As I write this intro paragraph, the Cougs spirited comeback against cross-state rival the University of Washington failed; just like every other comeback this season. This season has been brutal on the fans, players, and program. It has also put the man in charge of the program in a very bad spot with a good chunk of the fan base.
The question that is driving the fans is, where the hell did it all go wrong?
Last season, Shelton/Motum/Moore/Lacy/Ladd put on a stunning show in January and February; the squad barely lost its first game in the Pac-12 tournament to a determined Oregon State squad, and they put on a show in the CBI….say what you will about that tournament, it brought Pitt to Pullman…..hell, this team almost became the third group of players in program history to have back-to-back 20-win seasons.
Where the hell did it all go wrong?
I can actually tell you where the hell it all went wrong, it went wrong when Reggie Moore got kicked off of the team. Jeff Nusser at CougCenter was able to actually find statistics that supported the conclusion many people had when Moore was booted, and that’s that this years team wasn’t going to be any good. Unfortunately, the team started out fast in their non-conference schedule and the expectations changed….then Pac-12 play started again, and those expectations came crashing back to reality.
But there is one question that keeps surfacing its ugly head; how can one player’s untimely departure cause such a catastrophic failure to a team? The fact that there is no suitable back-up, is certainly the coaches fault…right? Unfortunately in this case it’s a combination of bad luck and Reggie’s natural talent; that talent made it clear that he was far and away the best point guard on the roster his freshmen year. It made it so that position was locked down for at three years…it made it so that Xavier Thames had to transfer in order to get playing time. That’s really only part of this seasons story though.
The other part was the complete collapses that would happen late in the games. Like clockwork, the offense and defense would stop working with roughly five minutes left to go in the game. Fans began to wonder if it was a lack of adjustments from the man in charge that would allow the Cougs to fall apart in the final five minutes; and other fans began to wonder if it was just a lack of talent, that the deficit between the squads was the reason the collapses always started around the same time.
Those who don’t want Ken Bone coaching the team say it doesn’t matter; that both suggested reasons for the collapses are all on the Coach. After all, it’s he who makes the adjustments and he who recruits the players; HE is the one who needs to take the blame.
And in a way they are right, Bone should have been able to recruit better talent…there should have been signs that things were changing to avoid the late game collapses…but it appeared to remain the same.
And that’s where they are wrong.
There are so many moving parts to a program that we aren’t privy too that it is really hard to judge. Look, this season was an unmitigated disaster. There is no denying that; there is also no use in denying that there are definitely somethings that Ken Bone could have done to make it so the loss of Moore wasn’t as devastating as it was, before the season started. That being said, there also might have been several things that it seemed Bone could have done, once the season started, to prevent it from being such a disaster.
Bone is here for at least another season, hopefully it is better than the last…if it’s not…well let’s not think about that yet.
Proud alum of Washington State University, crazy sports nut, and drinker of beer.