The new look Washington State Cougars Men’s Basketball team is off to an up-and-down start. Under first-year head coach Kyle Smith, the group has placed an emphasis on defense. They currently boast a 5-4 record and are riding a two-game win streak. Even though their record is mediocre, the reconstruction of the program is underway, and it’ll be interesting to see how this season plays out.
This article is going to examine three things to know about the 2019-20 version of WSU’s Men’s hoops.
The sophomore forward is by far the Cougars’ most talented scorer. He stands at 6-foot-6 and his long arms make him a nightmare to defend.
His best trait is his ability to create his own shot off the dribble. He has the capacity to shoot three-pointers, attack the rim and knock down a 15-foot jumper. On top of that, his awesome hairstyle resembles “Sideshow Bob” from the “Simpsons.”
He may be the best all-around scorer that the Palouse has seen since Klay Thompson. It is likely that he’ll be a First Team All-Conference player by the time his college career is over.
However, he still has room to improve his game, particularly on defense. Under the tutelage of Smith, it’s likely that these concerns have already been addressed.
He’ll also need to add about 15 pounds of muscle if he wants to be a legitimate NBA prospect.
This season he’s averaging 20.1 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
Pollard is the exact type of player who didn’t get opportunities in Ernie Kent’s system.
The senior from Utah is a hard-nosed defensive player and hustles after everything, and I mean everything.
Last year he could be considered a defensive specialist due to his limited offensive game. However, he put in work in the offseason and can now knock down an open three-pointer. This addition to his repertoire places pressure on opposing defenses and creates space down low for a Cougars team that is limited in size.
Even though Elleby may get most of the hype, WSU will go as far as Pollard takes them. His boxing out, defensive pressure, and intangibles make him the perfect senior leader and a player to build the program around. The young guys may even learn to take a charge under his guidance.
He currently averages 9.1 points per game, 4.9 assists, and the style of a modern-day cowboy. He provides energy that people seem to naturally flock toward.
Before Smith became the man in charge of the Cougs, he was the head coach at the University of San Francisco, where he boasted a 63-40 record in three years. His teams at USF also posted three consecutive 20-win seasons and qualified for two postseason tournaments.
He likes to implement the acronym “DRT” into his team’s culture; DRT stands for defend, rebound, and take care of the ball. This mantra may prove successful in the Palouse where the Cougs ranked 330th in overall defense last year… ya… that bad.
His attitude on defense may ingrain a toughness into the Cougs that has been lacking over the past five years.
His strategy is influenced by former WSU head coach Tony Bennett; the ex-Coug won the national championship last season at the University of Virginia.
So far this year, it’s obvious that WSU is actually trying on defense; this is a blessing to see, especially considering their ineptitude in previous seasons.
It’s still very early in his tenure, but he may be the man to bring a winning team to the Palouse. The Cougs have not made the NCAA tournament since the 2007-08 season.