A microcosm of the Washington State Cougars’ frustrating season has been the play of junior guard Royce Woolridge. The transfer from Kansas was a key contributor last season, starting all but one game and averaging 11 points per game while scoring 36 at Oregon to lead the Pac-12.
But this season Woolridge has struggled, particularly on shots close to the basket and has seen his scoring average dip to 4.2 points per game in conference play. Coach Ken Bone has started freshman Ike Iroegbu in Woolridge’s place the last two games and says that the junior’s struggles have snowballed as his confidence has been shaken.
“It really has. I don’t know I’ve not been able to put my thumb on it, I wish I could,” Bone said.
Bone did note that Woolridge has been asked to take over point guard duties this season with the dismissal of Danny Lawhorn and that the added responsibility may account for his struggles.
“He’s the best we’ve got at playing the point,” Bone said. “He’s the best ball handler on the team, he’s the quickest on the team, he’s the best point guard defender on the team so therefore we feel we need to go with him.”
There has been plenty of chatter about the WCC schedule this season, where several teams had prolonged home or road stretches.
San Francisco and Portland had five-game home stands. Gonzaga opened with four straight at home and finishes with four on the road. San Diego had seven road games in the first half and will play seven at home in the second half.
The addition of Pacific created a 10-team scheduling model. Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said that presented “more challenges putting it together,” including protecting travel partners and working with television partners.
“We’ve identified what the challenges are and I think we can get ahead of it, certainly some of the home and road stretches,” Zaninovich said. “We’ll get it cleaned up.”
Big Sky race close
No conference in Division I features a tighter race than the Big Sky Conference, which has nine of its 11 teams within three games of each other.
While Weber State has a two-game lead on the field and Southern Utah is a lost cause at the bottom, the other nine squads are chasing six postseason tournament spots in a game of musical chairs that should go down to the final weekend.