Washington State Week: Q&A With CougCenter

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 5th, 2012

As part of our Washington State week, we wanted to reach out to the guys at CougCenter for their takes on the upcoming Cougar basketball season. Kyle Sherwood was kind enough to spend some time with us and give us his thoughts.

Rush The Court: How do the Cougars plan on replacing players like Marcus Capers, Abe Lodwick, and Faisal Aden?

CougCenter: Easier than you’d think. Capers, Lodwick and Aden were all high-character guys and great team leaders, but for the most part they were all one-dimensional  players. Those players meant a lot to WSU, but I think this current roster is the first one that really fits into how Ken Bone wants to play. The 2012-13 team is loaded with athletic wings who can create space and hit shots from long-range, so we’re going to replace those guys by running…and running…and running..?

Look For The Fast Cougars To Have Many Transition Opportunities That End With Dunks (credit: Stephen Dunn)

RTC: CBI time! Washington State played four games in three different tough road environments (well, as tough as CBI crowds can get), and ended the tournament with a 4-2 record and runner-up finish. Overall, was this a good experience for the team?

CC: Well, Capers and Lodwick meant so much to the program that it was worth playing as long as they wanted to keep going. The team had really turned a corner around the beginning of February, but it wasn’t showing up in the win column. When they started advancing in the CBI, it wasn’t just that they were winning, it was how dominating they looked. It was nice for the players to see the work they had put in to turn their season around pay off with such lopsided scores. I think we all would’ve liked a tournament win (because you know WSU would hang a flippin’ CBI banner), but the team got what it needed from its success in the first four games.

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Washington State Week: Kansas Transfer Leads Large Set Of Newcomers

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 4th, 2012

On the heels of last-year’s CBI runner-up season, Ken Bone welcomes in eight newcomers, headed by Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge. The eight newcomers will no doubt ease the blow of losing three “team first” guys, but sometimes talent can’t make up for chemistry. We’ll break all eight of them down below, roughly in the order of the contributions we expect from them.

Royce Woolridge, Sophomore, Guard, 6’3” 175 lbs, Kansas – Woolridge received pure garbage minutes in his freshman year at Kansas (0.9 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 0.6 APG in 2.8 MPG), with his best game coming in his first one – six points, two rebounds, and two assists in eight minutes against Longwood. It was an uphill fight from there, and by season’s end Woolridge decided a transfer was necessary. He chose Washington State, a place where he could study Faisal Aden’s game — one much like his own — in the mandatory sit-out season, then fill his role after Aden leaves. Like the departing sharpshooter, Woolridge is a “fill-it-up” type of scorer, meaning he needs to shoot the ball to get his points. That will be fine with Cougar fans if he can make those shots consistently. He will also bring the physical, explosive, nose-for-the-ball mentality that Marcus Capers left behind. Described by coaches and teammates as the best player on the practice floor last season, everyone is anxious to see what he’ll bring to the table once the bright lights are shining.

Woolridge’s Explosiveness Off The Dribble Will Have Opponents Scrambling This Season (credit: Jerry Wang)

Demarquise Johnson, Freshman, Shooting Guard, 6’5” 190 lbs, Westwind Prep Academy, Phoenix, AZ – Johnson hails from the central Arizona power Westwind Prep. While primarily a shooting guard, Johnson is very explosive off the dribble and can slash and score with ease inside the paint, something the Cougars have been missing the past few seasons. That being said, his intensity and on-court toughness does draw some question marks. If he is going to earn major minutes as a freshman in the rotation, Johnson needs to move better without the ball instead of just waiting for it to come to him. This kid is a legitimate player that will surely make an impact by the time he’s done in Pullman. After all, he didn’t earn offers from UNLV, Gonzaga, and Washington for nothing.

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Washington State Week: Running Down The Returnees

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 2nd, 2012

Washington State returns four players who were part of the rotation last year, highlighted by Brock Motum – a preseason candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year – but also extending down to a guard that is back for his senior season after leading the team in minutes per game, a sophomore shooting guard primed to build off a solid freshman campaign, and yet another guard who will probably enjoy a similar role to what he saw last year. We’ll go through all of those guys below, in order of last year’s scoring totals.

Brock Motum Will Be The Key To Any Cougar Success In 2012-13

Brock Motum, Senior, Forward (18.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.4 BPG) – After a quiet first two seasons at Washington State, Motum exploded onto the scene in 2012-13. The junior forward took on the minutes left by departing senior DeAngelo Casto, and he showed the Cougar coaching staff immediately what he could do with them. From the very beginning of the year, he introduced a new style of game to the team’s offense. Motum led the team in scoring in the Cougars’ first two games, dropping 17 in a nationally televised contest at Gonzaga, and 23 in their second game against Sacramento State. He took on a “point-center” type role, one where the big man could handle the ball up top and act as a triple threat against opponents. His ability to drive and hit a pull-up jumper made him one of the toughest forwards to defend in the Pac-12, evident by his 18.0 PPG, the conference’s best. Not only a threat to score, but also a force on the glass, Motum pulled down a very respectable 6.4 RPG. Those two feats combined earned him the title of “Most Improved Player” in the Pac-12. Some of Motum’s critics will say he took a lot of defenses by surprise last season, but the truth is, the Cougars were just a tough team to defend. With Faisal Aden and Reggie Moore able to score the ball consistently, Motum was bound to get a few extra looks a game. And he took advantage, making him one of the deadliest players in the league.

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Washington State Week: Players Not Returning

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 31st, 2012

Seven players earned significant playing time for the Cougars in 2011-12, and three of those will be gone next season. Of those three, each has used up his eligibility and at least one will get an opportunity to play professionally somewhere or another. Gone is Washington State’s second-leading scorer and top shot-blocker along with a big man who could be very effective on the boards at times. With only one incoming recruit who is likely to make an immediate impact, head coach Ken Bone will have a tough time early on replacing the shooting ability and athletic presence provided by those three players. Below we’ll take a look at who will be missed the most and who can step in to make the transition easier.

Capers’ Athleticism And Ability To Handle The Ball Made Him Valuable As Both A Guard And Defender

Marcus Capers – Capers was a fan favorite on the Palouse. While he wasn’t the most prolific of scorers, he was one of the top shooters from the field. However, his main contribution to the team’s success came on defense. Capers was by far the most athletic player on the roster, and he proved it by leading the squad in blocks and coming in second in rebounding last season. Some of Capers’ biggest games as a Cougar came at the end of his career as the combo guard averaged 5.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 3.5 APG in Washington State’s six CBI contests.

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Washington State: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted 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.

Coach Ken Bone wished he could have cut down the nets again after a CBI Championship, but advancing to the three-game championship series of a postseason tournament was still a solid way to end the season. (credit: Don Ryan)

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.

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Pac-12 Honors: Week 11

Posted by AMurawa on January 23rd, 2012

Team of the Week

Washington State – There are really three choices here, as Colorado, Oregon and Washington State all went 2-0 this weekend while homestanding. While the Colorado and Oregon performances are arguably more important in terms of the conference race (since each keeps up the pace with just two conference losses), the Cougars’ sweep of the Bay Area school is more impressive. We’ll get to Faisal Aden’s heroics shortly, but the two wins on the Palouse were very much team wins. Brock Motum averaged 15.5 points and eight rebounds per game while being ridiculously efficient; Reggie Moore seems to be buying into his role as point guard, handing out seven assists on Saturday despite failing to score; and guys like DaVonte Lacy, Abe Lodwick and Marcus Capers all made significant contributions to the wins. And, let’s not forget head coach Ken Bone, who was still making adjustments and keeping his team’s attention despite a 1-4 conference start.

Faisal Aden, Washington State

Faisal Aden's Big Weekend Helped Washington State Sweep The Bay Area Schools (photo credit: Dean Hare, AP)

Player of the Week

Faisal Aden, Sr, Washington State – It wasn’t all that long ago that we were killing Aden for taking 37% of his team’s shots. Yet, this weekend he hoisted 41.2% of WSU’s field goal attempts, and in doing so he dragged his team across the finish line in both games. Thursday night against Stanford, Aden missed four of his first six FGAs, including misses on all three of his three-pointers. Over the rest of the weekend, Aden never shot from behind the arc, converted 17 of his 23 remaining field goal attempts and got to the line 18 times. For the weekend he averaged 28.5 points per outing, made 65.5% of his field goal attempts and posted a true shooting percentage (which includes his scoring from the line) of 75.4%. In short, while Aden’s usage numbers went through the roof, he was very efficient. It remains to be seen whether or not he can keep it up, but for one weekend at least, Aden was spectacular.

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76 Classic Notes From Day One

Posted by AMurawa on November 25th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences and a Pac-12 microsite staffer. This week he’s checking on the eight teams at the 76 Classic in Anaheim with some thoughts…

While the old tradition about Thanksgiving Day and football going together like turkey and mashed potatoes is all well and good, college hoops fans know that Thanksgiving week has fast become a smorgasbord of hoops action as well. Thursday night after some turkey and fixings with the family, I got a chance to dig into the basketball buffet a bit at the 76 Classic with a pair of intriguing games: New Mexico/Santa Clara and Oklahoma/Washington State. While I’ve had a chance to catch WSU and UNM on TV a couple of times, this was my first real good chance to get to know these teams. Here are my thoughts on what I saw Thursday night.

Drew Gordon, New Mexico

Drew Gordon Is Just One Lobo Who Has Yet To Get On Track This Year

The big question mark for New Mexico coming into the season was how they would go about replacing point guard Dairese Gary, who graduated last season. Junior Jamal Fenton had served as Gary’s understudy for a couple of years, but at 5’9”, he can be a liability on the defensive end. Well, after four games I think we can safely say that UNM has its point guard – and it’s not Fenton. Freshman Hugh Greenwood, a 6’3” native of Australia, saw the majority of the minutes at the point Thursday night (he played 33 minutes, Fenton just 16) and scored 14 points, handed out three assists and never turned the ball over. “I thought he was tremendous,” said head coach Steve Alford. “He has, like a lot of guys, some things he has to do better defensively but he competed and ran our team well.” However, as solid as Greenwood was, the Lobos still are having trouble getting Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year Drew Gordon, or even MW preseason all-conference player Kendall Williams, on track. Gordon scored 11 points and added ten rebounds on Thursday, but did so in a below-the-radar way, while Williams scored just six points and was repeatedly exposed defensively by Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster. In the Lobos two losses so far this season, Williams and Gordon area combined 2/25 from the field. ““We had some guys, very similar to the New Mexico State game, where there was just no production and we’re not good enough for that,” said Alford in a clear reference to his two stars. “We’ve got to have production from guys who are supposed to produce.”

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.09.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 9th, 2011

  1. Washington State heads into this season with lower-than-normal expectations after the departures of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto. Thompson and Casto were arguably the best two players on the roster a year ago, so this season the Cougars will need to rely on experience and chemistry if they are to return to a major postseason tournament. If they are to make the NIT or NCAAs, it will be because of their guard play. Marcus Capers and Reggie Moore both return in the backcourt, and with the additions of Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd and freshmen DaVonte Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew, the Cougars feel like they can go up against any group of guards in the nation. Washington State’s season will get underway next Monday night when they take on Gonzaga in Spokane [ed. update: head coach Ken Bone said Tuesday that Moore is questionable for Monday’s game with a groin injury].
  2. Three regular season games have already tipped off across the nation, but the season doesn’t officially start at most places until Friday. That means the previews are still rolling out, including this look at each Pac-12 team and the best players in the conference. They have California guard Jorge Gutierrez and UCLA center Joshua Smith highlighting the first All Pac-12 team, while Oregon guard E.J. Singler and California forward Harper Kamp highlight the second. The All-Freshman Team includes four guards, highlighted by Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Washington’s Tony Wroten, Jr.
  3. Bakersfield High (CA) combo guard Tyrone Wallace committed to California on Monday, and in this interview with Jim McGill he talks about his decision. “I’m going to play the one and two, play combo,” says Wallace. “It depends on whatever we need. I’m versatile so Coach (Mike) Montgomery said they’d play me where I’d fit best at any given time.” Wallace is a four-star recruit coming out of high school and could see some major minutes next season with Gutierrez graduating. Wallace was down to Cal and Colorado before his commitment.
  4. Not only did Utah lose a game last Friday night, but they also lost a pair of key players for several weeks. The biggest loss was to starting center David Foster, who is out indefinitely after a foot injury. “We need Dave,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said after the game. “When Dave went down, it put us in a little bit of a whirlwind.” The Utes have also lost junior shooting guard Chris Hines to a rib injury. The designated “sixth man” of the team will be out three weeks. The injuries mean that the Utes will only have eight scholarship players for their first six games of the year. Expect them to struggle mightily.
  5. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins is hoping that the meaningful minutes most of his freshman played last year will translate into victories this season. While Dawkins knows that the majority of his team is still mostly sophomores (seven of them, to be exact), the Cardinal doesn’t have much of a choice. If players like forward Dwight Powell, guard/forward Anthony Brown, and center Stefan Nastic all have big years and get some help from senior center Josh Owens, this team could be on the rise again.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington State

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 7th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

Washington State Cougars

Strengths.  The Cougars return four starters from last year’s NIT Final Four team in junior guard Reggie Moore, senior guard Marcus Capers, and senior forward Abe Lodwick. However, the biggest contributions could come from the three incoming guards, Mike Ladd, DaVonte Lacy, and Dexter Kernich-Drew. Those three will be needed at the two guard since both Moore and Capers will be at the point. Coming into the season as a Top 50 shooting guard, Lacy is the star of the group. In their exhibition on Saturday against Lewis-Clark State, Lacy proved his value with a 21-point performance. The frontcourt will be held down by Lodwick (when he returns from a left foot injury), junior power forward Brock Motum, and junior center Steven Bjornstad. With Motum and Bjornstad at 6’10” and 6’11”, respectively, opposing defenses will have trouble matching up in the post.

Lacy has proved early on that he is the go-to guy at shooting guard

Weaknesses.  The Cougars lost two of their three best players from last year in forward DeAngleo Casto and guard Klay Thompson. Those two accounted for 45% of the 2010-11 Wazzu offense. The team will be tested early on with six of their first nine games away from Pullman. For a team that is looking to rreutrn to the NIT, that is a very tough start.

Nonconference Tests.  The Cougars have a relatively easy OOC slate, with only three games that should really challenge them. The first is their regular season opener at Gonzaga. The game will be played at 9:00 PM PST and is the first game of ESPN’s annual 25-Hour Tipoff Marathon. The next challenges will come in the second and third rounds of the 76 Classic down in Anaheim during Thanksgiving weekend. On Nov. 25 they will most likely meet New Mexico in the semifinals, and on Nov. 27 a championship meeting with Villanova looks to be in the cards.

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RTC Conference Primers: #6 – Pac-12

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 1st, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences as well as a Pac-12 microsite staffer. You can find him on Twitter @AMurawa.

Reader’s Take I

With only two of the ten players named to last year’s All-Pac-10 team returning, the race for the conference player of the year is wide open.


Top Storylines

  • Twelve Is The New Ten: After 33 seasons, college basketball fans on the west coast are getting used to calling their conference the Pac-12. With Colorado and Utah along for the ride (and currently taking their lumps in football), gone are the days of the home-and-away round-robin schedule on the basketball side of things. But lest the traditionalists complain too much, it could have been much different, as schools from Oklahoma and Texas (obviously the very definition of “Pacific” states) flirted with changing their allegiance for the second consecutive year before heading back to the Big 12.
  • Fresh Blood: As mentioned above in our poll question, the conference loses eight of the ten players on last year’s all-Pac-10 team, with just Jorge Gutierrez of Cal and UCLA’s Reeves Nelson returning. In other words, it is time for a new set of players to step up and take the reins of the league. The most likely candidates are a talented group of freshman guards – names like Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson at Arizona, Tony Wroten, Jr. at Washington, Jabari Brown at Oregon, Norman Powell at UCLA and Chasson Randle at Stanford.

Jorge Gutierrez Is A Lightning Rod Of A Guard For Mike Montgomery's Golden Bears, And Big Things Are Expected.

  • The Carson Show On Hold. A seventh highly-touted freshman guard, however, is stuck in limbo. Arizona State’s Jahii Carson has yet to be cleared for practice while an investigation continues into an online course the 5’10” point guard took this summer at Adams State in Colorado. That school has yet to release his course transcript, and until that happens, Carson is unable to practice with the Sun Devils, making an already difficult situation (being regarded as a savior for a team coming off a 12-19 campaign) even worse.
  • Hard Times for Kevin Parrom: Sometimes, just when everything is going well, life conspires to deal you a set of circumstances that just suck. It’s not bad enough that Parrom took a couple of bullets on September 24 during a home invasion, while in the Bronx visiting his sick mother. But on October 16, Parrom’s mom then passed away after a long battle with cancer. While both incidents will have lasting effects on Parrom, the bullet wounds are the biggest obstacle to him getting back on the court, with bullet fragments lodged in his right leg, a boot on his right foot, nerve damage and his left hand currently wrapped up to protect lacerations sustained in the attack. Parrom is rehabilitating his injuries and as of this writing, no hard timetable is set for his return. But if anybody is due for a good break or two, Parrom’s the guy. Get well soon, Kevin.

Predicted Order of Finish

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