SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Washington State basketball team that opens practice tonight will be radically different from the team that finished 19-18 last season.
Gone to graduation are Marcus Capers, Faisal Aden and Abe Lodwick. Patrick Simon and Mike Harthun transferred.
Reggie Moore, a senior who would have been the starting point guard, was kicked off the team recently for an unspecified violation of team rules.
That left coach Ken Bone with an urgent priority.
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"Making sure everybody understands that we can be successful," Bone said this week, "that we have some talented players on the floor."
The most talented may be senior forward Brock Motum, the top scorer in the Pac-12 last season at 18 points per game. Also back are starting guard Davonte Lacy, plus Mike Ladd, Royce Woolridge, D.J. Shelton, and Dexter Kernich-Drew.
Bone has some reasons for optimism.
He likes the way the Cougars bonded during a five-game tour of Australia in August. He doesn't think the loss of Moore will hurt the offense, and may improve the defense.
Even the loss of top recruit Demarquise Johnson, who was ruled academically ineligible to play this season, has a silver lining because Bone said Johnson is enrolled at WSU and could play next year.
Moore, who led the Pac-12 last season with 5.2 assists per game, will be replaced by Lacy and Woolridge, neither of whom is a true point guard. Both players are stronger defenders than Moore, and both can score, he said.
Washington State also added freshmen Brett Boese and Richard Longrus this season. They also picked up four transfers in centers Jordan Railey and James Hunter, former Oregon guard Brett Kingma and walk-on Keaton Hayenga.
Bone said the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts.
"I've been in this situation before, where we were looked at as an underdog," Bone said. "Sometimes those are situations where you pull together as a team."
"If we play together as a group, we can be good," he said.
One key will be getting more leadership out of Motum, a 6-foot-10 forward who tends to let his game do the talking.
The all-Pac-12 first team selection ranked sixth in the league in field goal percentage (.554) and seventh in rebounds per game (6.4) last season.
"He's well-respected by his peers and teammates," Bone said. "He could provide some real good leadership for us."
Ladd, who was slowed much of last season with a thumb injury, is healed, Bone said.
"I think he'll be more productive this year," he said.
Last season, Washington State advanced to the championship round of the College Basketball Invitational before falling in the series 2-1 to Pittsburgh. They also tied for eighth in the Pac-12 with Oregon State with a 7-11 league mark.
Their 19-18 record marked the team's sixth-straight winning season, the longest such streak since 1991-96.