Lodwick, Harmeling face shooting woes head on

PULLMAN -- Daven Harmeling and Abe Lodwick shared in the euphoria of a rare Washington State victory at UCLA last Saturday, but the two Cougar players are no different than any other proud athletes in that they wish they could have contributed more to the win. Alas, Harmeling and Lodwick are "designated shooters" whose shots have gone awry this season.

Harmeling played six scoreless minutes at UCLA, and Lodwick never left the bench.

After losing top scorers Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver to graduation last year, the Cougars were counting on Harmeling and Lodwick to provide outside shooting this season. It hasn't worked out, to put it kindly.

Harmeling, a senior forward, lost his starting job and averages just 4.4 points per game while shooting a career-low 34.5 percent from the field (31.4 percent on 3-pointers). He's scored more than one basket and scored more than five points only once in the past 17 games, when he went 3 for 11 and scored nine points in a loss at Arizona on Jan. 31.

Lodwick, a redshirt freshman guard, has fared even worse. He's made just 7 of 38 shots, including 3 of 27 from beyond the arc. That translates to 18.4 shooting from the field and 11.1 percent shooting on 3's. He's scored 17 points in 18 games for a 0.9 average, and he's totaled 11 minutes of playing time while appearing in just three of the past eight games.

To their credit, Harmeling and Lodwick have maintained their upbeat, affable personalities and "man up" when asked about their shooting woes.

"I don't know why I've shot like I have," said Harmeling, who ranks 11th in WSU history in 3-pointers made (124) and 3-point shooting percentage (36.9). "Once a shot misses, everyone is like, ‘Oh, you're shooting flat. You're doing this or that.'

"My shot's always been pretty flat. It's probably true I've shot it a little flatter (this season)."

Lodwick, Harmeling and coach Tony Bennett acknowledge that it's difficult for a shooter to get into a rhythm when his playing time is limited. Lodwick averages just 6.9 minutes per game, but he notes that it's his job "to earn those minutes." Playing time is hard to come by when you're 0 for 6 from the field and haven't scored a point since nailing a 3-pointer in a home loss to UCLA Jan. 22.

"I wish I had an answer myself (for the shooting problems)," Lodwick said. "It'd make things a lot easier.

"At the start of the year, I shot it better. For whatever reason, I missed a few shots early. As a shooter, you've got to keep shooting. I kind of let it get into my head."

Bennett said Lodwick "shows some nice signs in practice," including a sizzling shooting exhibition last week that Bennett described as "a thing of beauty."

"I still have hope for him," Bennett said. "He can certainly shoot. He's bangin' 'em in in practice. He's a tough kid."

Lodwick said he's worked on quickening his release by not dipping his hands before shooting. He said he was reminded not to dip when he watched one of assistant coach Matt Woodley's game films from Drake, where Woodley was a quality outside shooter.

"He was just showing me to brag -- I needed to get SOMETHING out of it!" Lodwick joked.

Bennett points out that Harmeling has "done some good things on defense," whereas a lack of quickness has been an issue for Lodwick on defense. Bennett labels Harmeling "a conscientious kid who wants it so bad," and the two have expressed an interest in possibly coaching together in the future.

"He's always been a little bit more of a streaky shooter," Bennett said. "Mechanically, his shot is a little different -- a little more movement and motion."

Lodwick promises to keep working -- "Good things never come easy" -- with an eye on the next three years at WSU. Harmeling wants to finish his playing career with a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, but he knows it's a long shot for his 14-13 team.

"Team-wise, I've been very disappointed, to be honest," Harmeling said. "When you wear a Washington State jersey and play for Coach Tony and in the system we're in, we're not supposed to lose the way we've been losing in terms of beating ourselves, losing leads, being sloppy with the ball, things like that. Like poor defense in crucial situations.

"That's supposed to be our trademark (good defense). We've been opposite of that for the most part, so it's been really disappointing."

Harmeling said some of that disappointment was erased by the 82-81 win at UCLA. Only once in the previous 51 trips to UCLA had the Cougars emerged victorious.

"Regardless of whatever happens the rest of this year -- if we win 'em all or lose the rest of our games -- that'll be a game I'll always remember," Harmeling said.

Harmeling's actions at UCLA left a lasting impression on Bennett and Dick Bennett, Tony's father and predecessor at Washington State. Father and son met after the game, and Tony said Dick told him, "‘You should have seen Daven on the bench just coaching those kids and encouraging them.' And after the game, right when the game ended and we beat them, he ran into the stands and gave my dad a big hug.

"He was probably the happiest guy."

Bennett has always expressed admiration for Harmeling as a person. The coach's respect for Harmeling may have grown this season when things have often gone poorly for Harmeling.

"I'm just so pleased how he's handled it, and the season's not over yet," Bennett said. "There's a lot of fight left in him.

"He'll have his chance, and he'll have a chance to play a prominent role in a couple of these games coming up."

TV TIMES: Each of the Cougars' final three regular-season games will be televised by FSN: Arizona tonight (6 pm); Arizona State on Saturday (2 pm); and Washington on March 7 at 2:30 pm.

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