“They’re just such great kids that they’re not as physical as I would like them to be down there (near the basket),” Bone said. “I wish they had a little bit more of a nasty side.”
That might be the biggest complaint Bone can muster about Motum in particular. The 6-foot-10 junior, who hopes to play for his native Australia at the Summer Olympics in London this year, has emerged as WSU’s best player in his first season as a full-time starter.
“He’s doing a great job,” Bone said.
“I’m playing OK,” Motum said, “but I just wish we could win (more).”
MOTUM LEADS the Cougars with 15.3 points per game (sixth in the Pac-12), 6.4 rebounds (tied for 11th) and 55.6 percent shooting from the field (seventh among official qualifiers). He would rank 11th in 3-point shooting percentage at 41.9 (13 of 31), but he needs three more baskets to qualify.
“He’s a prolific scorer,” Enquist said.
“I wish we didn’t have to play him in the post so much,” Bone said, “but at times, I feel we’re forced to.”
Motum’s ability to hit 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers, combined with his quality post moves, makes him an unusually versatile scorer for a 6-10 player.
“Makes him hard to guard,” Bone said.
The 245-pound Motum has gained about 40 pounds since arriving in Pullman (“I was skinny”), but he’s not as physical as Bone would like when it comes to defense and rebounding. Still, Motum says Bone doesn’t have to worry about him being too “nice.”
“Off the court, it’s cool to be a good person,” Motum said. “I wouldn’t want to be an ass all the time off the court. On the court, it’s important to have a bit of mongrel in you. It all comes back to just wanting to win. I want to win really bad, so whatever it takes to do that, I’ll do.”
MOTUM LED THE Pac-10 in field-goal shooting percentage at 59.9 last season, when he made his first nine college starts and averaged 7.6 points and 3.0 rebounds. In 2009, Motum led the Under-19 World Championships (won by a U.S. team that included WSU’s Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto) in field-goal shooting percentage at 60.0.
Motum, eager to develop his game and improve his chances of playing pro basketball, gave his verbal commitment to attend WSU before he ever visited campus. Ben Johnson, the lone holdover from Tony Bennett’s coaching staff when Bone was hired three years ago, did the initial recruiting work on Motum.
Motum did wind up visiting Pullman before his freshman year, and he stayed true to the Cougars even when schools recruited him after Bennett’s departure.
“Guys like Brock, you like to see succeed, because he’s such a great, great kid,” Bone said. “He’s all about the team winning. He’s not selfish in any sense.”
Motum was born and raised in Brisbane, a city of 2 million, but he’s adjusted to life in a small town.
“Pullman’s good,” Motum said, “because you’re able to focus. You don’t have much to do besides school and basketball.”
Xbox is one of the primary forms of Pullman entertainment for Motum, who shares a duplex with teammates Abe Lodwick, Patrick Simon and Enquist.
“We play online with each other,” Enquist said with a smile. “We’ve got headsets so we can talk to each other in the next room. We’re out of control!”
MOTUM HAS RETURNED home each of the past two summers, and Enquist visited his good buddy in Brisbane last year.
“It was awesome,” said Enquist, whose family has welcomed Motum into their Edmonds home during Christmas breaks.
Motum, a psychology major, said he’s excited to have his parents and lone sibling (an 18-year-old sister) come to Pullman next month to watch him play in college for the first time. He just hopes the Cougars have turned things around by then, since they’re 1-3 in the Pac-12 heading into Sunday’s road game with the Washington Huskies (4 p.m., ROOT Sports).
“Inconsistent – I think that’s what probably would sum up us and them at this point in the season,” Motum said. “Sunday, because it’s such a rivalry game, I think we’ll both be up for the game. I think it will be a really good game.”