Could defensive switch be in store for Cougs?

BROCK MOTUM

KEN BONE switched from a zone to man-to-man scheme after watching Arizona State freely make shots against the Cougs during the first game between the teams. Could a similar change be in store when the Cougars host Washington at 5 p.m. Saturday (TV: Root Sports)? Bone discussed those issues and more during his Tuesday Pac-12 teleconference.

WSU (14-13 overall, 6-9 conference) struggled in the final 10 minutes of their first game against the Huskies (19-8, 12-3) in the zone. But it was for different reasons than what happened in its first match up against the Sun Devils.

The Cougars were dominated on the boards as UW grabbed 22-4 edge in offensive rebounds and 46-24 overall.

"I think we could've done a better job of screening out and battling on the boards," Bone said.

But he also credited the Huskies for some of that. He said players, such as 7-foot Aziz N'Diaye (7.7 rebounds per game), Darnell Gant (4.6) and Desmond Simmons (5.6) give UW "a great inside presence." Guard Terrence Ross (6.8) also is an elite rebounder as he has helped the Huskies average 40.3 boards per game, which ranks sixth nationally.

"It's a difficult challenge we -- and other teams -- have faced against them," said Bone, referring to the UW's quickness and aggressiveness.

Bone did not tip which defense he will use against the Huskies, but said he mostly was satisfied with the zone during the first game, which UW won 75-65 on Jan. 15.

"For the most part, I thought our zone we very effective," he said. "Whether we zone or man, we're going to have to know where those guys are at all times."

He was referring to Ross, who scored 30 points against WSU last time and averages 15.6 points per game, and freshman guard Tony Wroten. He averages a team-high 16.5 points per game. Bone also noted that the Huskies' top 3-point shooter, guard C.J. Wilcox (40.5 percent) did not play Jan. 15.

UW FACES ITS own defensive challenge against the Cougars. Junior forward Brock Motum averages 20.7 points per game in Pac-12 play, which is the best mark in the conference.

"As the season has gone on, I think he has become more confident and aggressive," Bone said.

Bone said he envisioned a scenario before the season where Motum led the team in scoring, but he thought that would be at about 15 points per contest. He thinks WSU's offensive scheme has translated well to Motum's abilities.

"I think it helps him that we're getting up and down the floor," Bone said. "We give him the freedom to shoot 3s. He has a lot of flexibility and freedom in scoring."

He said other factors in Motum's development include playing time -- he averages 32.1 minutes per game after playing 19.2 last season -- and his offseason work in Australia. Motum is listed at 6-foot-10, 245 pounds.

"We were staying in touch with the guy that was working him out," Bone said. "He felt he was getting better. He put on 15 to 18 pounds and we think that also helped him."

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