Washington State Basketball: Cougs Employ Different Strategy in Win Over Utah


January 09, 2013: Washington State Cougars head coach Ken Bone on the sidelines during the second half against the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion. Stanford won 78-67. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed as if the shackles were taken off of the Washington State guards last night, as the Cougars scored a season high 75 points. Mike Ladd became a shooter, Royce Woolridge became an attacker, Brock Motum became an offensive distraction, then his usual superstar-self. All five starters scored in double figures and Utah couldn’t answer enough.

For much of the second half, the Cougar lead floated between 10 and 16 points as the Cougars flipped the ball around to find their shots instead of dribbling around to find their Aussie sensation. And when they were open, they shot the ball, a lot! This is something that hasn’t really happened all season but it looks like the recipe for success.

In fact, Motum didn’t score at all in the first half and the Cougs looked more comfortable than ever. It wasn’t till a run by Utah to cut a 16 point lead to 6 that Brock really decided to take the game over. Because of the aggressiveness of the rest of his mates, he had the space to do it. After a 3 point basket to extend the lead to 9, he then hit 2 technical foul free throws and then made a beautiful up and under move to take the lead back to 13 points and essentially the game was Washington State’s to lose after that.

Woolridge poured in 14 points, seemingly free after he hit a big 3 against Cal that took a month long lid off of the basket for him. Ladd stroked 5 3’s in route to a game high 22 point performance. Lacy and Shelton went for 10 apiece in the “where the heck have you been” show. It was just a nice overall game to watch from a Cougar standpoint.

Now it’s on to Colorado, which is no easy task, but very doable. It’s another must-win for Bone and staff, as he tries to get WSU on a role and show promise for the future of what has become an apathetic program under his lead. True, we’re only 4 games in to an 18 game conference schedule, but it’s games like last night’s and Saturday’s upcoming that we have lost far too often during the Bone tenure.

A turnaround is necessary and thankfully we may have seen the light last night. For the first time all season, I saw a team with the ability and the reign to think for themselves. It wasn’t always the right decision, but when a mistake was made they didn’t dwell on it, they rebounded to make a play. Hopefully Bone saw the benefit of that strategy and hopefully the team can continue to put it to good use.

Go Cougs!