First came the August 27 announcement that top freshman, Demarquise "Que" Johnson, has been ruled a partial qualifier and will not play next season. Then came Monday's news that senior point guard Reggie Moore has been dismissed from the program for an undisclosed team rules violation.
The result is a threadbare backcourt incapable of providing all-conference big man Brock Motum the support he needs to turn Washington State into a winner next season.
The top perimeter players for the Cougars next season are probably senior Mike Ladd, sophomore DaVonte Lacy and Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge. Ladd defends capably, Lacy is a decent shooter and Woolridge was once highly recruited, but that's hardly a trio that will inspire fear in opposing defenses.
The absence of Johnson deprives Washington State of a promising 6-foot-5 scoring wing who chose the Cougars over Washington, UNLV and Gonzaga last year. The loss of Moore is even worse because he was the lone guard on the roster capable of creating for himself and his teammates off the dribble.
Even though Moore was a much better player his freshman year than as a sophomore or junior, he was more vital to next year's Washington State team than any player besides Motum. The Cougars' best hope of exceeding expectations was that he'd finally improve on his stats from freshman year when he averaged 12.7 points and 4.2 assists and shot a respectable percentage from the floor.
It's unclear why Moore was dismissed at this point, but it's noteworthy that this was not his first disciplinary issue. He was one of several key players suspended two seasons ago for marijuana arrests, leading coach Ken Bone to attempt to change the culture within the program last offseason.
"We had a few issues off the court last season that were really embarrassing to me, to our athletic department and to the university," Bone said last October. "That is not who we are going to be. We made it clear that the culture was going to change."
Not having Moore leaves Bone in a precarious spot entering the season.
Fans have already grown restless because he has not been able to sustain the consistent success the Cougars experienced under Tony Bennett. If Washington State not only misses the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight season but also regresses, Bone may not be back for a fifth.
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