Pac-12 Team Preview: Washington State Cougars

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 23rd, 2013

Today we continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Washington State Cougars

Strengths. What this Washington State team lacks in talent, it makes up with effort and outside shooting ability. The Cougars feature a solid backcourt, headlined by a pair of juniors who will share duties at the one and two. Royce Woolridge and DaVonte Lacy both averaged double figure scoring last season, and true freshman Ike Iroegbu out of Oak Hill Academy (VA) will add some depth, but may not be able to be counted on right away. The challenge will be finding a good distributor for the trio. Junior point guard Danny Lawhorn, the nation’s leader in assists last year at San Jacinto Junior College, was supposed to be that guy, but he left Washington State two weeks ago after being suspended for a violation of team rules in late September.

woolridge

Woolridge’s Ability To Score Either On The Drive Or From Three Gives Head Coach Ken Bone Flexibility In The Backcourt. (Getty Images)

Weaknesses. Like I said above, this team has a serious lack of talent. The Cougars only won 13 games last year, and that was with guys like Brock Motum and Mike Ladd on the roster. The four and five spots will be the weakest for Washington State, as head coach Ken Bone will have a tough time finding players who can consistently produce. They will rely on Iowa State transfer and Beaverton, Oregon, product Jordan Railey at center, and senior D.J. Shelton returns to start at power forward. Former walk-on Will Dilorio will see a lot of time at the three, and that should give you an idea of just how thin the Cougars are up front.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Washington State Post-Mortem

Posted 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.

Mike Ladd Was One Of Three Backcourt Players To Step Up In The Absence of Reggie Moore (Dean Hare, AP Photo)

Mike Ladd Was One Of Three Backcourt Players To Step Up In The Absence of Reggie Moore (Dean Hare, AP Photo)

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 01.29.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 29th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. It was an ugly night in Salt Lake City Sunday night. Aside from a “full-on winter storm” that slammed into the area (in advance of another one yesterday and today), the Utah basketball team laid an egg in front of a small crowd limited by that storm. But afterwards, head coach Larry Krystkowiak had no problem finding plenty of heat. He noted that his team got their “butts kicked in every phase of the game” and promised that, regardless of what happens the rest of the way, “the one thing we’re going to do for the rest of the season is play hard.” But, as Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, with one conference win and 10 games remaining in which the Utes will be underdogs in just about all of them (they’ll likely be favored in their second-to-last game of the year at home against Oregon State), there is some question as to whether the team can match last year’s conference win total of three.
  2. As ugly of a day as it was in SLC, there was plenty to be happy about in Eugene as Oregon found itself in the AP Top 10 for the first time since 2007. That year, after starting 18-1, the Ducks lost six of their next eight games before righting the ship just in time for March and reeling off nine straight victories en route to a Pac-12 Tournament championship and an Elite Eight appearance behind Aaron Brooks, Bryce Taylor, Maarty Leunen and Tajuan Porter. Current head coach Dana Altman could use that midseason slide as a lesson to this year’s team, as he is already cautioning his team against getting too high on themselves. With the trip to the Bay Area schools coming up this week, the Ducks’ chances of maintaining its undefeated conference record are pretty slim. It has been 37 seasons since UO last swept a trip to Stanford and Cal, and in the interim, the team has itself been swept 20 times on the Bay Area swing.
  3. With about five minutes left in regulation in its Pac-12 opener against Arizona, Colorado had all sorts of people talking about this team as not only a Pac-12 title contender but also a force on the national stage. Well, we all know what happened after that. And, for some time afterward, the Buffaloes still seemed to be in a funk. Over the next five games, the team went 2-3 and scored just 0.94 points per possession as their offensive efficiency disappeared. But, this past week back at home against those same Bay Area schools that Oregon has to deal with this week, the Buffs found a way to again put the ball back in the hoop. Their PPP jumped to 1.09 and, with balanced scoring, this team looked like that team way back then that had everybody enthralled with their potential.
  4. If you’ve followed the Pac-12 closely at any point, whether in football or basketball or, the assumption is, wrestling or softball, you’ve heard the complaints about Pac-12 referees. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve got friends that use the term “Pac-12 refs” to mean anything negative. For instance: “Man, I shouldn’t have had that last drink last night. My hangover was so bad, I had to Pac-12 ref before breakfast.” Or: “You should have seen my back yard after that wind storm; it was Pac-12 refs all over the place.” Where am I going with this? Not quite sure, but the Pac-12 refs struck again on Saturday in the Oregon State/Washington State game, according to Kevin Hampton of the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Craig Robinson certainly didn’t appreciate the effort, picking up a technical early in the second half and, frankly, getting away with a pretty decent verbal assault on one of the refs (if you read lips, you dig) while still being allowed to remain in his seat for the remainder of the game.
  5. Lastly, yesterday we picked Washington State’s Mike Ladd as our Pac-12 Player of the Week. Well, more to the point, I picked him, as two of my colleagues went the Carrick Felix route, only to be overruled (mostly because I was asleep by the time I got their votes). The conference agreed with them, however (and I can hardly blame any of them – Felix was awesome this week), as they awarded Felix the official Pac-12 POTW honor yesterday for the third time this season. Looking back on it, given the fact that Felix double-doubled in both games this weekend, averaged 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and (the biggest strike of all against our – errrrr, my – choice), hasn’t been chosen by RTC as Player of the Week even once this year, makes his omission pretty egregious. I’ll take the blame. But really, did anyone watch Mike Ladd against the Oregon schools this week?
Share this story

Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week 11

Posted by AMurawa on January 28th, 2013

With another week in the books, here are this week’s Pac-12 top performers…

Team of the Week – Arizona State

It’s not just the 2-0 record on the week – both Oregon and Colorado also scored a couple of home wins this week – but the way the Sun Devils did it, that earns them this nod. ASU started off the week by engaging in one of the conference’s most thrilling games of the season as they battled USC long and hard, basically having to beat them twice, before coming away with a 98-93 overtime win. They dodged insanely good career efforts by both Jio Fontan and J.T. Terrell, including increasingly improbable three-pointers down the stretch, but came away with the victory. Then on Saturday, the Sun Devils dominated UCLA from start to finish, getting excellent performances from up and down their roster, with Jordan Bachynski punishing the UCLA interior to the tune of 22 points, 15 boards and six blocks, Carrick Felix double-doubling for the second time in a week, Evan Gordon flashing his scoring ability from the wing, and Jahii Carson once again turning in a masterful performance as the floor general. While there were plenty of doubters following the Sun Devils’ mediocre non-conference slate, they have definitely at this point worked their way into NCAA Tournament contention.

Mike Ladd Has Broken Out Of His Offensive Shell In The Past Month (Dean Hare, AP Photo)

Mike Ladd Has Broken Out Of His Offensive Shell In The Past Month (Dean Hare, AP Photo)

Player of the Week – Mike Ladd, Washington State

After averaging nearly double-figures over his two seasons at Fresno State, Ladd slid into a role as a tough defender and offensive afterthought in his first season at Washington State. But this year, with incumbent point guard Reggie Moore dismissed from the team prior to the season and with second-option-to-be Davonte Lacy hamstrung by injury, he has not only taken over plenty of lead guard duties, but he has quietly emerged as the Cougs’ Robin to Brock Motum’s Batman. After scoring in double figures in just eight of his first 38 outings at WSU, Ladd has now reached that mark in eight straight games. And Saturday night against Oregon State, Ladd set a new career high for the second time in as many weeks; this time it was 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field, with six boards mixed in there for good measure.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 01.17.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 17th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Since the firing of Kevin O’Neill on Monday morning, coaches on the hot seat are on the minds of many around the conference. Bud Withers of The Seattle Times points to Craig Robinson, Johnny Dawkins and Ken Bone as the three remaining Pac-12 coaches most likely to be relieved of their duties following the season, and one of the factors that could play a part in their departures is the relative disinterest of the fan bases, especially at Stanford and Washington State, where small crowds have become a theme. Of note is that Ben Howland is missing from Withers’ list, but rest assured, barring a deep run in the NCAA Tournament (meaning at least past the first weekend), Howland’s position will be reevaluated once the season ends.
  2. Continuing to mine that O’Neill theme, the Arizona Daily Wildcat has a piece about how the state of UA basketball could have been much different had previous events turned out differently. To begin with, O’Neill was the interim head coach at Arizona when Lute Olson took his leave of absence in 2007-08, and, were it not for a change of heart on Olson’s part, the plan was to make O’Neill the head man when Olson retired. When that plan fell through, O’Neill wound up free to take the USC job when Tim Floyd abruptly resigned in the wake of recruiting allegations. And, in that whole regime change, guys who had been committed to USC, namely Derrick Williams and Momo Jones, wound up de-committing and instead enrolling at Arizona, became key cogs in the 2011 Elite Eight team. Solomon Hill was also at one point committed to Tim Floyd and USC, but he backed out of that and switched his allegiance to Arizona prior to the coaching change. In short, were it not for a couple simple twists of fate involving O’Neill, the present face of Arizona basketball would look significantly different.
  3. Aside from that, you know, we actually had some games in the conference tonight. Where Wednesday games were sort of a one-off rivalry-game-only type of thing in the past, these are a regular occurrence every week this year. It takes some getting used to, sure, but really, basketball spread out more evenly through the week? I ain’t complaining. Washington State kicked things off last night by raining down fire from deep on Utah on the way to the Cougs’ first conference win of the season. Coug Center’s got your round-up of all the action, including Mike Ladd’s career night. It’s worth noting that Ladd is starting to pick up the pace offensively and it is he, rather than more popular possibilities like DaVonte Lacy or Royce Woolridge, who has stepped up as the second option on this team behind Brock Motum. Ladd has now scored in double figures in five straight games, averaging better than 16 points per night over that span.
  4. As Sabatino Chen’s desperation three-pointer banked in at the buzzer at the end of Colorado’s conference opener, it appeared that the Buffaloes were ready to be a serious contender for the Pac-12 title. Almost literally since that exact moment, not much has gone right for CU. Moments later, that shot was perhaps erroneously waved off. Soon thereafter the Buffs folded in overtime of that game. And since that night, they’ve proceeded to drop three of their next four, stumbling to a 1-4 conference start, including last night’s 10-point loss at Washington. But, while Colorado gets much of the attention for their sudden failures, the Huskies are out to a surprising 4-0 conference start. But, as Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times notes, while past Husky teams have made their mark with style and flair, this vintage of UW is getting it done with grit, hustle and smarts. And, perhaps not coincidentally, they’re overachieving this year, as opposed to their almost annual recent underachievements.
  5. Lastly, on a day that wasn’t all that great for Oregon sports, there was bad news for the basketball program as well when it came to light that the prep school that 2013 recruit Cristiano Felicio is currently attending may be under scrutiny for its legitimacy as an educational institution. And, the crazy part about this story is that may not be the worst part about it. Aside from possibly being little more than a scam perpetrated on talented basketball players, the president of the school is under investigation for physically abusing some of the schools players by subjecting them to “hands and feet bound with zip ties” and “clothes pins attached to their nipples.” Yikes.
Share this story

Scouting the Pac: Jordan Bachynski and Mike Ladd

Posted by AMurawa on December 17th, 2012

Occasionally this season, we’ll take a brief spin around the conference and take a look at some players, teams and trends that have caught our eye over the course of recent games.

Jordan Bachynski – Let’s get right to what he does really well: blocking shots. The 7’2” junior is currently second in the nation with 53 blocked shots this season and he’s currently swatting roughly 18% of all of his opponents’ two-pointers. Before you explain away all of those blocked shots with his height, understand that there are more than a couple of seven-footers around the nation with no such luck. Washington’s Aziz N’Diaye, for example, is a seven-footer, with inarguably more athleticism than Bachynski, and he’s only blocking about 4% of opponents’ two-pointers. No, Bachynski has plenty of the tools that make a great shot-blocker, aside from just the obvious physical traits: He’s got great timing, keeps plenty of space between offensive players and himself, and, when he recognizes a shot, closes quickly. Sure, the majority of his early swats are against smaller players from lesser conferences (against Arkansas, Creighton and DePaul, the three most talented teams ASU has played, he’s blocked just six combined shots; he’s blocked at least six in five other games), but he’ll likely still lead the Pac-12 in swats in conference play. Even better news for the Sun Devils is that they are regularly gaining possession of the ball after Bachynski’s blocked shots; per ASU, only six of his 53 blocks have gone out of bounds and 32 times the Sun Devils have been able to secure the ball after the block. Normally, a prolific shot-blocker gets himself out of position on the defensive glass by going after the swats, but Bachynski has done a good job of not only blocking shots but recovering in time to grab better than 21% of all defensive rebound opportunities, although that number, too, has dipped against quality competition and will dip again come conference play.

Jordan Bachynski's Shotblocking and Rebounding Numbers Will Dip Some In Conference Play, But He's Still A Major Positive For the Sun Devils

Jordan Bachynski’s Shotblocking and Rebounding Numbers Will Dip Some In Conference Play, But He’s Still A Major Positive For the Sun Devils

Offensively, he’s still a work in progress, but he is continually improving. He’s got a solid jump hook around the rim, he runs the floor pretty well in transition, and he does a halfway decent job of getting on the offensive glass, especially for a team that doesn’t spend a lot of energy trying to rebound on that end. His biggest problem offensively, and one that is likely to persist, is the fact that he’s a little soft. Against Sacramento State, there was one sequence where he was rejected not once, but twice, by a smaller guy inside the semi-circle. Now, I’m not sure who that Sac State player was who made that play, but looking up and down their roster, I don’t see a guy who is within a half-foot in height of Bachynski. That’s a relatively unforgivable sin. The other issue he is continuing to have is his free throw shooting. Last year he finished the season well from the line, hitting better than 70% in the last 10 games. This year, his free throw shooting has dropped back down under 60%. It’s still an improvement over the 55% he shot over the course of last year (and that was including that 70% run down the stretch), but his struggles there allow opponents to be physical with him and risk sending him to the line. All told, Bachynski has made great strides over his career and is still going to be an effective player for the Sun Devils in conference play, but don’t expect triple-doubles once the level of competition spikes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5:11.08.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 8th, 2012

  1. Pac-12 basketball exhibition games are generally meaningless affairs where a big school beats up on an overmatched foe while the former’s head coach tinkers around with different lineups and different styles. Usually the Pac-12 team wins going away and no one loses too much sleep about the result one way or the other. Still, valuable information can be gleaned from some of these games: Which returnee has made the biggest strides, which of the newcomers can make an impact early in their careers, and who is getting passed up for playing time? For Arizona, with three new and talented freshman big men, sophomore forward Angelo Chol is battling for a spot in the lineup and he’s had some struggles in the team’s two exhibitions. He’s missed some point-blank shots and has lost some confidence, but head coach Sean Miller is still relying on him to earn minutes while senior leader Solomon Hill is doing his best to keep Chol’s head in the game. Hill, on the other hand, was nearly flawless in his latest outing against Chico State (an Arizona win, 98-60) , with only a late missed free throw and a single turnover as blemishes on his performance.
  2. We’ve all got our favorite Pac-12 blogs, but one of my personal favorites is Coug Center. There are times when it seems like you’ve got to hunt down information about Washington State, and over the years I’ve found Coug Center to be by far the best place to keep up to date with all things WSU. While football is still king there (and a lot of other places) for the time being, Kyle Sherwood, Jeff Nusser and Craig Powers did a great job running down their thoughts on the upcoming season. In light of the Reggie Moore dismissal, topic number one was who will play point guard and they’ve got no better answer than anyone else, other than the fact that Royce Woolridge, DaVonte Lacy and Mike Ladd are going to be forced into a lot of minutes and a point guard-by-committee situation. Who knows, it could work, but just remembering Arizona State last year without any real point guard leaves plenty of room for doubt.
  3. We’ve talked in the past about Utah’s complete remaking of its roster, and there is little doubt that Larry Krystkowiak has upped the talent level there. But with many other programs around the conference improved as well, the question remains whether his new roster will result in additional wins. Based on a ridiculously week non-conference schedule, one would hope the Utes would be able to notch at least six wins prior to conference play, but can they improve on last year’s three Pac-12 wins? Many around the conference are picking Utah at the back of the pack — they were 12th in the preseason Pac-12 poll — but with capable offensive players like Jarred DuBois, Aaron Dotson and Jordan Loveridge as well as a deeper bench than the Utes have had in a couple of years, you can probably expect their improved talent to be reflected in their final record, even if they’re still almost certainly doomed to a lower-division finish.
  4. Back on the recruiting trail, UCLA landed three-star wing Noah Allen in the Class of 2013 on Tuesday. A one-time Harvard commitment, Allen certainly isn’t the type of player that head coach Ben Howland landed last year — Scout.com recruiting guru Evan Daniels calls him “a four-year guy” who is more of a long-term project than an immediate impact player. Interestingly enough, apparently Howland made the offer without ever having seen Allen play in person. We’re guessing that there won’t be any eligibility concerns with this prospect roughly a year from now.
  5. Lastly, we’ll hop across town where USC head coach Kevin O’Neill has named junior J.T. Terrell as the starter at the two-guard, beating out returning starter Byron Wesley for the job. Wesley is still expected to get plenty of run, both in relief of Terrell and at the other wing spot, but, man, sometimes the things that O’Neill says just makes you shake your head in disbelief. “He’s finally starting to play hard,” said O’Neill, inferring that for the longest time, Terrell wasn’t playing hard. O’Neill then went on to say that Terrell is “more intelligent than I thought he was.” Goodness. It makes you wonder if O’Neill thought he was complimenting the transfer player, or if he was going out of his way to get a few jabs in his ribs. Terrell’s certainly a talented offensive player, but you know in order to play for K.O.’s Trojans, you’ve got to be committed to give good effort on the defensive end. I would suspect Terrell’s defensive intensity, or lack thereof, is where these latest back-handed compliments stem from.
Share this story

Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington State Cougars

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Washington State Cougars.

Strengths: This category starts and ends with senior forward Brock Motum. The Australian lefty led the Pac-12 in scoring in 2011-12 and took home the title of most improved player in the conference, but it will be interesting to see how he performs without the team’s best guard to draw some attention on the perimeter. Motum was able to handle just about any big man in league play last year, taking opponents both inside and out. He became famous for some incredible, off-balance jumpers, reminiscent of Dirk Nowitzki with some of his shots. With the dismissal of Reggie Moore, Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge will start the year at combo guard. Big things are expected of the former Jayhawk, who may just be the best shooter Washington State can put on the roster.

Weaknesses: Behind Motum and Woolridge, it’s tough to look at the Cougars and point out a guy that oozes confidence. Sure, guys like DaVonté Lacy and D.J. Shelton are solid athletes, but it’s going to be a long year when you’re counting on them for big-time production. Ken Bone does have some interesting newcomers to play around with, but what roles they fit into and how much they can immediately contribute will be tough to figure out. Gillette Junior College transfer James Hunter looks to be a banger that will start the year at power forward, but the Cougs are awfully thin after that for someone who can bang on the glass. Shelton and Hunter better not be on the bench at the same time, because things could get ugly down there for Wazzu.

James Hunter (15) Will Have To Avoid The Bench In 2012-13 For The Cougars To Have A Rebounding Presence In The Post (credit: Gillette College)

Non-Conference Tests: The Cougars will face four stiff non-conference tests this season, three of which will all come in a row away from home in late November. Washington State will travel to Malibu to face Pepperdine on November 16, and while the Waves might struggle this season, not many teams venture into Firestone Fieldhouse and come out with an easy win. Just three days later the Cougars will go into the Sprint Center and play a top 5 Kansas squad in front of what will be a 99% Jayhawk-friendly crowd. Less than 24 hours later they’ll play on the same court against either Saint Louis or Texas A&M, two teams that are at least NIT locks this season. Finally, the Cougs get a three game reprieve before having to take on in-state rival Gonzaga on December 5 in Pullman.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Washington State Week: What To Expect

Posted 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.

Motum Will Lead The Cougars In Scoring For The Second Straight Year

WSU’s Leading ScorerBrock 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 MVPRoyce 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story