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Thames, Harthun, and Brown are gone: What does that mean for WSU basketball?
Written by EC Rules   
Sunday, 28 March 2010 21:05

The first three dominoes have fallen and none are that surprising. Anthony Brown, Michael Harthun, and Xavier Thames are all packing up and heading out of Pullman in search of more minutes. It should be interesting to see where they end up. You have to figure that Thames is headed to another BCS conference (or Mountain West) school, Harthun should be going non-BCS Division-I, and Brown would be wise to move down a level or two. We wish them all well. Kudos to Cougfan for breaking the story on all three here External link.


Ok, down to business….let's focus on what this means for the WSU roster next year.



I know that the message boards are melting down. Don't allow yourself to get sucked in. None of these losses are crippling for next season and all three were probably predictable given their specific situations. Let me be clear, I don't like it any more than you or the next guy but let's not lose touch with reality here. The very best of the three players was good for 17 minutes a game and was blocked by a player that was one of five guys to make the All Pac-10 Freshmen team.

The argument for anger over this seems to be one of two things: 1) the defections are a sign of massive discord in the locker room and we are doomed OR 2) Reggie Moore refuses to play defense and he's a harbinger of WSU becoming the 2011 version of Paul Westhead's Loyola Marymount teams.


I understand the concern but to both of those arguments I say you should beware the ghost of Tony Bennett. It's hard for fans to move on as well but remember that each coach places a premium on different things as the cornerstones of their program. We've known from day one that offense was a point of emphasis for Bone and that he is focusing on recruiting Seattle and Reggie Moore is key to that effort. This sort of player movement is part of the process and what we are seeing and hearing is totally consistent with Ken Bone's philosophies so we should stop penalizing him for not adhering to Tony Bennett's. He has the right to succeed or fail with his system and players and that's what WSU hired him for last year. I'm just as anxious as the next guy that it's not going to work but bailing on the guy now is like trying to get off a rollercoaster when you are right in the middle of climbing up the hill right before that big drop happens and the fun starts.


There are actually several benefits to these three players moving off the roster.


1) Roster flexibility. The departure of Harthun creates some breathing room with the 2011-2012 class. Once we add Aden we would have had six players (seven if you include Enquist) graduating in one year. Harthun brings that class back down to five which is more manageable and it's very possible that it could be four after next season if Klay decides to go pro.


2) Room for one more. Now that three scholarships have opened up you are likely going to see an additional recruit brought into this year's class. We're badly in need of another big man and now the staff has the ability to bring that player into the fold. Would anyone not trade Anthony Brown, Michael Harthun or even Xavier Thames for a guy that can immediately help at the four or five?


3) A JC is an option now. If Harthun had stayed it would have been hard to justify bringing in another JC player to help in the post. That would have put that 2011-2012 class at an unmanageable seven graduating players in one season. Now with that spot open you can conceivably go for the best possible JC big man out there still available and you still are back at square one with six players and possibly five if Klay calls it good next season.


4) Round peg in a round hole. The Ken Bone roster is taking shape and that's when we'll start to find out about this staff. Bone has never had an offense as poor as last season's. It stands to reason that we are going to see a significant improvement next season with players that are closer to suiting his style of play and another season in the system for current guys.


Overall, we lost the 6th, 10th, and 12th players off of our roster if you look at their minutes. In exchange we are bringing in a Top 10 JC guard,  the #43 small forward nationally, and the potential for another big man to help down low. I really hate losing Thames because I think he's going to be really good. Nevertheless, I just can't convince myself that these losses are some sort of harbinger of doom for the program or that Bone made the wrong decision if he had to choose between Reggie and Xavier for minutes. Let's not forget how incredible Reggie Moore played (AS A FRESHMEN!) up to the last ten games of the season. There is every reason to believe that as he matures he'll be even better on both ends of the court for the entire season. We should be excited about seeing what he does next and not punishing him for Xavier Thames leaving the program.

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Comments (6)
Thames does hurt more than you think
1 Monday, 29 March 2010 07:01
Elite programs have solid back-ups and Thames provided that. Unfortunately, Pullman does not foster that yet so this pushed Thames out and it will ultimately hurt WSU next year. I think it hurt them this year but based on Bone not playing Thames enough. Moore got so worn down, like Casto, that his numbers dropped significantly as the year wore on. Personally, I liked Thames' game and he will be missed. But like the article said, it is easier to replace guards than big men which is what WSU needs more. Question....any concern on Moore with his recent Tweet about his "homies" leaving? I'm sure it is much ado about nothing but merits pointing out at least.
Funny that you should say that...
2 Monday, 29 March 2010 08:30
EC Rules
Your point around depth is spot on. I was contemplating that as I was writing the article. What is it going to take to have players comfortable with 17-20 minutes a game for the first couple of years in Pullman? I'll miss Thames too. I think he's going to be closer to Josh Akognon at another school than Chris Matthews. I'm not worried about Moore at all. He was roommates with Anthony Brown and actually became pretty good friends with Thames. He's not going anywhere with the situation that he's in from a minutes and coaching staff perspective.
We need a big...
3 Monday, 29 March 2010 17:52
I'm bummed about X transferring. He's a likeable kid who might have made a big jump in year two. But maybe Faisal Aden can play some backup PG and we know from last year that Capers is also capable in that spot. But yeah, we definitely need a big in the worst way. Another low post presence alongside Casto could make us really dangerous, as teams wouldn't be able to blanket Thompson and Moore all game long. I believe we'll actually have two schollies available, assuming Harthun and Brown are also released, as we were one over the limit going into next year already.
Big man a must
4 Wednesday, 31 March 2010 10:21
Completely agree. Casto also got worn down in the middle of the year and he needs to get back to focusing on what he does best...matching up with other power forwards and not defending every team's biggest player. That will free him up more and keep his stamina for the year. This teams needs a Cowgill/Forrest player in the worst way. A big that can play defense on the opposing teams biggest dude. Offense is a bonus...just play good defense, set screens and get rebounds. Let Klay, Moore and Casto carry the offense.
Coug Coach
5 Sunday, 08 August 2010 20:40
Don't be surprised if the Cougs become the Ducks of the Palouse in the near future. If the basketball and football teams don't make quick turn arounds and start winning expect WSU AD (former Oregon AD) Bill Moos to bring in former Oregon coaches Mike Bellotti (football) and Ernie Kent (Basketball) to make WSU a winner again. These are two very successful coaches who know how to win in the northwest and in the Pac-10. They highly regarded coaches who know how to recruit and build winning programs. They're both available, especially Kent. And don't forget, Moos hired these guys at Oregon. He knows better than anyone what they bring to the table.
6 Thursday, 02 June 2011 14:33
The solution is to have Reggie Moore light something up with the rest of the fellas in the lockeroom pre-game so they dont realize how much of a sorry basketball team they are. AIM TO GET HIGHER COUGS THAT'S YOUR GUYS' THING RIGHT???

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