Washington State Sinks or Swims With DaVonte Lacy’s OffensePosted by Kenny Ocker on December 8th, 2013
Kenny Ocker is a RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Washington State-Idaho game Saturday night in Moscow, Idaho.
For better or for worse, the Washington State Cougars are DaVonte Lacy’s team. The junior shooting guard from Tacoma, Washington, is one of the most efficient high-usage players in the country, and the cast surrounding him in Pullman is unspectacular offensively. In fact, Lacy, who plays 85 percent of the available minutes, is the only WSU player seeing more than 20 MPG who has an above-average offensive rating.
Against its next door neighbor, Idaho, on Saturday night, Lacy was again carrying his teammates with 23 points already scored with 33 seconds left and the Cougars with the ball trailing 66-65. Lacy ended up with the ball in his hands on a broken play with 15 seconds left and decided to drive to the basket. He put up a contested floater and it bounced off the back iron and rolled out. But teammate D.J. Shelton – who finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds – grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled, hitting both free throws and giving the Cougars a one-point lead. When Idaho’s Connor Hill, a 44 percent three-point shooter, ended up with the ball in the left corner for a last second shot, it was Lacy who leaped out to contest it, arm stretched high into the air. The ball rimmed out and the Cougars escaped the raucous Cowan Spectrum with a 67-66 win.
Lacy excelled Saturday despite a 1-of-6 start that included an air-ball, which the crowd seized upon all game. “If I cared about what the crowd said, then I wouldn’t be who I am,” Lacy said. “I didn’t let it get to me because if you’re going to be a good player, you can’t let outside factors in.” After his cold start, Lacy was a factor from the outside. Trailing by two with four minutes in the first half, the guard snapped his slump with back-to-back three-pointers to quiet a rowdy Cowan Spectrum. And when the Vandals sneaked out to a 48-38 lead with 14 minutes left in the second half and Lacy was called for a charge, that’s when the Cougars turned the game around. Four times, Lacy hit a shot to put WSU within a basket of Idaho, starting with seven minutes to go. His first two three-pointers in the streak were pure, then he hit a layup and a dunk in transition with 3:25 on the clock. When he got fouled with under two minutes remaining, he hit both free throws to put the Cougars into the lead for the first time in nearly 20 minutes.
Cougars coach Ken Bone said it “sounds like a broken record” when he describes Lacy’s star-like play. True to form, Lacy excelled again Saturday night, making five of his last seven three-pointers after an 0-of-3 start. And that was especially necessary against a zone-heavy Vandals team that held Lacy’s teammates to a combined 4-of-20 from behind the arc. Lacy’s potent scoring has the potential to carry any team in a game, but to be able to perform throughout a loaded Pac-12 schedule, the Cougars will need more support from their role players.