A THIN WASHINGTON STATE bench again will be challenged at 12:30 p.m. Sunday when the Cougars play their final regular-season road game at Washington (TV: FSN). Senior guard Mike Ladd, who has been sidelined by with a knee injury for the last four games, again will not suit up against the Huskies. WSU coach Ken Bone discussed his absence and more during his Tuesday morning teleconference.
Bone said Mike Ladd, who averages 11.4 points per game, is “very doubtful” to play at UW. He hoped Ladd would be able to come back for last week’s games in Arizona, but Bone now does not have a timetable for his return. During his absence, Bone said Ladd has attended — but not participated in — practice and is working on flexibility training with his knee. He also has spent time in the Cougars’ HydroWorx, which is an underwater therapeutic pool.
With Ladd out, WSU (11-17 overall, 2-13 Pac-12) has used a variety of different players, most notably junior Will DiIorio, who played 28 minutes during Saturday’s 73-56 loss at Arizona. Seldom-used Spokane native Brett Boese also played eight minutes and made his first 3-pointer during conference play.
“If he made all of his shots, he would play more,” said Bone, laughing.
Bone then clarified that Boese, who is listed at 6 foot 7, 214 pounds, is in a difficult position because he lacks the strength to effectively guard power forwards and the foot speed to keep up with small forwards. Despite those limitations, Bone felt he needed to look at Boese against the Wildcats.
“We really felt we needed some perimeter shooting,” he said. “I love the way he played with confidence. I like that he wasn’t hesitant.”
Bone said whether Boese or walk-on freshmen guards Dominic Ballard and Bryce Leavitt play against the Huskies (15-13, 7-8) will be based on match-ups.
During the first meeting between the schools, which UW won 68-63 on Jan. 5, the match-up against the Huskies proved difficult for senior center Brock Motum. UW effectively fronted Motum and limited to 15 points during that contest. Bone said he believes some of the Cougars’ nonconference opponents leading up to that game — he mentioned Buffalo and Jackson State — did not help against the Huskies.
“I’m not sure that [schedule] prepared us,” he said.
Bone said his team will be prepared for whatever defense the Huskies use against Motum this time. He also feels Motum, who scored 20 points at Arizona, is playing better lately.
“I think he understands that he needs to be more versatile in scoring,” Bone said. “We don’t just want him to settle for shots on the perimeter.”
The Cougars likely will need Motum to play well to earn their first win at Alaska Airlines Arena since the 2010-11 season. Bone noted that UW, which upset Arizona State, 68-59, Saturday, is playing better lately. But Bone was reminded that WSU’s football team also pulled off an upset against the favored Huskies in November.
“Any win right now would help us salvage the season,” he said.
Because they only play once this week, Bone has lightened the practice schedule. The Cougars were off Sunday and practiced for about 70 minutes Monday. Bone said they also will take Thursday off before they fly into Seattle on Saturday out of Spokane.