Over the past couple weeks, the Gonzaga bandwagon has been picking up an incredible amount of steam. With a pretty difficult month of games about to begin, most Bulldog fans are now wondering if this team can sustain the success they have built in November. If history is any indication, Wednesday night's game against Washington State should be a good indicator. While the Cougars have gone through their fair share of hardships this season, the expectation is that this rivalry game will still be a major test for the Zags. Not only will their be plenty of emotion in Pullman but the Cougars still have Brock Motum, one of the top players on the west coast. Motum will need all the help he can get as the Zags are coming in at full steam.
Washington State's string of issues started in the offseason. First, it was news the Que Johnson, the prize recruit of Ken Bone's 2013 class, was a non-qualifier this season, then it was returning point guard Reggie Moore's dismissal from the team. More bad news came when sophomore guard DaVonte Lacy hurt his knee against Kansas. Big picture, WSU has been put in a tough position and their record thus far indicates that. They enter the game with a 5-3 record with wins over Eastern Washington, Utah Valley, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Idaho, and Portland. They've dropped games to Kansas, Texas A&M, and Pepperdine.
Washington State's depth may get a boost on Wednesday as there are rumors that DaVonte Lacy could return. Here is an excerpt from the Spokesman about Lacy:
Bone was more optimistic about DaVonte Lacy's chances of playing on Wednesday than I expected. He said Lacy will warm up this afternoon and if all goes well, he'll practice with the team for the first time since injuring his left knee against Kansas on Nov. 19. If he's able to go through practice without any setbacks, Bone said "my guess is he'll be playing Wednesday, but again it's one step at a time and the next step is see how he does warming up today."
Even with Lacy returning, the main factor in this matchup will be Brock Motum. The Aussie senior forward is averaging 19 points and 7 rebounds per game this season. Against Portland, Motum scored 29 points and was simply sensational. He has been in the zone this season and it is up to the plethora of Bulldog bigs to try and slow him down. If Motum can hit shots from the perimeter, WSU can be very dangerous. He hit 2-3 from deep against the Pilots and Cougar fans have been patiently waiting for him to catch fire consistently from deep.
When looking at this game, depth seems to be the main factor and while Washington State has some nice pieces, they simply can't match what Gonzaga will trot onto the court in Pullman. When you look at the four-headed monster that is Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, Sam Dower, and Przemek Karnowski, there is no reason to think those guys should not be able to absolutely dominate the Cougars. Brock Motum is really the only solid low post option for Ken Bone. Their next best option is D.J. Shelton, who is averaging 7 points and 6 boards per game. WSU should be able to keep the Bulldog guards in check, particularly if Lacy is healthy, but I would really look for three of the four Gonzaga bigs to be in high double figures and blows this contest wide open.