Bone still seeking point guard answer

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Ken Bone is looking for clarity. Since Reggie Moore was dismissed from the program before the season, Bone has been searching for a primary ball handler. Bone said during his Tuesday teleconference that he hopes to figure that issue out — and others — before the Cougars begin Pac-12 play in January.

While Bone repeatedly has said WSU lacks a true point guard, he was hopeful that sophomore Royce Woolridge could handle those duties. Instead, senior Mike Ladd has done the majority of ball handling in recent games, including Sunday's 59-50 win against Fresno State. That again will be the case when WSU (6-4) hosts Jackson State at 7 p.m. Thursday (TV: Pac-12 Networks).

"I think he's doing a decent job and I foresee that continuing to happen where the job is shared," said Bone, referring to Ladd. "We understood that he was one of our better ball handlers."

Bone said Ladd and Woolridge will share point-guard duties, but he wants to figure out who will be the primary ball handler before the Cougars open conference play Jan. 5 against Washington.

That is not the only issue Bone is trying to sort out. He also said he wants to figure out what role suits junior forward D.J. Shelton best, particularly on offense. The 6-foot-10 Shelton, who averages 6.1 points per game, shoots just 42.9 percent from the field. But he has made 5 of 9 3-pointers.

"We're trying to figure out what D.J.'s role is going to be and where he can be most effective," Bone said.

He said one problem with playing Shelton on the perimeter instead of the low post is the presence of senior center Brock Motum, who averages a team-high 19.7 points per game and also is an effective on 3-pointers. Motum has made 11 of 32 attempts from beyond the arc this season.

"Now that Brock is hitting some 3s there's an advantage to having him on the perimeter," Bone said.

Motum, who averaged a conference-best 18 points per game last season, looks similar to Bone on the offensive end.

"I think he's a tad more aggressive looking to score," Bone said.

He said Motum is significantly better on the defensive end, where he is stronger at "denying the ball at the post and having a little better presence."

Motum continues to log many minutes along with sophomore guard DaVonté Lacy, who has played 28 minutes in both games since he returned after missing four games with a left knee injury. Bone said Lacy was checked out again by the training staff Tuesday morning and is healthy, which means he can expect to play 26 to 32 minutes per game.

"He's one of those guys you want to have out on the floor," Bone said.

  • Junior guard Will DiIorio, who sprained his left ankle during Wednesday's 71-69 loss against Gonzaga, will be out for another week or two, Bone said.

  • Bone said the Pac-12 gave the Cougars the option to play at noon or 5 p.m. Sunday against Fresno State for television purposes. He said the early time slot was chosen at the Bulldogs' request.

  • After Thursday's game, WSU does not compete again until Dec. 21 when it plays against Buffalo at KeyArena. Bone, whose team will take one day off from practice during that span, said the eight-day layoff is not his preference, but "sometimes you can't help that." He noted that the Cougars faced a similar layoff during the 2009-10 season and utilized it to well in practice. WSU finished 9-9 in conference play that season and advanced to the NIT semifinals.

  • Cougfan Top Stories