March 13, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars guard Royce Woolridge (22) passes the ball against the Washington Huskies during the first half in the first round of the Pac 12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
A little over a month ago, the Cougs were looking at a true freshman running the show in 2013/2014. While a struggling Arizona State program and Herb Sendek came up Aces over the course of the 2012/2013 season with Jahii Carson (who poetically also wears an ace as his jersey number), freshmen point guards for a team that isn’t accustomed to winning or have particularly veteran leadership on the team rarely works out as a saving grace for the coach.
It appears Ken Bone was worried about that as well, because the moment Bill Moos gave him the news that he was officially going to be retained as head coach of WSU, he went out and got himself a point guard of the more mature variety, fresh out of junior college. Not that he doesn’t think incoming freshman recruit Ikenna Iroegbu can get the job done, but the Cougs were lacking a leader with the ability to really set up teammates, after going with a shooting guard or two at point guard all of last season. Lawhorn is an exquisite passer and uses his ability to get into the teeth of the defense to do just what the Cougs need, assist. While he also possesses some set up ability, Ike is more of a classic scorer from the top, able to really find space to get his own shot.
Without looking into the numbers, it’s clear that Lawhorn (who will be a true junior) presents the best immediate opportunity for the Cougars to run an offense that puts more emphasis on its’ bigs or even ball movement in general. Keeping in mind that point guards stay on the floor for a majority of the ball game, there is an interesting decision to be made regarding Iroegbu, who originally thought he’d be pulling the strings his freshman season.
Do the Cougs put him in to rest or even split time with Lawhorn, maybe showing versatility in offense from that position? Or do they put the redshirt on Ike and let Woolridge handle the point duties when Lawhorn needs a rest? After all, Royce played much better towards the end of the season in that role and it’s never a bad thing to give your young ball-handlers an extra year to mature.
The other factor that really plays into this decision by the coaching staff, is that Ken Bone’s seat is going to be warm the entire season. If he feels that Ikenna gives him a much needed scorer on the floor, he may not care too much about the long term status of the program at the position. We’ll talk more about this when the season gets close, but it’s something to ponder.