At the start of the season, there were realistic hopes for three of the four Northwest men's basketball teams to make the NCAA Tournament. Those hopes are long gone for everyone outside of Eugene. What happened is simple enough; the Cougars, Huskies and Beavers simply lost too many games. Why it happened is much harder. With two games left in the season, an analysis of what went wrong is needed.
Projected Record: 21-10 Actual Record 16-13
For a team stocked with talent like the Huskies, their fall from a tournament berth a year ago is the most shocking. While C.J. Wilcox has performed admirably, many of the others did not follow suit. Aziz N'Diaye was inconsistent as a scorer, though his rebounding was excellent. Abdul Gaddy improved his scoring to twelve points per contest, but his turnovers reached three per games, and the team as a whole averaged more turnovers per game (13) then assists (12). Ball control turned out to be the biggest weakness, and it cost them dearly. The biggest example was February 7th versus UCLA, a game that the Bruins won on a buzzer-beater, but a game that the Huskies kept the Bruins in the game with 19 turnovers.
Oregon State Beavers
Projected Record: 19-12 Actual Record 13-16
The Beavers starting five is as good as any in college basketball. Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, Ahmad Starks, Joe Burton, and Eric Moreland can each carry the team on any given night. Which is why the Beavers 3-13 record in the Pac-12 is so disappointing. While the early season loss of center Angus Brandt to an ACL tear hurt the depth, it should not have weakened the team to this extent. At the end of the day, depth was the problem. The Beavers bench averaged only twelve points per contest, and the starters fatigue showed, with every starter averaging at least two turnovers a game. Fans are left to wonder how things could have been different if Brandt had been healthy all year.
Washington State Cougars
Projected Record: 17-14 Actual Record 11-18
The formula for success in Pullman was simple enough: build support around Brock Motum, and let him carry the team. DaVonte Lacy and Mike Ladd were the two to do that. While it may not be effective against top tier teams, it should have been enough to at least get a .500 record. What happened was a team that is currently 265th in the nation in scoring, 231st in shooting, and have lost 10 of their previous 11 games. Motum has done his job (he has scored in double-figures in every game this season). Mike Ladd has done his job (he has averaged 14.5 points per game over his last 12 games). Lacy has done his job (14.2 points per game over his last eight games). Everyone else? The bench is averaging four points per game over the last nine games. The lack of bench scoring, and the inability to allow Ladd, Lacy, and Motum time to rest has swallowed the Cougars chances.