ball. Johnson had a habit of waiting for the ball to come to him in high school, and that won’t work at the Pac-12 level.
WSU’s Conference Record/ Finish – 7-11, 9th Place. This Washington State season should be pretty similar to last year’s. Ken Bone has fallen into the habit of recruiting players who can shoot but don’t necessarily ooze athleticism. That means they’ll get killed inside against the bigger Pac-12 teams and against the more athletic teams (i.e., Arizona), but they’ll stick with the opponent yet find it tough to beat them. You could argue that they tried to change that this year by bringing in Woolridge and Johnson, but those two are still question marks. And while they might be able to answer those questions at some point during the season, it’s still August, and we can never know exactly what’s going to play out come January and February. The final seven games of the Pac-12 slate will be the most important for Wazzu. They’ll host the Oregon schools, then have a three game road trip consisting of the Arizona’s and Washington before hosting UCLA and USC to close out the season. If they can finish non-conference play with an 11-2 record (losses to Kansas and Saint Louis or Texas A&M) and win five of those final seven, the Cougars should be in line to get an NIT bid. How they fare in the first part of Pac-12 play will determine if they host in the first round or not.