Built for the Future
Coach Ken Bone and the Washington State Cougars take one step forward and two steps back.
There were hopes that this would be the season that the Cougars removed themselves from the role of “lil brother” to the Washington Huskies. Unfortunately, a string of misfortune hit Pullman and the Washington State faithful will have to wait until next year for a dance ticket.
The Cougars managed to find a birth in the post season last year and, although it was only the CBI (College Basketball Invitational), they did play in the best of three championship series before bowing out to the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Posting a 19-18 overall record, the Cougs had a roller coaster season, defeating the top tier teams on their 2011-12 schedule and then playing well below the level of their less talented opponents.
With mixed reviews from a 2011 campaign, the 2012 Cougar basketball team is also heading down the path of uncertainty.
Here is what we know now.
Signing Que Johnson, a 6’5″ sg/sf from Detroit over traditional Northwest powerhouse schools like Washington and Gonzaga is a major step for Coach Bone. Many feel that Johnson could mirror the career of former Cougar great Klay Thompson.
The one major problem for Johnson and Bone is that the youngster has been deemed a partial qualifier by the NCAA powers that be and will have to sit out the season.
Richard Longrus, a 6’7″, 235lb power forward, could find minutes early in the season in the Cougars’ thin front court.
The Cougars have taken a big blow to their backcourt with the recent dismissal of senior point guard Reggie Moore. After a promising freshman season, Moore struggled the past two years with injuries and hopes for a strong senior season were had by all.
So where does Coach Bone turn?
Chances are he will try and morph either Mike Ladd or DaVonte Lacy into a combo shooting guard / point guard, neither of which specialize in being a floor general. Look for sophomore transfer Royce Woolridge to make an impact after sitting out one season following his relocation from Kansas.
If Wooldridge can quickly mesh with the rest of the Cougars guards, they may have found themselves a secondary scoring source.
The butter to the Cougars’ bread is 6’10” senior forward Brock Motum. Turning down the pay to play option this summer, Motum has the chance to lead the conference in scoring after averaging 18ppg last season.
While Coach Bone has the option to play Johnson at the small forward spot, their lack of depth in the paint is their Achilles’ heel.
Other than Motum, the Cougars feature three players who provided little production last year or weren’t even on campus. 6″10″ D.J. Shelton, 6’9″ junior college transfer James Hunter and Longrus all have a good chance to see quality floor time with little in the cupboard, but contributions are in high demand.
The good thing for Coach Bone is that his rear end isn’t exactly on the proverbial “hot seat”…yet.
Due to a winning streak that has reached seven straight seasons, Bone has maintained his job. The problem is, a “+1″ in the win column isn’t exactly what the fans and Cougar supporters have been hoping for.
With the loss of Moore and Johnson stuck in the library, Bone will need a fair share of horseshoes and rabbits feet to get through this season.
Unfortunately for Cougars fans, this year appears to be a tough pill to swallow, but 2013-14 looks promising when Johnson and freshly inked Ikenna Iroegbu take to the floor.