Lacy says Bone ouster talk 'bunch of crap'

PULLMAN – The Washington State Cougars have wobbled their way through the first half of the Pac-12 Conference basketball season, but WSU players insisted Wednesday that public and media speculation about coach Ken Bone's future has not affected their play.

"No. No. You've got to play in the moment," said junior guard DaVonte Lacy, who hopes to return from a rib injury Saturday against visiting Washington (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). "If you're worrying about this and this, that takes your attention away from what's in the moment.

"Of course, there's talk. Everybody's going to talk if you don't win games. Somebody's got to get blamed.

"Unfortunately, it's him right now. My personal opinion, I think it's a bunch of crap."

Senior forward D.J. Shelton and junior point guard Royce Woolridge said they agree with Lacy that the Bone speculation has not impacted the team.

"We don't listen to none of that," Shelton said.

"We don't pay any attention to that," Woolridge said. "We're worried about this season and winning some games."

Lacy, WSU's best player and a respected team leader, has been sidelined since Jan. 5 at Arizona State. The Cougars did not practice Monday and Tuesday, but Lacy joined the team for practice Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm feeling good," he said prior to the practice. "Just progressing day by day. Saturday was always the goal to come back."

Lacy leads the Cougars with 17.7 points, 1.5 steals, 47.6 percent field-goal shooting and 39.8 percent 3-point shooting. He's second in rebounds (4.7) and assists (1.6).

"He's one of the best players in the league," Oregon State star Roberto Nelson said last Wednesday after the Beavers won in Pullman.

The Cougars (8-12, 1-7 Pac-12) desperately need Lacy's sweet jump shot. Washington State ranks 335th among 351 NCAA Division I teams with 62.1 points per game and 313th in field-goal shooting percentage at 41.3.

The numbers are even worse in Pac-12 play – 49.1 points and 35.9 percent shooting. Those figures, along with a 61.8 percent effort at the free-throw line in league games, rank a distant last in the conference.

"I know it's killing him (Lacy) to see this happen and he can't do nothin' about it," Shelton said.

The Cougars sank just 10 field goals last Sunday against Oregon, and only two of those baskets came inside the 3-point line.

"We've got to attack more," Shelton said. "I think we need to get better shots."

"I feel like we get open shots," Woolridge said. "We execute the offense pretty well. It just comes down to getting some confidence and knocking down some shots."

Shelton said a four-game losing streak has not affected the team's overall confidence level.

"It has not dropped," he said. "It's still a get-better-everyday attitude."

Woolridge agreed, saying, "We're a family. We're all really close … we know how good we can be."

The Cougars also know how good the Huskies (13-8, 5-3) and senior guard C.J. Wilcox can be. Wilcox ranks second to Nelson in the Pac-12 with 19.6 ppg.

"They're a good team," Lacy said. "They like to run in transition. Obviously, they've got one of the best shooting guards in the country in Wilcox."

Lacy isn't too shabby himself. The Tacoma native would love to help bring an end to Washington's six-game winning streak over the Cougars, but Lacy said he won't rush back into action too soon just to play the Huskies.

"I'm not coming back to be average," he said, his eyes burning with intensity. "I'm coming back to be what I was before, and I didn't think I was an average player before."

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