If Lacy plays, Bone can stay


Then-junior DaVonté Lacy scans the court during a home game against Washington, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.

With the return of junior guard DaVonté Lacy, the flow of the Cougar offense returned as well on Saturday against the rival Washington Huskies. 

Three players, including Lacy, finished in double figures, and the Cougars were able to generate enough scoring to win 72-67, which was only their second victory in conference play this season. 

Three players scoring in double figures was something that fans haven’t seen often this season. Entering the game against UW, only Lacy and redshirt freshman guard Que Johnson had average point totals greater than 10. 

The offense has simply lacked a sense of urgency this season, and that returned against the Huskies. Perhaps it was the rivalry game that sparked redshirt senior forward D.J. Shelton to dunk over UW defenders in the paint. The lack of conference wins could have motivated the team to play faster and with more fire as well.

Maybe it was the return of the team’s star player that got the offense moving. 

 “It’s not just the numbers (Lacy) puts up. It’s just his presence,” Head Coach Ken Bone said. “We know we’ve got a good player who’s confident, who’s a leader, and it showed up many times during the course of the game.”

Before this game, the Cougars seemed sluggish in running their plays and waited for openings to develop. However, this time they made things happen. They drove to the basket and made their own openings. They passed the ball quickly and often, which allowed for open shots all over the floor. 

Maybe that is how the Cougars scored 70 points for only the second time in conference play. 

However, despite the dazzling offense that built a lead that reached 11 in the second half, the Cougars easily could have let this game slip through their paws. If Shelton hadn’t provided a dominant double-double performance with 20 points and 18 rebounds, WSU might have dropped yet another game. If Lacy had been missing again, the team probably would have dragged its heels to another loss. 

Two glaring issues presented themselves in the game against UW that showed the Cougars still aren’t where they need to be, even with Lacy in the lineup. 

The defense did not respond well in transition and gave up easy baskets at the other end of the floor. They also left too many open shooters on the perimeter, which allowed the Huskies to shoot 40 percent from beyond the arc. 

Additionally, the game became close toward the end, and the Cougars could not hit free throws to close out the game. The reason the game was even close in the first place was because the Cougars shot 61.8 percent from the foul stripe, which allowed the Huskies to intentionally foul and cash in at the other end with 3-pointers to close the gap. 

With all the talk about firing Bone, it became abundantly clear on Saturday that it is up to the players to make the changes necessary to win games. It is the players who shoot the ball and miss. It is the players who ultimately run the offense efficiently or not. It is the players who make plays. 

Clearly, Lacy’s and the Cougars’ success are intertwined this season, but it is up to all the players to utilize Lacy’s presence on the court and turn it into victory. He can’t score all the points and neither can Shelton or Johnson. It takes a team of players who have the intensity to dominate on both ends of the floor. 

If the Cougars can shore up the defense and the free-throw shooting and maintain the fast-paced offense, they will turn things around before the season ends.