Last season the WSU Cougars won 22 games and they felt like they were slighted not getting an invite to the Big Dance.
It will be harder for WSU to make to the Big Dance this season now that leading scorer Clay Thompson is now in the NBA.
PG Reggie Moore, who averaged 9.1 ppg and 3.4 assists per game, will have to take up some of the scoring slack.
He can shoot the rock and also penetrate and score and he not only has to score, but run the team as well from the point. There is a lot of pressure on Moore this season and if he struggles the Cougars will struggle.
PF DeAngelo Casto is also gone and 6’10″ juco transfer D.J. Shelton will have to help Brock Motum (7.6 ppg 3.4 rpg last season) in the paint for the Cougars this season and both have to score and hit the boards.
Incoming freshman Greg Sequele will also help on the boards this season.
Faisal Aden was solid off the bench, as the Cougars’ 6th man last season and averaged 12.7 ppg and was the 2nd leading scorer on the team. He has to get a more consistent jumper and he will likely join the starting lineup along with last season’s starters of Marcus Capers (5.8 ppg last season) and Abe Lodwick (3.5 ppg last season).
Lodwick will have to play solid D on the power forwards of the WSU opponents and each has to step up in the scoring department.
All the guys who will start have the ability to score, but who will step up?
Thomson, who averaged over 21 ppg last season, took a ton of shots and there were not many to go around. Either Motum or Shelton has to be the go to guy in the middle for the Cougars last season like Casto was last season. The thing is Motum can step out and hit the J, but is not as good on the boards as Shelton.
One of the big things the Cougars have going for them is that they have a lot of veteran leadership with 3 seniors and 2 juniors in the starting lineup.
The starters need to play like veterans and be smart with the rock now that Thomson is no longer in Pullman.
Washington State has to face 3 teams that are ranked in the preseason top 25 in the Pac 12 of Arizona, UCLA, and California. Before conference play they do not have a very tough schedule besides facing 23rd ranked Gonzaga in their season opener on the road and at home facing Oklahoma.
The Cougars have a lot of question marks this season, but they still have talent.
WSU Cougars 2011/12 Season Prediction
I think they will be over .500 and may get a NIT bid, but with Thompson gone they will not make the Big Dance. Just my .02c.
(Click here to view the WSU Cougars 2011-2012 Basketball Schedule)
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