Motum, Lodwick battle hard for starting spot

PULLMAN – Yes, Klay Thompson can shoot lights out, and yes, the Cougs as a whole look sharper than they did a year ago. But the biggest thing that stood out Friday night in the Cougar basketball team's public scrimmage session was without question the play of forwards Brock Motum and Abe Lodwick, who are battling out for the starting line up.

Motum, who added 20 pounds to his 6-9 frame over the offseason and now checks in at 230, pulled down a plethora of rebounds in the Cougars' three, 10-minute scrimmages at Bohler Gym, and scored 13 points.

His new bulk is helping.

"It's going to allow me to be more physical and help out the team," Motum said. "Hopefully it helps me in all aspects of the game."

His added weight was evident during the team's scrimmage with Motum banging his body down low consistently. There were times where he was defending starting center DeAngelo Casto, who now weighs 255, and was able to hold his own.

"Brock's put on some extra weight and I think it's good weight," head coach Ken Bone said. "It's muscle and we really needed him to do that because we needed some more bodies down low."

Motum, a sophomore, currently finds himself in a see-saw battle with junior Abe Lodwick, who was on absolute fire Friday night and showcased his pure shot throughout the evening. Lodwick started off slow, scoring only three points in the first scrimmage, but really came on in the second period.

Lodwick went 3-of-3 from downtown and added a pair of free throws to lead all scorers during the second interval with 11 points.

"It was just one of those nights where I just felt like the shots were falling," Lodwick said. "There are nights where they won't go down but I got some open looks and my teammates were hitting me and it's my job to knock those down."

In total, Lodwick finished with 19 points.

"I know my role on the team is to set screens and shoot the ball," Lodwick said. "I just have to make sure I'm sound offensively."

The Cougars' starting lineup would appear to be set, except for the 4 spot where Lodwick and Motum are battling. The other starters figure to be Casto, Thompson, Marcus Capers and Reggie Moore.

During the final scrimmage, the Cougars put what Bone called his strongest seven on the crimson squad. Lodwick entered the floor with the starting five.

Thompson continues to show why he is a Preseason Wooden Award candidate with some great shooting. Thompson was able to catch fire early, and was able to knock down some jumpers with Capers all over his grill. Meanwhile, JC transfer Faisal Aden heated up late and was able to knock down some jumpers with consistency.

So what did Bone see from his team during their final scrimmage before next week's exhibition against Lewis-Clark State?

"We have a number of guys who can shoot the ball and they did a good job playing together as a team," Bone said. "But I think we definitely have to play with more intensity. We need to get after it and play more aggressive defensively and do a better job rebounding."

"Those are two big concerns. They've been concerns since last year and we need to straighten those things out sooner than later."

Along with Thompson, Capers and Casto and redshirt junior Lodwick are the upperclassmen on the squad whom Bone is depending on to take charge of the young squad as the season begins.

"Well there's a lot on their shoulders," Bone said. "They're the guys that have been here. They know the tradition of this program, they've been through the conference a couple of times so if they can't lead us then nobody will. We need them to lead by example in a lot of ways whether it's on the court or off the court."

Lodwick said he understands the team must come together as one, something that has already been significantly changed from last season.

"I think a huge difference for us is that we're coming together more as a unit," Lodwick said. " Last year there were times where we were really fragmented. I think it was because we were under a new coaching staff last year. I definitely feel there's a sense of closeness that we didn't have last year."

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Newcomers Mike Ladd (Fresno State transfer) and freshman Patrick Simon had impressive performances shooting the ball. Ladd, who will sit out this season because of transfer rules, scored nine points in the opening series to lead all players. As for Simon, he showed great touch behind the three point line, and Bone said the talented prospect from Ephrata is a great shooter, but needs to improve on his passing abilities.

  • After finishing in last place last season, the Cougars were this week predicted to finish in the fifth in the Pac-10 by media. Motum scoffed at the prediction. "No reaction to that," he said. "We haven't done anything yet so until we prove ourselves then none of that is worth anything."

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