Cougars return just two starters, picked 10th in Pac-12 poll
Coach Ken Bone's biggest concern is finding a floor general to replace Reggie Moore, who was dismissed from the team.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SAN FRANCISCO — By most measures, fourth-year coach Ken Bone should have Washington State in position to contend for an upper-half finish in the Pac-12 and its first NCAA tournament berth since 2008.
But the Cougars have been hit with unexpected departures — including the dismissal of senior guard Reggie Moore, who led the conference in assists last season.
Washington State has lost six players and returns just two starters to a team that was picked 10th in the Pac-12 preseason media poll.
"Those three years have gone quick," Bone said. "When you say fourth or fifth year is when things should click, I say yeah. But man, has there been a lot of changes in three years.
"But it is what it is. At the end of the day, you need to put a good team out there that can win, and that's what we're aiming to do."
Bone's biggest concern is finding a floor general to replace Moore. At least initially, WSU will rely on a committee of DaVonte Lacy, Mike Ladd and newcomer Royce Woolridge.
Lacy, a Tacoma standout, is one of two returning starters, along with senior forward Brock Motum, who led the Pac-12 with an 18.0 scoring average.
"My dream scenario is to win a Pac-12 championship and get an NCAA tournament berth," Motum said. "I'd trade a scoring title for that any day."
Bone is hoping Motum is able to carry the Cougars, like former star Klay Thompson did. In 2010-11, Thompson led the league in scoring while leading them to a 22-13 record. WSU finished 9-9 and was sixth in the Pac-10 that season, its best showing under Bone.
Last season, the Cougars tied for eighth. In three seasons under Bone, WSU is 57-46.
"It's taken us a bit longer to get it going," he said.
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson was a bit sheepish about where he's going to be on election night. "Classified information," he joked.
After a bit of prodding, Robinson, the brother of first lady Michelle Obama, admitted he'll be in Chicago with the first family, watching the election results.
When asked if the Beavers will practice that day, he said: "Are you kidding? We've got a game Nov. 9."
Robinson has spent his off days stumping for his brother-in-law, President Barack Obama. "It doesn't get in the way of my professional life," Robinson said.
Robinson wasn't overly concerned about the Pac-12 preseason media poll, which tabbed Oregon State eighth. He's been watching the presidential polls.
"It's probably going to be pretty close," he said.
• Last year, California's Mike Montgomery said he felt fortunate to be alive after undergoing surgery to treat bladder cancer. On Thursday, the 65-year-old coach joked about his medical condition. "How do I look?" he asked. "Pretty good, huh? It hasn't changed me much. I'm still the nutcase I always was."
• Roster churn is nothing new at Oregon, which brings in six freshmen and three new transfers. The Ducks are relying heavily on senior forward E.J. Singler. "E.J. has been an anchor for us the last two years," coach Dana Altman said. "He has done a great job of stabilizing our team. He does all the dirty work. He gets the all the rebounds."
• Commissioner Larry Scott said the Pac-12 isn't any closer to reaching a deal with DirectTV, but acknowledged the start of the basketball season may give the league leverage.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen