PULLMAN – It’s hard for men’s basketball coach Ken Bone to quantify exactly what the loss of Mike Ladd means to Washington State.
Ladd, who missed Wednesday’s loss to Oregon State with a left knee injury, is expected to sit again this afternoon when the Cougars host No. 23 Oregon at Beasley Coliseum.
Without him against the Beavers, WSU struggled against defensive pressure and had trouble keeping OSU from snagging offensive rebounds. The Ducks (20-5, 9-3 Pac-12) figure to use their quickness to trap and press the Cougars in similar fashion, though Oregon coach Dana Altman told reporters on Friday that point guard Dominic Artis will remain sidelined by a foot injury.
But for WSU (11-14, 2-10 Pac-12), losing Ladd is probably the bigger blow.
“When you lose a guy like Mike, you lose that role,” Bone said. “He plays a role. He went and got nine rebounds at UCLA. You lose that, too. You lose the fact that he’s 6-4½, 6-5 and a good defender. You lose his toughness. You lose his ability to shoot the 3, to drive, to post up. He’s been doing a little bit of all those things.
“So it’s hard to replace that role that he’s been formed into, and what we’re trying to do is piece it together with different guys.”
That might be particularly difficult against the conference-leading Ducks. WSU hung with Oregon for the better part of a 68-61 loss in Eugene last month, but Ladd led the team with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore guard DaVonte Lacy, who scored a career-high 27 points against OSU, said replacing Ladd’s 11.4 ppg average – as well as his rebounding – has to be a team effort.
“With him out, that’s 11 points that anyone can get on our team,” Lacy said. “I think it’s just more I have to be more aggressive looking for ways to score and looking for ways to create.”