It’s as foregone as conclussions come that the Washington State Basketball team was toast when Reggie Moore got kicked off the team about a month ago. In a Pac-12 that’s seeing everybody get stronger through big recruiting classes, the Cougars are thought to have gotten worse, at least this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were picked for dead last in the conference come the final preseason rankings. WSU does sport a nice group of transfers with 5, but they won’t be available this season. The Cougs lost their starting 1-4 spots from the 2011/2012 season and left the Pac-12’s reigning scoring champ with an entirely new starting unit.
Brock Motum is the most versatile big man in the Pac after a really great season, but even he’s got a lot of growing to do. Per coach Bone:
What he can do to really help us out is give us an element of leadership. He’s not really the ‘rah-rah’ guy, but he’s a senior, he’s a very good player, he’s well respected by his piers and teammates and could really give us some good leadership. And then I think he’ll have to take another step on the defensive end and with his rebounding. He will score points, but if he could give us a boost in defense and rebounding that would be really beneficial.
Bone is also looking for a boost in leadership and scoring from senior Mike Ladd and sophomore DaVonte Lacy, who were elected team captians and will probably be called on to bring an element of toughness on the offensive end for the team. From a defensive standpoint, newcomer guards Royce Woolridge (redshirt) and Dominique Ballard (walk-on) will be the pressure players up top, while 2nd year standout DJ Shelton will provide the bulk of the presence inside, hoping for help from Motum.
A couple key bench players include 6’6 sophomore Dexter Kernich-Drew, 6’5 junior Will DiIorio and freshman Brett Boese, who is 6’7. The Cougs are going to be thin, young and will have to play small for the most part. But coach Bone has been here before:
I think the biggest priority is getting everybody to understand that we can be successful and that we have a lot of talented players on the floor. We still have a first team all league guy and leading scorer in the league coming back, DaVonte Lacy, Mike Ladd. There’s a number of guys in our program that, if we play together as a group, we can be good. I’m excited about those possibilities. Fortunately for me I’ve been in this situation before over the years, where you’re looked at as an underdog and you don’t have this and you don’t have that, but a lot of times those are the times when you come together as a team and maximize your talent.
The Cougars will be looking to not only maximize that talent that they possess, but also go above and beyond all expectations. It will be interesting to see what happens with this team as we get going in the season.