I’ve been struggling to piece this one together. I think from the outset components of Ken Bone’s time at Washington State have been doomed. Tony Bennett is one of the few coaches who can compete with him in the cool name department (see QUOTABLE below) and who also set an unparallel-able bar in Pullman. Now to be clear, I’m not writing a fire and brimstone preview. I’m also not about to say “quite the contrary.” I’m just saying that there isn’t anything particularly interesting about this team. They’ve lost one of my favorite Pac-12 players of All-Time in Brock Motum. The Australian was my two time reigning Australian of the Year (which I’ve already awarded to Angus Brandt for this season) and he was really good at basketball. The saving grace of Cougar hoop. And now he’s gone to Italy and so too is long time assistant, Ben Johnson. They’ve lost him to Australia, too. Something about down undah.
Why I love them: It’s hard to love something you don’t know and there really isn’t a ton to know about this Cougar team. So I went to their Official Roster and that’s when I fell in love. For someone working in UX (user experience) and guiding different design teams to optimize a digital experience, I appreciate things like hover boxes that help with name pronunciation. You would think Apple Cup rivals, the Washington Huskies, would develop a stand alone page to help with the pronunciation of Giles Dierickx. The Cougars may not get a ton of love nationally or coastally, but god dammit you’re going to pronounce their names right. Additionally, I appreciate the back court of DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge. They’re veterans (JR and rJR, respectively) and have shouldered the point guard role in the excuse of Reggie Moore. They were due help in the arrival of Danny Lawhorn – a JuCo standout set to take over at the one – but HEGONE. I have heard good things about red-shirt freshman, [cue] Johnson, and Dexter [KER-nick]-Drew. So there’s that.
Why I hate them: BROCKMOTUM. How can you be a fan of this conference and be glad to see him leave? He was the consummate collegian and I loved his game. How glorious was it to see him go HAM in Vegas – 28 points in a loss to UW – during his final game (a friend of mine saw him going the other time of HAM on the Strip but that’s a different tale and please note that Aussies party harder than anyone else. Anyone.). Alas, their roster comes at us guard heavy and in a league that already touts Jahii Carson, CJ Wilcox, Justin Cobbs, Nick Johnson, Jordan Adams, Damyean Dotson, TJ McConnell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Chasson Randle, Jarbari Bird, Joseph Young, Nigel Williams-Goss, Jermaine Marshall, Aaron Bright, Dominic Artis…do you get my point?
Stat you need to know:
To be honest, I have no idea what this number means as a number by itself. With context however, this is the 345th worst luck in Division-1 basketball. It basically means that the Cougars were in a lot of ball games (projected to win, arguably) that they wound up losing. There were 10 games last season they lost by 5 or fewer points. Often a poor luck scoring can translate into an improved record the following year. The logic suggests that you lost a bunch of games you were projected to win one year (youth, tough bounces, monitors) and that you’ll get those bounces the following year. Ya know…get better. But I wouldn’t soon hang my hat on luck, Cougar fans, but it is something.
“I’m cheering for Washington State to win the Pac-12 this year only because I don’t want their coach to get fired. There aren’t enough good porn names in sports, so Ken Bone getting axed would be a huge loss.” – Mark Titus
Outlook: Bleak. There’s early hot seat talk and that’s never a good thing. There’s nothing returning in the front court and lots lost. DJ Shelton will man the middle. He did tout a 21.7 DR% which I suppose is encouraging. Addtionally, Ken Bone’s best teams play fast. Or at least swifter than the average bear. His last three seasons, however, Bone’s teams have been playing increasingly slower from his better teams. They’ve also been getting increasingly worse in the ORtg and DRtg department. In analytics we call this a downward trend. But how about that Titus quote, eh?