Almost time to say goodbye to a WSU great

SET THE CALENDAR for Saturday. Tune it in on the radio at 3:30 p.m. if you're out and about. Record it on the DVR if you must. But don't miss the home finale for one of the best Cougar basketballers to ever play the game in Pullman. And hell, given what's already happened this week in Wazzu hoops, might it also be the beginning of something, right at the end?

Saturday is Senior Day at Washington State, the last game Brock Motum and Mike Ladd are likely to ever play in front of the home crowd. It's been a disappointing season, there's no doubt about that. But coming off the stunning upset of UCLA, it seems once again like so much more is possible.

That's what happens when you're down two starters and still knock of the conference-leading Bruins wire-to-wire. That's what happens when the Pac-12 is so tightly bunched. This might be as close to 'anyone can beat anyone' as we've seen in years in the Pac-12. Just think back to all of the games WSU lost in the final few minutes this season.

Ladd may continue to sit out with injury come Saturday against USC, but Motum is almost certain to continue his season-long assault on the Cougar record books.

Motum went for 20 points and 11 rebounds in the UCLA upset, marking his fourth double-double of the season. He also moved by Marcus Moore that night into sixth all-time on WSU's career scoring list.

He accomplished that as he has all season -- despite double teams and being the opponent's primary focus night in and night out.

With 1,471 career points, Motum is just 26 points away from passing Mark Hendrickson (1993-96) for fifth all-time at WSU.

To move into fourth, ahead of the legendary Don Collins, the Cougs would need to secure at least a couple of games in the Pac-12 tournament next week plus Motum would have to go on a scoring tear. But fifth is well within his grasp. (Ike Fontaine is WSU's all-time leading scorer with 2,003 points.)

And at least a couple games in the tourney doesn't feel near as unlikely after Wazzu ran over UCLA. Sure, the Cougs will still be predicted to be a one-and-done team come tourney time, but how many times did WSU have a leg up on Pac-12 teams only to fall in the final minutes? How many missed free throws did they give away? How many missed opportunities were left begging?

And here's a thought. Now that the Cougs have "learned" how to win, might more potential be there for the taking? If that happens, Motum will undoubtedly be leading the charge.

Motum leads the Cougs with 17.9 points per game and 6.3 rebounds -- he's scored at least 11 points in all 30 games this season for a streak of 30-straight games with double-figure scoring.

In 17 Pac-12 contests, he's averaging 16.6 points.

It would be a boon to get a healthy Ladd back against USC and for the tournament but how game-ready would he be? He's missed the last six contests -- before that he reached double figures in 10 of his last 12. He remains second on the team with 11.4 points per game with a third-best 5.9 rebounds a game.

WSU fans will be excused if they're expecting the Cougs to fall back against USC, if they believe the UCLA win was more aberration than trend. But Ladd was well on his way to a very good season before being bitten by the injury bug. And might be asking too much but wouldn't it be something if he not only returned against USC or in the tournament -- but returned strong?

And what if Motum were to go on really take off at the same time? That would really be something. The beginning of something, right at the end.

  • Motum is ranked third in the conference and 46th in the nation in scoring and ranks 16th in the league in rebounding and fifth in minutes played.

  • Ladd is averaging 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in Pac-12 action.

  • A visual tour through the years with Brock Motum ...

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