Cougars fine feeding senior forward Motum

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SEATTLE — Washington State basketball coach Ken Bone tells the story of how he told his team at a recent practice that it had to score on two of its next three possessions, and decide itself what was most likely to accomplish that.

“Boom, boom, boom,” Bone said Thursday after his team worked out at KeyArena. “All three plays went to Brock.”

Bone used it to illustrate his belief that there’s total buy-in among the Cougars to senior forward Brock Motum’s ability. Still, that doesn’t mean Bone wouldn’t mind one of the other WSU players to emerge as another option besides the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer Friday night against Buffalo in the Cougar Hardwood Classic at KeyArena.

“They might be the most cohesive group I’ve ever been around,” Bone says of his 7-4 team. “They appreciate and respect the best player, and that’s not always the case. They understand Brock Motum’s our guy and they embrace it.”

“Not always” includes last year, Bone said.

“It was a challenge,” he said. “I won’t say names, but there was a certain guy that really struggled with that. That happens. Even when Klay Thompson (the NBA first-round draft pick in 2011) was with us, I felt there was a guy that struggled.

“Basketball can be a very egotistical game. People want to get their points.”

Motum averages 20.4 points. The only other scorer in double figures is sophomore guard DaVonte Lacy, as Rainier Beach product Mike Ladd has sacrificed some scoring while playing considerable time at point guard after the dismissal of Reggie Moore earlier this fall.

“Anything to help the team,” said Ladd, who added that the team’s unselfishness regarding Motum isn’t completely innate.

“Coach always reminds us, too,” he said, smiling.

However they accomplish it, the Cougars need to step up their scoring. With Motum struggling behind the three-point line (.314), they’re hitting only .315 from there as a team.

The Bulls (4-7), from the Mid-American Conference, have their own point-guard issues. Jarod Oldham, who was averaging 10.1 points a game, dislocated a wrist and sprained ligaments in practice last week, and may be out for the year.

“I thought we were finding our way,” said coach Reggie Witherspoon. “When that happens, you’re back to finding your way a little bit.”

The Bulls’ top two scorers are forwards Javon McCrea and Will Regan. A 58-percent three-point shooter in the early going, Regan was an early recruit of ex-WSU coach Tony Bennett at Virginia, played there for a year and then transferred.

“The style of play didn’t fit me ideally,” Regan said before the Bulls’ practice Thursday. “It wasn’t my strength and I wasn’t happy there. I enjoyed playing for him. He’s a great guy and I have no regrets about giving it a try.”

A crowd of 8,000-9,000 is expected.

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