Washington State Post-MortemPosted by AMurawa on April 22nd, 2013
Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Washington State.
What Went Right
Let’s first stipulate that we’re talking about a team that went 13-19 and finished tied for last place in the Pac-12 this season. Given those parameters, the Cougars actually had some big things go well for them. Mike Ladd, in his senior season, stepped into a leadership role, played out of position quite a bit at the point, and was really good; DaVonte Lacy shook off a couple injuries and a dreadful midseason slump (16-of-63 from the field in the first half of conference play) to take an overall step forward in his game; and Royce Woolridge shook off early inconsistency and lack of confidence to put together a terrific back stretch, going for 16.5 points per game over the last 12 games of the schedule. Considering Wooldridge and Lacy will be back next year and the focal points of that team, Washington State fans are able to take at least something positive away from this season.
What Went Wrong
When head coach Ken Bone dismissed senior point guard Reggie Moore just in advance of the season, you knew this team –without any obvious answers to take Moore’s place – was going to have some problems. And perhaps senior forward Brock Motum, one of the conference’s best and most efficient players in 2011-12, may have been hit the hardest. As the focal point of the offense, Motum certainly didn’t have a bad season (18.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG), but he definitely had to work a lot harder for his production without the services of a floor general to set him up in all the right spots. Bone got the best out of a bad situation, receiving point guard production from a committee including Ladd, Woolridge and Lacy, but none of those three were ever truly dialed in at the one.
I thought for a moment about going with Woolridge or Lacy, but the fact is, Brock Motum was the leader of this team all year long not only in production but in spirit too. Yeah, his shooting percentages dipped across the board, but part of the reason Lacy and Woolridge, in particular, were able to have productive offensive seasons was due to the fact that Motum drew the majority of the attention from defenses around the league.
The Cougs lose Motum and Ladd to graduation, but the expectation is that everyone else will return. It will never be easy to replace two major contributors like that, but at least these departures are no surprise – Bone should have a plan in effect to replace both. The other player heading out is freshman guard Bryce Leavitt, who will be transferring. Leavitt played a grand total of 113 minutes in his one year in Pullman and will likely wind up at a lower level program where his talents will fit more easily.
Players Coming In
Despite losing those two seniors, Bone has a lot of talent on its way. First, the point guard position should be in better shape next year, as the Cougars welcome in a pair of recruits at the one – freshman Ikenna Iroegbu and juco transfer Danny Lawhorn. Odds are Lawhorn – a true pass-first type of point – steps right into the lead guard role with Iroegbu in reserve, with Wooldridge perhaps again getting some minutes at the point as well if anything goes wrong. The backcourt will get another boost when redshirt freshman Demarquise Johnson – a partial qualifier that practiced with the team but was ineligible last season – becomes eligible. He’s one of the most anticipated incoming freshmen in recent WSU history. Then there’s Iowa State transfer Jordan Railey, who should step right into the mix at the center spot. Railey is a limited offensive player, but as the saying goes, you can’t teach height, and he’s got plenty of it – 6’11”, 250 pounds. The final newly available player for the Cougs will be freshman frontcourt player, Josh Hawkinson.
Reason for Hope
Last year was sort of the bottom of the barrel. Despite failing to make the NCAA Tournament, the Cougars had never finished below .500 under Bone. And the argument could be made that, had Moore not earned a ticket out of the program, the Cougs would have topped that mark again. With Bone having been able to go out and find reinforcements at the point guard spot, he’ll have a full complement of players; and with Woolridge and Lacy having made major strides, and with Johnson ready to contribute, there is offensive firepower at the wings.
Reason For Concern
The flip side of that argument is that since Tony Bennett left the program, the Cougars have been on a downward slide, with 2012-13 just the most recent new low. Losing their offensive focal point and having to start over with a pair of newcomers at the one could mean that 13-19 record is just the most recent low, with further steps to come.
D. Not much was expected of this team and not much was delivered, but it is hard to give anything approaching a decent grade to a team that won just 13 games.