Saturday afternoon’s 67-54 loss at the hands of Cal bears (no pun intended, or maybe) a striking resemblance to Wednesday’s loss in Palo Alto to the Cardinal. Actually, the losses have striking similarity to most of the Cougar losses this season. As the competition increases in difficulty, Washington State’s flaws are starting to show themselves for longer stretches and ultimately are leaving the Cougs clawing for answers.
Unfortunately, from my point of view, the answer isn’t on the roster that the Cougars possess. Actually it was, heading into the Fall, but it is no longer, with the subtraction of Reggie Moore due to broken team rules. Not that they can’t or won’t win another game, they will. Brock Motum has a terrific day and gets enough help from Ladd and Lacy together, Cougs will pull some out. The problem is that won’t happen enough to keep the Cougars on top of a .500 record.
Against both Cal and Stanford, the issues were pretty clear. We play hard, we have some talent, but outside of Motum there isn’t anyone who can create their own shot, or consistently hit a mid-range jumper. In fact, repeatedly in those games WSU should have ended up at the rim, but instead ended up bricking a 15 footer with a hand in their face. It didn’t help that DaVonte Lacy has lost all confidence at this point and simply will not take over a game, even if he’s the only one that can do it.
You may have just said to yourself “hold on, Motum can take a game over”. But see, the thing is, he can’t because he’s too busy just keeping his team in it. Going back to the Gonzaga game, Lacy took that game over and Motum was able at that point to be most effective. Case and point the final basket to tie it up was Lacy looking for the rim, not looking for Brock. It was also the last time Lacy took an important shot with confidence. Even then, DaVonte had a lot of catch and shoot opportunities as opposed to creation opportunities.
Saturday, the kid was hardly even on the floor due to lazy defense and foul trouble, eventually leading to the demise of Washington State, even with Mike Ladd having a very nice game (double double with 9 offensive boards) and D.K-D finally hitting a big three to keep them in it late.
Cal took Brock totally out of the game after a quick 5 point run to put his total at 15 real early in the 2nd half. That’s where he ended as well. And I almost forgot the fact that Royce Woolridge has a serious issue with dribbling out 2/3 of the shot clock without really going anywhere. It’s just maddening to watch him dribble around the perimeter and then air-ball three 3 pointers and not learn. It’s why Ladd has taken over some of the PG duties, and he tries to be a creator, but he isn’t explosive enough to be consistent.
There’s those issues and there’s then the coaching issue. I hate to blame coaching, but in watching the Cal game, there were several instances where the Cougs were in great shape and playing well, only for the coaches to change defenses or offensive strategy. All momentum was lost in those cases because Cal started doing things that they weren’t previously able to do. Switching from man to zone when the Cougs were leading in the first and second halves for instance, Cal started doing scoring in both instances after several possessions of struggling.
Really there’s a lot of things to be concerned about as a Coug fan at the moment. I just hope we can build from here and not digress into complete obscurity as we get into the Pac-12 season.
Always, Go Cougs!