Throughout the season D.J. Shelton has struggled to get into any type of rhythm on offense. He hasn't been much of a presence in the low post for WSU and he's often found himself picking up quick fouls.
But things changed immensely at Oregon and Oregon State, when he combined for 20 points and 15 rebounds on 8-for-9 shooting.
"It's up right now (confidence) and I'm feeling really good," Shelton said. "We're all feeling good as a team and we're ready to make this push towards the end of the season."
Shelton's average minutes a game has climbed to 14.0 through this past weekend – as has his ppg (5.1) and rebounds (3.2). He is second in blocks (13) on the team behind senior guard Marcus Capers (17).
"He's a young kid who's been really up and down emotionally playing behind Brock (Motum) and Charlie (Enquist)," Capers said. "He came off the bench with plenty of energy and him coming one rebound away from a double-double against Oregon State was real big for us. It's just the little things that we need as we make this push heading into the conference tournament."
SHELTON THIS SEASON has been working closely with assistant coach Ben Johnson, who specializes with Cougar big men. Shelton said they've been focusing on keeping his hands strong, as well improving his jump hook. He feels that his game is getting more consistent overall, and that Coug Nation shouldn't think that last weekend was a fluke.
"The fans can expect that from me every time I step out on the court," Shelton said. "I feel like I'm getting better every time I'm out there and my confidence is growing."
In addition to Shelton, the Cougs also have junior Mike Ladd coming off his best game of the season in the 78-69 loss at Oregon on Saturday. Ladd scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting.
"Energy wise you really need stuff like that, especially with Michael (Ladd)," Capers said. "You always want to see a kid coming off an injury with some confidence. That's something you're always going to need with someone who hasn't played in a while."
THE COUGARS, (13-12 overall and 5-8 in Pac-12 play) face Arizona (18-8, 9-4) Thursday night at Friel Court (TV: Root, 6 p.m.) and Arizona State (8-17, 4-9) on Saturday (TV: Root, 5 p.m.). WSU will be looking to avenge the winless trip when they visited both schools a little over two weeks ago.
"I feel like in the Arizona game we just weren't focused and they took advantage of that," Capers said. "We were shocked and then we walked into Arizona State thinking we were going to beat them because we thought they were weak. We ended up 0-2 but we're a whole lot more focused now."
With the season winding down and the Pac-12 tournament looming, a winning homestand this weekend, and one that sees strong performances from Shelton and Ladd, would go a long ways towards lifting the Cougs' confidence overall.
"We have a little chip on our shoulder knowing we can compete with any team in this conference," Capers said. "We're just pretty much trying to show that Thursday against Arizona and Saturday against Arizona State."
Is Shelton's recent work a fluke or preview?
Cougfan Top Stories
CFC TV: Marks, Morrow, Taylor on OSU weekPULLMAN – Cougars Gabe Marks, Robert Taylor and Jamal Morrow all took to the podium on Monday and talked about where they see the Cougs headed into Week Eight. Marks wasn't shy on…
CougfanYesterday at 4:59 PM
Leach: Coin toss philosophy? Pull up a chairPULLMAN – Mike Leach spent a lengthy amount of time during Monday’s presser discussing his strategy and history of selecting captains for the coin toss. Leach also expressed his…
CougfanYesterday at 3:58 PM
COMMENTARY: Should Cougs root for Dawgs?!I NEVER THOUGHT I would say the words: It’s getting very hard for this particular CF.C analyst not to root for the Huskies. That isn’t just disappointing to me, it’s damned near…
CougfanYesterday at 2:25 PM
WSU's Robert Taylor: Pac-12 Special Teams PoWRUN IT BACK ROB, run it back to the house. Washington State kickoff returner Robert Taylor was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday. It is not only the first…
CougfanYesterday at 12:31 PM