Cal MBB vs. Washington State 2014: A 1208-word Q & A with CougCenter

Jeff Gross

California looks to run its Pac-12 record to 5-0 today against the Washington State Cougars. Jeff, Sherwood, and Powers of CougCenter, SBNation's Washington State community, metaphorically sat down with us to talk about Klay Thompson's old squad. Thanks to the CougCenter panel for their organized responses - head over to CougCenter and say hi! They're a friendly bunch.

1) Ken Bone Hotseat Check: Hot tub, volcano, or surface of the sun?

Jeff: It's actually tougher to get a read on this than you might think. The results would suggest "surface of the sun," but there have been mitigating factors the past couple of years that could come into play when athletic director Bill Moos makes his decision at the end of the year. Starting point guard Reggie Moore was dismissed before last season, which drastically affected the offense and is the sort of thing you can't predict. The Cougars also have experienced some bad injury luck, including losing DaVonte Lacy for an extended time this year (first an appendectomy, then torn rib cartilage. I mean ... really?). Additionally, it's going to cost $1.7 million to make him go away. Now, he can be blamed for recruiting a point guard who never played a minute this year after dropping out of school before practices started, and he can be blamed for not bringing in enough talent to at least stay afloat in the wake of these injuries. The question is how much weight Moos will give the mitigating factors. Moos made some very public comments that weren't exactly what you'd call a "vote of confidence," so I think I'd probably settle on "volcano" given how embarrassingly the team has lost at times this year.

Sherwood: This is Bone's Pac-12 farewell tour. Most of the other schools are giving him gifts in a pregame ceremony. Might I suggest a plaque presented by Jerome Randle, who I believe scored 94% of his career points against the Cougs? (I'm not great with stats).

Powers: Yeah, I think it is volcano is a good way to put it. His butt is certainly worse for wear, but it hasn't been evaporated into nothing. But a few more losses like Stanford and there's no doubt he'll be sent off like Samuel Anders.

2) Without DaVonte Lacy, how did Wazzu almost tip Colorado in overtime?

Jeff: Two factors: A 56% eFG driven by shooting 13 of 23 from three-point range and solid halfcourt defense. The latter is a nice development from a team that has been positively dreadful on that end for most of Bone's tenure. In the end, though, the Buffs' transition game was just too much.

Sherwood: Colorado couldn't make a single shot further out than directly under the basket to save their lives. If it weren't for a 38-3 free throw discrepancy, WSU may have ran away with that game.

Powers: I think of it as more of "How the heck did WSU hit 13 of 23 3-pointers and still lose?" Colorado's ability to push the ball when it still had Spencer Dinwiddie was better than most, and WSU just didn't have the athleticism to contend in transition.

3) Coach Bone talked about using a more uptempo offense to take advantage of guard depth. The metrics say otherwise. How would you describe your offense?

Jeff: While I don't recall the timing that specific statement, I'm guessing it came before Danny Lawhorn, the speedy pass-first point guard Bone specifically recruited to jumpstart the offense, quit school. Without him, the offense is the same as it was last year when the Cougs didn't have a point guard: Walk the ball up the floor into a relatively stagnant motion offense that has difficulty getting into the lane resulting in about four of 10 shots being three pointers on a team that shoots just 32 percent from beyond the arc. I'd assume we'll see more of the same against Cal's stout interior defense.

Sherwood: As predictable as the passage of time, every fall Ken Bone talks about how WSU will be a faster team because of guard depth, and shortly thereafter, one guard will get kicked out of school and another's leg will fall off. And we're back to slow-and-pray.

Powers: The offense is a lot of passing around, because there isn't a true "playmaker" on the team. As Jeff said, this means lots of three-pointers at a slow pace. Also, the offense is just bad. Really bad.

4) Is Lacy going to be back any time soon? Without him, who provides the offense?

Jeff: Nope. Likely out another month or so. The shots have shifted to Dexter Kernich-Drew and Que Johnson, both of whom have been solid, but neither of whom have been as dynamic as Lacy. Johnson is a freshman who sat out last year as a partial qualifier and is easily the most talented player Bone has recruited. He's starting to come into his own, and it's hard to not draw comparisons to freshman Klay Thompson, as they are eerily similar in stature, style and statistically. He'll mostly shoot jumpers, but he can put it on the floor enough to keep defenses honest. Kernich-Drew is more of a catch-and-shoot guy who is prone to streaks. He can be removed fairly easily with a bit of attention.

Sherwood: Que may actually be 32 years old, so he may also be able to draw comparisons to Klay Thompson's older brother. Royce Woolridge is also a guy who can the handles to get past his defender, but if history is any indication, he'll avoid contact and miss an acrobatic layup (it'll look pretty, though!)

Powers: Every time they show Lacy on the sideline during telecasts, it looks like it hurts him to breathe thanks to a cartilage tear in his ribcage (sounds wonderful). It's been Johnson taking over Lacy's role as the "go-to-guy" and he's done a fine job. Unfortunately, if no one else steps up the way Kernich-Drew did against Colorado, there aren't many points to be found.

5) Transfer Jordan Railey was supposed to give you an inside presence. He doesn't look like he's playing much. Is he a stiff, or still rounding into form after being suspended?

Jeff: Stiff. I hate to be that callous, but all you have to do is look at a comparison of his stats at Iowa State and his stats now to see that he's really pretty much the same guy. He's playing more minutes, so the counting stats look better, but the rate-based stats reveal that it's just more of the same. He doesn't move well defensively and has very little in the way of an offensive game. Bone talked him up a lot last season, and he's done nothing to prove his coach right. He's continued to start, but Bone has had a short leash with him.

Sherwood: Jordan Railey is not a good basketball player. Full stop.

Powers: Railey has yet to make a single shot in Pac-12 play. He rebounds like a guard, even though he is 7-feet-tall. He fouls a lot because he gets beat a lot. I probably could have just said what Sherwood said and saved some space.

Klay Thompson | Grantland at NBA All Star (via Grantland)

6) Since it's tough to talk Wazzu basketball of the present, how about a pick me up for both Cougs and Bay Area folk: How awesome is Klay Thompson?!

Jeff: Super awesome!

Sherwood: I love Klay Thompson's jumper so much, I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Powers: Klay Thompson is super-duper awesome (take that Jeff), as long as we aren't talking about beard growin': http://cdn0.sbnation.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/26964921/20140115_kkt_st3_022.0.jpg

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