2011-12 Pac-12 Basketball
Report: UW & WSU
Younger roster could be just as effective
The Huskies will field an unusual but intriguing and potentially explosive squad. Gone are four seniors (including the team's top three scorers) who played substantial roles a year ago, but no one doubts Washington will be back to challenge in the upper division of the Pac-12.
If anything, coach Lorenzo Romar expects more from this younger group than he got a year ago, when Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday and Venoy Overton were bounced in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Led by super-soph Terrence Ross and beyond-his-years freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr., the Huskies will match up nicely on the perimeter with virtually anyone in the country.
Whether they can crack the top three in the conference may depend on what kind of scoring punch their frontcourt can produce. Starting posts Aziz N'diaye and Darnell Gant combined to average less than 10 points per game in 2010-11, and Romar knows the team cannot survive solely on a perimeter scoring diet.
Washington suffered an early setback when senior shooting guard Scott Suggs fractured his right pinkie toe and needed surgery. He'll be out until mid-December.
"I felt bad for him," Romar told the Seattle Times. "He had worked hard. He's playing so well. He's playing with a high level of confidence. You could just see it.
"I'd feel bad for him if he was a junior or a sophomore, but as a senior, that's when you want everything to go right. You don't want any setbacks."
Ross figures to be the Huskies' lead scorer. He had 25 points in 27 minutes against Oregon last season, and he impresses even his teammates.
"Terrence is an NBA-caliber player," Gant said. "He has game. When Terrence gets hot, he won't miss."
--The Huskies hope to have senior co-captain SG Scott Suggs (7.4 ppg) back in time for their Dec. 10 game against Duke at Madison Square Garden. Suggs fractured his right pinkie toe the week before the start of official practice in mid-October and was expected to miss eight weeks. Suggs considered not having surgery, and his toe would have required about 12 weeks to heal.
--Suggs, a native of Washington, Mo., was excited about returning home to play Saint Louis on Nov. 20. Now he'll miss the homecoming contest. "The only reason we're playing that game is for him," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "I know a lot of people were excited to see him play."
--Romar has eight players on his roster who have never played in a game: six scholarship freshmen, a redshirt freshman and a walk-on freshman.
LAST YEAR: 24-11 overall, 11-7 in the Pac-10
HEAD COACH: Lorenzo Romar, 16th year as head coach (195-102 in nine years at Washington; 288-190 career)
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He was playing his best basketball, so you lose that. And he was our leading shooter, shooting 45 percent from the 3-point line. You lose that. You lose a defender. You lose a guy who's experienced with the know-how and was playing really well." -- Coach Lorenzo Romar, on the many ways the Huskies will miss injured G Scott Suggs.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP: PG Abdul Gaddy, SG C.J. Wilcox, SF Terrence Ross, PF Darnell Gant, C Aziz N'Diaye.
LINEUP BREAKDOWN: Although the Huskies lost four starters, including their top three scorers, from a year ago, there is lots of youthful experience. This roster features six players who have combined for more than 60 starts. Ready to break out this season is Ross, a 6-foot-6 sophomore wing who averaged 8.0 points as a rookie but could double that this season. He is viewed as a future NBA lottery pick. As usual, there are lots of long, lively athletes on the team, and coach Lorenzo Romar has great depth, which will help overcome the early-season absence of Scott Suggs (fractured toe). Gaddy, back after missing most of last season with a knee injury, is the starter at point guard, but could move over to shooting guard if freshman Tony Wroten Jr. demonstrates he's ready to run the club.
SCOUTING THE NEWCOMERS: Coach Lorenzo Romar welcomes eight new faces, but the headliner is freshman PG Tony Wroten Jr., a product of Seattle's Garfield High School, the same school that sent Brandon Roy to Washington. A five-star prospect, Wroten is so talented that few will be surprised if he becomes a starter early in the season, dislodging veteran Abdul Gaddy. Wroten is eager to show fans his fiery demeanor does not suggest he's a bad guy. "If you go off how I play in the game, I'm very emotional," Wroten said. "I'm always pumped. So I could get people thinking I'm a bad person. But those same people who call me a bad person, once they meet me, they're like, 'Man, that Tony Wroten, he's a whole different person.'"
Martin Breunig, a 6-8 freshman forward from Germany, is a scorer and the club's big man of the future. The Huskies went to New Orleans to pluck 6-10 F Jenard Jarreau, but at 195 pounds, he will need some seasoning before he can bang with the big kids. Freshman G Andrew Andrews could find minutes because he can score, and redshirt freshman wing Desmond Simmons brings a blue-collar attitude. Shawn Kemp Jr., whose father was a star for the Seattle SuperSonics, is likely to redshirt.
--Sophomore G Terrence Ross averaged 8.0 points in 17.4 minutes last season, primarily coming off the bench. He got better as the season progressed, averaging 15.3 points in three games as the Huskies swept to the Pac-10 tournament crown.
--C Aziz N'Diaye, a 7-foot, 260-pound junior, had 13 points and 15 rebounds against McNeese State in his Division I debut last season. But his offense largely disappeared thereafter, and he never scored in double figures against a Pac-10 opponent. Nine times against conference foes, he scored two points or fewer.
--Sophomore G C.J. Wilcox likely would have gotten more attention on any other team, but Terrence Ross was most often the Washington freshman in the spotlight. Wilcox, who averaged 8.1 ppg, was a Pac-10 all-freshman pick and made 63 3-pointers, a freshman school record.
Early exit of two mainstays leaves Cougars in rebuilding mode
The Cougars' two best players -- Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto -- left town for the pros with a season of eligibility remaining -- and there is no minimizing what the effect will be.
Washington State's challenge this season may be to avoid finishing lower in the Pac-12 standings than new conference members Colorado and Utah. It seems unlikely they will land higher than 10th in the standings.
"It's going to be different," junior point guard Reggie Moore conceded, "but it's just something we gotta do. (The departed players) went on to bigger and better things, so it's something we've got to adjust to and make happen."
The first thing coach Ken Bone must make happen is toning down the off-court melodrama. Both Thompson and Moore had scrapes with the law over marijuana possession, and the incidents had to be distractions.
Thompson's lapse in judgment earned him a suspension for the regular-season finale at home vs. UCLA, and perhaps it was the difference in the Cougars' 58-54 overtime loss. A victory would have lifted them to 20 wins and could have locked up an NCAA Tournament bid.
Thompson returned to score a record 43 points in the Pac-10 tournament quarterfinal against Washington, but Washington State lost 89-87 and was sent to the NIT.
Washington State was a tough team to peg all season, sweeping in-state rival Washington during the regular season, but losing at Arizona State and at home to Stanford.
Now the Cougs start again, without nearly the talent they had a year ago.
Sans the physical presence of Casto, Bone said, "We need everybody to be involved" in the rebounding.
Without high-scoring Thompson, screening and working together will be critical.
"We don't have anybody who could create shots, get them off and elevate the way Klay did," Bone said.
--Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd, a 6-foot-5 junior wing, was voted captain along with Marcus Capers and Abe Lodwick by their teammates. Ladd averaged 10.3 ppg for Fresno two seasons ago and is reunited with ex-Seattle high school teammate Reggie Moore.
--Junior PF Brock Motum returned from his offseason in Australia having added 15 pounds mostly to the upper body of his 6-10 frame.
--Of the six players former coach Tony Bennett brought in as his final recruiting class (2008), only guard Marcus Capers made it to his senior year. Guards Mike Harthun (Portland State) and Nick Witherill (Grand Canyon) transferred, forward James Watson was academically ineligible, transferred to a JC and is now at Kansas State, and Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto turned pro after their junior year.
--Thompson was taken 11th in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, Washington State's highest-ever draft pick. Casto signed to play in Turkey.
LAST YEAR: 22-13 overall, 9-9 in the Pac-10
HEAD COACH: Ken Bone, seventh year as head coach (38-28 in two years at Washington State; 93-65 career)
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've been working hard since the spring on to come together as a team. Just busting our tails to grow team chemistry, which I think will be our biggest asset this year. This is one of those years where it's going to have to be every man on the team." -- Senior F Abe Lodwick, on how the Cougars will compensate for the loss of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP: PG Reggie Moore, SG Faisal Aden, SG Marcus Capers, SF Abe Lodwick, PF Brock Motum.
LINEUP BREAKDOWN: Coach Ken Bone has indicated six players are clearly in the rotation, with junior transfer G Mike Ladd ready to challenge for a spot in the starting five. Moore, who struggled with an injury to his shooting wrist last season, is probably the team's best player and should score better than his 9.1 ppg average of a year ago. Capers is solid, and Aden hopes to solve the midseason slump he suffered after a hot start last season. Lodwick and a beefed-up Motum form the frontcourt duo, but both are more finesse than muscle.
SCOUTING THE NEWCOMERS: Redshirt sophomore PF D.J. Shelton could provide what the Cougars need most -- rebounding. The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder, nephew to former Oregon State and NBA power forward Lonnie Shelton, averaged 12.0 ppg and 6.7 rpg last season at Citrus JC in California. Washington State is his seventh school in as many years, dating back to the start of high school. SG Mike Ladd, who sat out last season after transferring from Fresno State, should give the Cougars another 3-point shooter. Freshman G DaVonte Lacy has a mature body and a perimeter scoring touch.
--Senior G Faisal Aden (12.7 ppg) looks to become more consistent this season. He scored 20 points or more five times in his first 10 games last year, then reached that plateau only twice more in the final 23 games.
--Would-be freshman F Greg Sequele, who signed a letter-of-intent last November, did not qualify academically and enrolled at the College of Southern Idaho.
--Sophomore G Royce Woolridge, a transfer from Kansas, is redshirting. Woolridge played in 15 games last season, averaging 2.8 minutes and 0.6 points.
--C Steven Bjornstad, a 6-foot-11 junior reserve from Vancouver, Wash., retired due to bad knees.
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