Cougar hoops and the divvying up of minutes

OUTSIDE OF sophomore Josh Hawkinson's head-turning emergence, the two biggest surprises in the early going of Washington State's men's basketball season might be the minutes being turned in by freshman guard Ny Redding and junior forward Brett Boese.

Redding is averaging 25.6 minutes per game and has replaced Dexter Kernich-Drew in the starting lineup. Boese, meanwhile, is averaging 15.2 minutes per game, including a season-high 22 against Gonzaga.

Boese doesn't shoot a ton, but when he does he's making 'em count, with a team-leading 41.4 percent accuracy (12 of 29) from downtown. After the first two games of the season, when he played a combined 10 minutes, it appeared he would be an afterthought this season, but since then he's played no fewer than 13 minutes in every game.

Redding, meanwhile, is third on the team in overall field goal percentage (48.8 percent), just behind forward Josh Hawkinson (49.5) and backcourt mate Ike Iroegbu (49.2). Redding (pictured above right) also leads the Cougs in assists (43) and steals (8).

Head man Ernie Kent appears to have settled in on his rotation. Redding, Iroegbu, Hawkinson, DaVonte Lacy and Junior Longrus have each started the last five games, with Boese, Kernich-Drew and Que Johnson playing meaningful minutes off the bench and Jordan Railey coming in for spot duty.

JC transfer Aaron Cheatum, who averaged more than 15 minutes a game against UTEP and TCU to begin the season, appears to have fallen off the radar. In the last five games he's played a collective 10 minutes and didn't see any action against Gonzaga or Rice. Kent said following the UT-San Antonio game that Cheatum was struggling to find his rhythm in the system.

OVER ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE of Cougar basketball, the usual suspects -- Tia Presley, Lia Galdeira, Shalie Dheensaw, Dawnyelle Awa, Taylor Edmondson and Mariah Cooks -- are pulling down major playing time. But it's become pretty clear who's taking up the bulk of minutes vacated by graduated starting forward Sage Romberg. It's freshman Louise Brown (pictured above left). The 6-2 Aussie is averaging 21.4 minutes per game. She is second on the team behind Dheensaw in rebounds (6.4 per game) and blocks (8) and is averaging 3.6 points per game.

Of the other five true freshmen on the team, the only other one who is turning in double-digit playing time is Pinelopi Pavlopoulou. The 5-8 guard from Greece is averaging 14 minutes, 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game and is fifth on the team in assists (11). Of the remaining four freshmen, Caila Hailey has played in all nine games, averaging 4.2 minutes per outing; Ashley Bolston and Bianca Blarnu have played in eight games, averaging 7.3 and 4.0 minutes, respectively; and Nike McClure appears ticketed for a redshirt.

NEXT UP: The Cougar men are at Santa Clara on Saturday, then return home for finals week before hosting San Jose State on Dec. 21 and UC Davis on Dec. 28. They open Pac-12 play at Stanford on Jan. 2. The Cougar women play Montana State in Pullman on Dec. 20, visit Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Dec. 22, and then open Pac-12 play Jan. 3 at Arizona.

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