Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Indulge me for a second while I pastiche my favorite Aaron Sorkin soliloquy:
Offensive basketball when played almost perfectly is like music. It has rhythm and movement and pattern and harmony. These are the properties of music. And music has the ability to find us, and move us, and lift us up in ways that literal meaning can't. Do you see?
Well-executed offense is music and yesterday's game was 45 minutes of the opening stanzas of Baba O'Riley. At times the action was too quick to follow while trying to fire off a tweet or even simply mark a play in my notebook.
Just check out the sequence in this video captured by CougCenter's Jeff Nusser. A Vine video can only last six seconds and that one includes WSU taking the ball out of the net after a make, inbounding it and scoring.
Washington State made 14 of 24 3-pointers, almost all of them were wide open and most seemed to come when a player passed up a good shot for a better one. It certainly helps that basically every player had a good shooting night – Que Johnson was the only nine players that saw the floor to shoot less than 50 percent, and he made 2 of 3 3-pointers – but regardless of how well WSU is shooting the ball movement and knowledge of a new offense is impressive.
— The defense, obviously, could be better. Kent said afterward that it wasn't Jordan Railey's type of game – because of all the running, I believe, and that he's saying Railey is more suited to a half-court game like the Cougars played against California in which he excelled. But with Railey only playing 10 minutes the Cougars didn't have anyone to protect the rim and UO's Elgin Cook was able to score 26 points.
Joseph Young had a huge night with 32 points. WSU needs to get better at stopping high-level guards having now given up 29 or more points to Corey Hawkins, Nigel Williams-Goss and Young.
— WSU is now 2-0 in overtime games and has won three consecutive conference games that came down to the wire.
— Ike Iroegbu may not be playing point guard anymore but he is still WSU's shot creator on fast breaks, which is how he tied for the team lead with five assists. The Cougars have run the break very well in these last two games and if they score on an initial cutter they do a good job of finding the trailing big man, like in the video above and on a pretty pass that led to a Junior Longrus dunk.
Here are some more stats from the game:
— Lacy now has 1,302 career points and ranks No. 13 on the all-time WSU scoring list, having passed Carlos Daniel and Derrick Low yesterday.
— Josh Hawkinson had his 10th double-double of the season.
— WSU's 57 first-half points were the most first-half points scored by the Cougars in at least 15 years, and probably a lot more.
— Brett Boese scored a career-high 16 points. He's played 30-plus minutes in each of the last two games.
— WSU's 3-1 Pac-12 start is the best since the Cougars went 4-1 during the 2007-08 season.
Let's open up that quote book:
"We're being confident and calm. Coach always talks about not getting too high and not getting too low and I think we've done a good job of that besides the mishap at Cal but we bounced back from that and still won that game. But we've played two games and knocked down our free throws and taken care of the ball and that's what good teams do."
What's really impressive about this team is we only have three seniors and all the young guys – these two (Josh Hawkinson and Ike Iroegbu) are sophomores and they're playing with really high character and high confidence in late-game situations. I don't know if we've had that in the past.
Coming into the game we knew how they were playing and they're very similar to us – they like to run and stuff. So coming into the game it was kind of a joke like we're going to put 100 up. That was like our motto, we're running and we're going to put 100 up. It was funny because right when we hit 100, I didn't notice it, but I looked at the bench and it was like, 'hey, we got a hundo.'
(How does your knee feel?)
It feels good. I wasn't 100 percent, I wasn't going to help my team out. If someone else was going to be 100 percent, I was probably like 85-90 percent but someone that was 100 percent was going to help the team better. It's just a little stinger but I'll be alright in the morning.
This was about my basketball team and the next hurdle that we needed to overcome. They played really good on the road in conference play. They needed to come back home and handle all the adversity of playing at home and sometimes you think there is no adversity, there's a lot of adversity because now you have classes, you have the students pack, you have people patting them on their back. You can really fall into a trap and not have them ready to go like you are on the road when we can keep them in hotel rooms, keep them together, keep them in walkthroughs. I was proud of the fact that they got themselves ready to play.
My staff did an outstanding job getting them ready to play with the scouts and everything and when you're in an environment where you have to come down to the wire with a chance to win and don't get it done and come back and play even better in the overtime, that's pretty impressive.
It seems like with this team the bigger the stage, the better they're starting to play and if that building continues to be on fire like that with the students coming back and the energy it provides and the energy from the community sitting behind my back, there's so much more basketball in us and you're seeing a team that's really growing up before your eyes. It's Washington State's basketball team and it's an honor and a privilege to coach them because that's an excellent group of young men down there that have really bought in and believe.
After covering Washington State's 80-77 win over Washington yesterday I made it back to Pullman in time to see if the women's basketball team can follow with their first win ever over Stanford.
The Cardinal held on, but not before the Cougars got closer than they've ever been, forcing overtime before falling 86-76.
Now let's look back at yesterday's win over the Huskies.
— Ike Iroegbu was only the team's third-leading scorer yesterday but coach Ernie Kent said afterward that he made the difference in the game because of the way he pushed the tempo. Iroegbu continues to thrive in a role off the ball this season and while he's had success all season driving to the hoop, it seemed like he took a step forward on Saturday by consistently finding shooters after he got to the cup.
DaVonte Lacy and Que Johnson are going continue shooting the ball well outside if they can sit in the corners and wait for the open looks Iroegbu gave them. So the Cougars are getting open looks early in the shot clock, and even if they miss those quick shots are going to coax the other team into playing an up-tempo pace themselves.
That was the game plan yesterday and it worked perfectly, forcing UW's big men to spend more time running back and forth than hanging out on the blocks.
"What we tried to do with the game was to take the bigs out of the game with the speed of the game," Kent said. "They're at one end of the floor while we're making plays, therefore they couldn't be shot blockers because we're going fast and that was our game plan."
— In both of WSU's Pac-12 wins the Cougars have been very good in the final minutes. DaVonte Lacy made all six free throw attempts once UW started intentionally sending WSU to the line, a big reason the Cougars were able to pull out the win in a hostile environment.
"I knew I was going to take them because I told myself if we win or lose it's going to be on my shoulders," Lacy said. "I am a senior so it had to be on my shoulders. I just stepped up and did what I do best."
It wasn't Lacy's highest scoring (or second highest-scoring) game of the season, but to me it felt like his best game of the year. He made just 2 of 9 3-point attempts, but went 6 of 8 inside the arc. He attacked the basket and peppered the defense with jump shots but never dominated the ball or took the offense out of its rhythm.
It was a game that showed how Lacy can still be a big-time scorer without shots being created for him on a whiteboard.
— Que Johnson and Brett Boese combined for 26 points and got the Cougars through the first half when Lacy and Josh Hawkinson weren't scoring much. It figured that Johnson would start to put up some good numbers eventually, but Boese, who prepped at Shadle Park, has been a pleasant surprise for the Cougars.
Kent always seemed to view Boese as a useful piece – a shooter that had enough size to defend forwards and eat a few minutes while Hawkinson or Jordan Railey rested. But Kent has stated a few times that Boese was more or less playing to the maximum of his ability in recent weeks.
Boese showed a little more on Saturday. He made 3 of his 5 3-point attempts and score 11 points, but more importantly he was aggressive. Early in the game he seemed like the most fired up guy on the floor and he played 31 minutes (despite sitting the first four) because of his defense.
When the rest of the Cougars started to play well it seemed that they were matching Boese's energy and if he plays like that he could become an important sixth man for the Cougars, a versatile one that gives Kent a lot of flexibility.
Here is the game book:
And let's open up that Ernie Kent quote book:
"I want to talk about this team first of all because I thought, number one, that this was a fantastic college basketball game. I know the Seahawks are playing today but for the people who came and watched this game, to see the energy in the building from Washington's crowd, the ferocious pace that we set early in the game and for them not to break, to come right back up on us and play that fast as big as they were, I just thought it was a tremendous college basketball game.
"I'm real, real proud of guys like DaVonte Lacy who's from over in this area, made the journey to Washington State and has not had a lot of success. And to come back here in his senior year and play that well and get a W, I'm real proud of this team.
"This was a team that I was told couldn't defend; the numbers told you that these last couple of years, couldn't shoot; their numbers told you that these last couple of years, couldn't shoot free throws; these last couple of years, but yet we took them, put our arms around them, we let them empty their backpack of all that negative stuff and I'm just happy for them that they're coming of age right now."
From Pullman — Rejoice, anti-Bone blog commenters. Your long-awaited day is at an end. Washington State athletic director Bill Moos fired basketball coach Ken Bone earlier this morning in the fifth-year of his seven-year contract. No word yet on who his replacement may be, but here is our story on the firing, Bone thoughts on his tenure and a look at who could be next.
Before he left Bone and I spoke in-depth about next year's roster and what he expects to see from certain players. His thoughts are after the jump.
Follow the jump for transcriptions.
Follow the jump for a transcription of coach Ken Bone following WSU's win over UCLA.
When the Cougars lost DaVonte Lacy with a rib injury freshman Que Johnson stepped up and took on the responsibility of Washington State's go-to scorer. He scored in double figures in eight of nine games and routinely led the team in scoring.
But in the six games since Lacy returned against Washington, Johnson has reached double figures only once and is averaging just 6.0 points per game. After starting 14 straight games, including every Pac-12 game, Johnson came off the bench last week at Oregon State and Oregon.
More after the jump.
From Pullman — In today's Spokesman-Review I had an article about the impact recent NCAA rules changes regarding hand checking and offensive charges have had on undersized posts. Tighter hand-checking rules drive offensive players toward the basket, and the new charge rules make it tougher for a defensive player to get in position. As such, teams are likely to emphasize height even more when recruiting post players because the ability to block or alter shots is more valuable than ever.
Oversized yet under-skilled forwards aren't the only players benefitting from the rule changes however. Players who can attack the basket and get to the foul line are finding that the new rules have made their lives easier. Follow the jump to see just how many more free throws are being attempted this season.
The Washington State men's basketball team's trip to the desert wasn't the cleansing experience often experienced by participants at Burning Man or those on various spirit quests. Rather, WSU's offensive drought was more reminiscent of one Wile E. Coyote — always chasing that blasted bird but always one step behind.
A DaVonte Lacy sighting proved to be a mirage, and it's anyones guess when the Cougars leading scorer will return and provide some offensive relief. We'll recap WSU's road trip in full, after the jump.
Courtesy of WSU Athletics.
From Pullman — The Washington State men's basketball season doesn't officially tip off until November 8, but you can get a sneak peek of the Cougars this Friday at 8 p.m. when the team takes on Central Washington University in Beasley Coliseum for an exhibition game that is free to the public. The Wildcats were picked by coaches to finish fourth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and are led by senior Mark McLaughlin who pledged to play for WSU once upon a time.
FROM PULLMAN — Prized Washington State freshman Que Johnson has been ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA, a WSU spokesman confirmed, which means he will receive athletics aid and attend classes this year but is ineligible to play in the 2012-13 season.
Johnson enrolled in classes at the beginning of fall semester, an indication that WSU expected him to be around this season. With a reputation as a pure, volume scorer, Johnson likely would have competed for a spot in the starting lineup right away. Instead, he'll attend classes and work to become eligible for the 2013-14 season.
All for now. We'll update as more information becomes available.
UPDATE: A WSU spokesperson confirmed that Johnson will not be allowed to practice with the team this season. His scholarship still counts toward the limit of 13 per team.
FROM PULLMAN — Washington State officially confirmed the transfer of Brett Kingma from Oregon to play for the Cougars men's basketball team this season. He's enrolled in classes and is part of the team going forward.
The big news: Kingma, a sought-after guard from Mill Creek, Wash., who held multiple Pac-12 offers as a high-school senior in 2011, will be a walk-on at WSU.
As far as I know, it's unclear if Kingma's walk-on status will matter in regards to the NCAA transfer rule — he should still have to sit out this season, though there has been no official word from WSU in that regard.
WSU is still waiting for the NCAA to rule on the eligibility of freshman Que Johnson, who is in Pullman and is taking classes. A decision is expected relatively soon.