The beauty & bane of Lacy's scoring breakout

THE GOOD NEWS is that DaVonté Lacy, like Brock Motum and Klay Thompson before him, has developed into a premier scorer for Ken Bone's Cougar basketball team. The bad news is that DaVonté Lacy is averaging 21.4 points per game and no one else on the team is even close.

"I don't want to say I didn't want it to happen, I just wasn't anticipating it and I was kind of looking forward to having more parity," Bone said of Lacy's scoring prowess during his weekly media briefing Tuesday.

"I think it makes our team harder to defend when we have multiple guys that are capable of scoring. In the third game of the year Ike Iroegbu did a great job at Gonzaga and scored 18 or 20 in that game and I just expected a little bit more of that where certain guys would be scoring in the upper-teens or low-20s. I think that helps us because we become harder to defend as a group," said Bone.

Bone said philosophically he's not to the point where he would cut down on Lacy's field goal attempts in order to get other players more shots. If Lacy is providing points, he plans to "milk it."

Aside from Lacy, Bone said two of the team's better scoring threats are his point guards, Iroegbu and Royce Woolridge. They are both distributors and scorers.

And while Bone expects them "to deliver the ball and facilitate things and get other guys shots," he also needs them to be scoring threats.

"We try to give them freedom to look to score because it just can't be DaVonté," Bone said. "Because Ike and Royce are capable scorers we give them the freedom and try to create things where they get that opportunity."

Woolridge is averaging 10 points per game, second-best on the team behind Lacy, and leads the squad in assists at 2.1 per game. Iroegbu is third in scoring (8 ppg) and third in assists (1.8 pg) behind Woolridge and Lacy.

Three-point shooting has been the primary method of generating offense this season for Bone's unit. Forty-seven percent of the team's field goal attempts have come from downtown. That's an average of 26 per game, eighth-most in the nation.

Alas, they're only connecting on 31.8 percent of those attempts, tying them for 250th in the nation in long-distance accuracy.

Lacy, who has hit on 43 percent of his 75 three-point attempts, and Iroegbu (35 percent on 26 attempts) are the only Cougs with regular playing time who are hitting above 30 percent from long range.

Bone said he likes the high-volume shooting beyond the arc because in order to achieve efficiency from there, players need to have that green light. However, he said, some adjustments in approach may be in the offing.

"We're taking a good look at that right now. With four games to go prior to conference starting, we need to sharpen things up … are we really fooling ourselves shooting that many threes or should we be attacking it a different way," Bone said.

So the question at hand is whether to start looking for more mid-range or post shooting opportunities.

Another issue the Cougars are addressing is on defense.

Defending dribble penetration by guards continues to plague the Cougars. Bone noted the performances of Idaho's Glen Dean and TCU's Kyan Anderson as highlighting the team's struggles.

And the challenges will only become more difficult when Pac-12 play begins with the new hand-check rules in place this season. Working on defending dribble penetration without fouling against teams with pro-caliber talent is "a chore," Bone said.

"Our first (conference) game is against Arizona and they've got some guards that are probably going to end up in the NBA so we've got to continue to work with our guys and educate them. It's not like they're going to get quicker or stronger in the next three weeks but we're trying to educate them on how to guard guys, how to play smart pressure without fouling and anticipating penetration and try to force the ball to certain areas where they have help," said Bone.

NOTABLE:

  • After defeating Idaho in a 67-66 nail biter in Moscow on Saturday, the Cougars improved their record to 4-4. Lacy led the way with 23 points while D.J. Shelton grabbed 14 rebounds and scored 10 points.

  • The Cougars play three of their next four games in Pullman, and that fourth game is in Kennewick. They take on Pepperdine in Beasley this Sunday at 5 p.m.; San Francisco State on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. in Kennewick; UTEP on Dec. 21 at 5:30 in Beasley; and Mississippi Valley on Dec. 28 at 5:00 in Beasley. All four games will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.

  • The Cougs open Pac-12 play on the road against Arizona (Pac-12 Networks) on Jan. 2 and Arizona State (ESPNU) on Jan. 5.

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