Cougs Stand at 11-9
After the Washington State Cougars stumbled into Pac-12 play, they find themselves at No. 10 in the conference. They have garnered a reputation for falling apart in the final minutes, giving up second-half leads on a regular basis. If the game were shortened to 35 minutes, the Cougs could very well be 19-1 — the Kansas blow out was over from the start.
But it turns out they are 40 minute contests. Who knew? Apparently not the Cougars.
The games have been intense, stressful, competitive, and all of the other anxiety-producing emotions under the sun. Yet the Cougars have not come out victoriously very often. The Cougars are coming off of a nail-biting win over Oregon State. Hopefully this will boost them into a possible in-conference winning streak.
These are the individual performances that have stuck out so far:
While Brock Motum is still leading the team in points per game (18.9) and rebounds (6.6) he has been outperformed in Pac-12 play by his teammate, Mike Ladd.
Since the beginning of their conference schedule, Ladd has been a completely different player. Averaging 17 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, Ladd has given the Cougars that second scorer they have so desperately needed.
In his last outing, Ladd posted a career high 23 points against the Beavers, including the teams first 11 points. He did so with extraordinary efficiency, shooting 10-11 from the field. Motum has been consistent all season and Dexter Kernich-Drew has been a nice offensive spark off of the bench.
However, if they are to be successful in the future, it appears Ladd will have to continue to be the second option for Washington State.
Where is Lacy?
After the gradual digression of Reggie Moore over his three year career, sophomore DaVonte Lacy is giving evidence of a similar story. Both had great rookie seasons which created optimism for two bright futures. Reggie never lived up to the hype, and was eventually kicked off the team earlier this year.
Lacy has shown signs of the sophomore we hoped to see, but his Pac 12 play has made the Cougar nation nervous. After 7 games in conference play, Lacy has averaged just 5.4 points on 11-50 shooting (22%).
The emergence of Ladd has pushed this dry spell somewhat under the rug, but his productivity his still nowhere near the hopeful margin.
In his 4th season as the head coach of Washington State, Ken Bone has been scrutinized on several occasions for his team’s underwhelming performances – and his 0 tournament appearances.
With another poor start to conference play, Bone’s future in Pullman is in jeopardy, and his decision late in the Oregon game did little to help matters.
When a team continues to fall apart down the stretch, you tend to lay majority of the blame on the coaching. So after blowing a 10-point lead on the road against the #16 Oregon Ducks, Bone made a decision.
Down 7 with roughly 1 minute to play, Bone inserts Keaton Hayenga and then runs a play to get him an open look from beyond the arc. Hayenga hadn’t stepped foot on the court since December 29th, in which he played 4 minutes. So on a crucial possession, he gives the shot to the ice cold junior out of Sammamish.
This move brings back haunting memories of the similar play call Bone made last season. With the game on the line down three, Ken Bone put in the ice cold Patrick Simon for the three-point attempt.
Both calls bring up questions rather than results, and are simply turning up the heat under Ken Bone’s seat.
To Sum It All Up
The Cougars have seem to have every game in their hands, yet cannot hold onto the victory. With the emergence of Ladd, they now have two capable scorers and a supporting cast with plenty of potential. However, teams cannot rely on two players or potential alone to win ball games.
Coming off of a victory over Oregon State on the road, the Cougars have an upcoming home stand against Arizona State and Arizona. The Cougs are very good at Beasley Coliseum, but they will have their hands full with this tough duo reigning from The Grand Canyon State. Two wins over these teams would be huge in turning this program around. Prove yourself Ken Bone. Save your job.