Woolridge makes splashy debut for Cougs

ROYCE WOOLRIDGE

PULLMAN -- If first impressions are any indication, Royce Woolridge will make an immediate impact for Ken Bone's Cougar basketball team this season. The Kansas transfer who redshirted in Pullman last season looked at ease running the offense during the team's ZZU mania kickoff scrimmage Friday before winning the dunk contest with a through-the-legs slam.

While Friday night's event was for kicks, the redshirt sophomore said he knows it is his job to replace Reggie Moore at point guard.

"I feel like there's a lot more responsibility," he said. "The whole team is coming together and we're just ready and looking forward to the season… I can score, I can pass, I can do a little bit of everything so I'll do whatever the team needs me to do basically."

Woolridge also said he places emphasis on a part of his game his predecessor was roundly criticized for— defense.

"Defense was something in high school people said I really couldn't do so I've really been working on my defense this past couple years because I wanted to be a lockdown defender," he said. "Coach has really helped me with that with learning angles and stuff so I'm trying to be the best defender I can be."

Woolridge didn't have an opportunity to showcase his defensive prowess in an eight-minute scrimmage highlighted by deep threes, dunks and a coming-out party for a new WSU big man.

Davonte Lacy paced the "white" team to a 29-23 victory by knocking down four treys. Each three appeared deeper than the one that preceded it, as Brett Kingma failed to get his hand up multiple times.

Meanwhile, James Hunter-- the sophomore JUCO transfer from Gillette College in Wyoming- paced the "red" squad with a couple of crafty moves around the basket and multiple two-handed slams.

However, the combination of Mike Ladd, D.J. Shelton, Will DiIorio Lacy and Dominic Ballard proved to potent to defeat. Ladd, in particular, made up for his runner-up finish in the dunk contest by showcasing a healed thumb that's allowed him to improve in the offseason.

"Last year I was playing with a messed up thumb basically the whole season so I couldn't really do much but this season I'm back like I never left," he said. "I'm just going to give it my all."

Ladd sounded optimistic when asked about his senior year. He said his thumb finally healed when he opted to rehab and rest rather than risk offseason surgery.

"We lost a lot of good guys but we also gained a lot of good guys," he said. "I feel like this season will be a great season. I'm one of the captains so I have to make sure we get after it."

He also dedicated the next six months to a former player he still considers his brother.

"I'm gonna say this-- we're going to do it for Reggie," he said. "Royce is a good point guard though. A lot of people haven't actually seen him play but he's a good point guard."

Notable Notes:

- Brett Kingma had a quiet night after knocking down the first open three he took. The WSU men's team didn't have a three-point contest for the first time since Midnight Mayhem began five years ago.

- Brock Motum didn't participate in the scrimmage or dunk contest Friday, though his injury didn't appear serious.

- June Daugherty's women's team showcased a few impressive jumpers during a three-minute shooting drill that tallied baskets from all over the floor. Running the three-man weave, her squad amassed 170 points in three minutes.

- Ken Bone introduced Que Johnson to the crowd during The Opening ceremonies, then pointed to the backpack he was wearing and said Johnson would be spending his season in the library.

- Junior Longrus made perhaps the play of the evening when he spun through the lane before making a quick no-look dish to Hunter.

- WSU kicks off its 2012-2013 season with an exhibition game November 6th against Saint Martins.

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