Pac-12 Basketball: Washington State Cougars season review

The Washington State Cougars struggled mightily in the Pac-12 basketball conference.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a series of articles to summarize this past season for every team in the Pac-12 conference.

The series will start at the bottom of the conference with Washington State and work our way to top of the final standings with Oregon.

Beyond a final summary, I will attempt to provide some insights on each team as they approach the off-season in hopes of an improved 2016-2017 season.

2015-2016 Season

Overall Record: 9-22

Conference Record: 1-17

Final Conference Standing: 12 out of 12

Conference Awards: Josh Hawkinson (All Pac-12 Team – Honorable Mention)

Summary: The Washington State Cougars continue to struggle, as they have not posted a winning record since the 2011-2012 season (thanks to a deep run in the CBI Tournament).

The biggest win of their conference schedule was back on January 3 when they beat UCLA, who was ranked 25 at the time. This high note actually served as the last taste of victory Washington State would experience over the next two months, as they went on to lose 17 straight games to close the season.

Beyond that, the Cougars lost all five of their other match-ups against ranked opponents throughout the course of the season. The Pac-12 was definitely a much stronger conference this season compared to the 2014-2015 season, as seven teams earned 2016 NCAA Tournament bids versus the four conference bids seen in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

The Washington State Cougars were the worst team in the conference by a large margin and fans can only hope the rough season served as experience to help grow in the future. 

2016-2017 Season

Leaving: Valentine Izundu (transfer), Junior Longrus (senior), Brett Boese (senior), Que Johnson (pending – declared for NBA Draft)

New Faces: Milan Acquaah (PG, 3-star recruit), Jeff Pollard (PF, 2-star recruit)

Outlook: The Washington State Cougars look to send out an experienced squad during the 2016-2017 season as the top six scorers from last season should all return as seniors.

Led by Josh Hawkinson, the Cougars will surely improve on their conference record after only posting a single win.

Que Johnson’s decision following the NBA Draft combine should have a big impact on the Cougars 2016-2017 season results. Johnson will declare for the NBA Draft but will not hire an agent, allowing him to return to school if he does not like what he hears regarding his draft potential.

Izundu’s transfer could cause defensive troubles for the Cougars, as he was the only true rim protector on the roster. Barring any incoming transfers, Hawkinson appears to be the only player over 6’8”.

Fans should expect an improvement in conference play, but a 2017 NCAA Tournament bid is simply not a reasonable expectation.