Cougs still searching for the solution at the three

CHRIS ARNESON | Evergreen columnist

Oregon’s NBA first round draft prospect, senior forward Chris Boucher, put on a show against the Cougars with a barrage of threes on Saturday in Pullman in an 85-66 rout. The six-foot-10 monolith leads the (15-2) No.13 ranked Ducks into the conference schedule with a great deal of confidence and upside.

The Cougars, on the other hand, now find themselves asking more questions than they had before the Saturday tilt against the highly ranked Oregon Ducks.

Since the transfer of six-foot-six wing Derrien King, WSU has been in search of the right player to fill his role. Sophomore forward Robert Franks has taken the brunt of the responsibility in filling the position qualifications.

The Cougars are looking for a mid-sized slasher who can stretch the floor, catch lobs and make some hustle plays. Franks, the six-foot-seven sophomore, has the length for the job but at 240 pounds, he may have trouble consistently pressing the issue on the defense, although his ceiling is high.

Other than Franks, the Cougs have looked to fill the wing position with redshirt sophomore guard K.J. Langston and freshman forward Jeff Pollard playing sparingly. Standing at six-foot-four, Langston, a Chicago native, plays tough defense but is undersized for the wing role and is not a proven outside shooter. Pollard, a six-foot-nine frontcourt player from Utah, has the size to guard other team’s best big men but also cannot stretch the floor with his shooting and has not played enough to prove his game.

Washington State has struggled to replace the 25 minutes per game that King had provided this season. The Cougs have had solid guard play in Malachi Flynn, Ike Iroegbu and Charles Callison, along with immovable big men in forwards Josh Hawkinson and Conor Clifford. This team is in search of a flanker who can run the floor, make some open shots and guard the other team’s best scorer.

WSU has four winnable upcoming games on the slate, visiting Stanford and California, then hosting Utah and Colorado before traveling to Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 26. While that particular game in the desert later in the month may be a slugfest, the Cougs have plenty of time to tune up and round out their roster before March Madness begins.