Bone: Changes to starting lineup in store?
ABE LODWICK Senior Correspondent
Posted Jan 24, 2012

CHANGE MIGHT NOT seem necessary with Washington State coming off its most successful week of the season, besting the two first place teams in the Pac-12. But some might argue that bringing the Pac-12 Player of the Week off the bench does not add up, either. Coach Ken Bone discussed the starting lineup and more during his Tuesday teleconference as the Cougars prepare for Thursday’s game at Arizona.

Senior guard Faisal Aden averaged 28.5 points per game and converted 19 of 29 shots to lead WSU (11-8 overall, 3-4 conference) past a pair of first-place teams, Stanford and California, last week. Bone said he is considering reinserting him and another senior, forward Abe Lodwick, into the starting lineup at 7:30 p.m. versus the Wildcats (13-7, 4-3).

“There have been some thoughts, but we have not settled on anything,” Bone said. “I don’t put a ton amount of time into who starts.”

Both were starters in the past, but lost that title after suffering injuries. Aden missed three games in December because of a concussion. Despite his scoring output, Bone said he would like to see Aden improve his assist-to-turnover ratio. He had five turnovers and no assists during Saturday’s 77-75 win against the Golden Bears.

“Faisal needs to take care of the ball the best he can,” Bone said. “He can be a very good passer. It’s tough to do both (passing and scoring) at the same time because you’re locked in mentally to do one thing.”

Lodwick converted four 3-pointers against California. Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery told reporters afterward that Lodwick presented some challenges for his defense.

But Bone also cautioned that Arizona is a much different team than California. He compared the Wildcats’ talent and athleticism to Washington. Given that scenario, Bone said sticking with senior center Charlie Enquist in the starting lineup might make sense.

“Arizona guards differently than California,” he said. “Charlie’s long and tall and he can add some things inside at times.”

But Bone said he also likes how Lodwick’s shooting ability from the perimeter can extend a defense. He compared his development to that of Nik Koprivica as a senior in 2009-10. Similar to Lodwick, Koprivica largely was an ineffective 3-point shooter until that season when he 42.6 percent from beyond the arc. Lodwick has made 44.8 percent of his 3-pointers this season.

“There are some similarities,” Bone said. “Quite often a senior just kind of goes for it. They quit worrying about the little things. Whether he starts or not is not an issue. That’s kind of what Koprivica did his last year as well.”

Bone mentioned the word “maturity” throughout his teleconference, which he said also is an attribute of a team that can win on the road. WSU is 0-3 in conference road games this season and was just 3-6 in 2010-11. But Bone cited nonconference road wins, including Portland and Idaho, as reasons to be optimistic. The Cougars also played Gonzaga tough in Spokane before losing 89-81 on Nov. 14.

“I think this team has been pretty mature,” he said. “We’ve won a couple of games on the road this year.”

But he said his team also needs to prepare well as it follows Arizona with a 2 p.m. Saturday contest at Arizona State. The Wildcats game will be shown on FSN, while the Sun Devils will be televised on Root Sports.

“We’ve only had one practice since last weekend’s game,” Bone said. “It wasn’t a super energetic practice. We need to be better today.”

  • Bone said it is doubtful that junior guard Mike Ladd (right thumb) will play Thursday. He said Ladd will have that injury examined again today.

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