In preparation for UCLA’s basketball game versus Washington State tonight, I sat down with Joshua Davis, the lead editor of Washington State’s FanSided site, All Coug’d Up.
Joshua was kind enough to answer some of my burning questions about Wazzu basketball, and I returned the favor for UCLA. My answers to his Bruins questions can be seen in an article on his site. Here are Joshua’s answers from his Q&A session with Go Joe Bruin.
Q: The Washington State basketball team has lost a lot of close games this season, some in heart-breaking fashion (i.e., two-point loss to Gonzaga). Do you think that the adversity of those losses has a positive or negative cumulative effect? As in, are the Cougs battle-tested or worn down as a result?
A: Worn down no question. There isn’t a team that tries harder and gets less reward than the Cougars.
Q: If you had to briefly diagnose the reason for the Cougs’ shortcomings this season, what would you choose to highlight?
A: Lack of an elite athlete or legit Pac-12 point guard and coaching deficiencies down the stretch of ballgames. We don’t have anyone who CAN win us games and we don’t have a staff that knows HOW to win us games without that guy. Even when Klay [Thompson] was here we struggled to win games that we should have won with [head coach Ken] Bone’s game plans.
Q: How does the WSU fanbase feel about coach Ken Bone at this point? Aside from a 22-13 season in 2010, Bone’s teams have hovered around .500 for the majority of his stay in Pullman. Is his seat getting hotter as the losses pile up, or does he have a vote of confidence?
A: Yeah speaking of Bone, right? Well, it’s somewhat split actually, but I think it’s mostly because of the ridiculous 7-year contract that he was given and he’s only in his 4th season of that. Any normal 5-year contract would have EVERYBODY up in arms at this point in my opinion. It’s also my opinion that [athletic director Bill] Moos only cares about winning and that happens less by the year under Bone. Take that for what its worth.
Q: Coming into the season, many were touting Brock Motum as a Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate. His value to the team has been unquestionable, as the 6’10” senior leads Wazzu in scoring and rebounding, but has he been spectacular? Do you think Motum has lived up to his preseason billing as one of the conference’s best?
A: I think at times there’s no doubt he absolutely is one of the Pac’s best. He is extremely versatile, scores in and out, handles well and is a decent passer. He has really been undone this season by the loss of a penetrating PG that can get him open late in the game when teams key on him. Reggie Moore in my opinion made Motum a legit national star, but his dismissal made Motum just a really good Pac-12 player. Funny how it’s a team game and stuff.
Q: For the matchup with UCLA, which Washington State player do you think has the best chance to have an impact versus the Bruins?
A: DaVonte Lacy has scored 15 and 21 the past two ball games. He needs to continue to be aggressive because his scoring gives the Cougs a chance on any given night. Unfortunately, Lacy and Motum can’t seem to score a lot of points together and that’s when the Cougs are at their best. Also look for converted PG [Mike] Ladd to produce some first half points, he’s been averaging 17 in conference play.
Q: Washington State has a brutal end to its Pac-12 slate, finishing with two games against UCLA, a home matchup with Oregon and road games at ASU, Arizona and Washington. How many wins do you think are left on the Cougs’ schedule?
A: Oregon State is the only win I see remaining. Maybe Washington if momentum can be gained at some point in the second half, rivalry and all that. USC could come in and lose on the final game of the season too, depending on what’s at stake for them. The Trojans don’t generally play well here [in Pullman].