Greetings Cougs, and a happy X-mas hangover to you and yours. Here’s hoping that you had a wonderful holiday weekend and you are recovering from the draining events that can occur when alcohol and family get together.
So, tough go of it on X-mas day for our Cougs last night, wasn’t it? I know Butler was everyone’s Cinderalla last year, the belle of the ball if you will. But there seems very little smoke-and-mirrors and hocus pocus BS about what they do. They are a bunch of grinders, loaded with upperclassmen. When you can play physical and together like they do, and oh yeah, you can drain it from beyond the arc, as they did last night? In parts of the second half, they look like a team that could give even the mighty Dukies all they want. But the Cougs hung in for a half, even cut it to 10 late in the 2nd half, but that was it.
But life goes on, here and elsewhere. With that, we roll into our fourth candidate for adding to the blog staff, and so we introduce to you none other than Adam Lewis. Adam is a student at WSU, a journalism major and sports columnist at the Daily Evergreen. He claims to be a die-hard Coug, “since the day I could decipher the difference between Crimson and Grey and Purple and Gold”. With today’s post, Adam looks at Abe Lodwick’s impact on the WSU hoops program.
NOTE – This was written PRIOR to the Hawaii tournament that just wrapped up….
The Trials and Tribulations of Abe Lodwick
By Adam Lewis
Abe Lodwick’s career as a Washington State Cougar has been nothing short of an enigma. The six foot seven inch shooting forward who hails from Bend, Oregon continues to struggle in his fourth year at WSU despite possessing a skill set that fits Ken Bone’s offensive system perfectly.
Simply put, Lodwick can stroke the three. Anyone who has watched the bearded lefty in warm-ups during his time at Wazzu has seen a fluid set shot that graces nothing but twine with consistent regularity. His shot is pure, and thus it has been immensely frustrating to see Lodwick’s lack of production in games throughout his Washington State career. His highlights are few and far between.
No one is going to mistake Lodwick for a game-changing go-to-guy, but if he can simply calm down and knock in open looks, he could be the key component in helping the Cougs make a deep run into the postseason.
According to the respected kenpom.com, a website that uses advanced statistics to summarize and predict player and team performances, Lodwick is classified as a “Nearly Invisible” offensive player. This means that “Honest Abe” fails to record a point, rebound or assist in less than 12% of his team’s offensive possessions.
He is shooting just 22% from beyond the arc and has attempted just 6 other shots through 9 games. In addition, Lodwick has reinforced the widespread belief that he is unable to take the ball to the rim. Through 9 games, he has attempted just three free throws and made only one….
Despite horrific offensive numbers, however, Bone has chosen to start Lodwick in a majority of games this season over talented sophomore Brock Motum. Without ignorantly reading into Bone’s motivations to make certain coaching decisions, one can assume that Lodwick has earned playing time because of his leadership qualities and hustle. Bone must feel that Lodwick does enough in practice and games to warrant some playing time no matter how badly he struggles on the offensive end of the court. Because the facts are that the veteran, who has drawn criticism from members of the ZZU CRU recently, brings a great amount of intensity and hustle night in and night out.
Even when he can’t sniff making a bucket, Lodwick will dive with reckless abandon for loose balls, sacrifice his body to take a charge in key situations and play arguably the most aggressive man-to-man post defense in the Pac-10. His lack of athleticism hurts his rebounding numbers, but you will rarely see his man get around him for an offensive rebound. In short, he does the little things that are necessary for good teams to win close games against quality Pac-10 opponents. He doesn’t always look pretty on the court and many of his contributions will go unnoticed when his offensive game struggles, but an active Lodwick getting between 12 and 20 minutes of playing time a game will be necessary if the Cougars want to win a Pac-10 title.
Last season, during the Cougars’ horrific back end of the Pac-10 slate, one game in particular stood out. On February 20th, WSU defeated USC at home 51 to 47. Klay Thompson was still in the midst of his mystifying shooting slump and no alternative scoring options were emerging. The Cougars were in danger of dropping to 5-10 in conference play.
Enter Abe Lodwick. To that point, the then scrawny left hander was known for nothing more than looking good in warm-ups and bricking three after three in games. However, on that fateful Saturday afternoon on the Palouse, Lodwick proved that he could make an offensive difference in the Pac-10. He led the Cougars with 11 points and hit two backbreaking threes to seal a Cougar victory over the Men of Troy.
With that USC game in mind, my message to Cougar Nation is to remain patient with this affable redshirt junior. The hard working, underdog mentality that he displays on and off the court (Lodwick has been named to the Pac-10 All-Academic Team) embodies exactly what it means to be a Cougar. Just look at the difference in the size of his biceps from his freshman year to now for a visual representation of his dedication to the program.
Despite his increase in muscle mass, Lodwick may continue to struggle with his shot. He may frustrate you with his inability to out jump the player he is guarding. He may drive you to pound an extra Busch Light or two…. or three while watching a game. Hell, his lack of speed on the court might make you want to personally call and beg Ken Bone to start Brock Motum.
But….. just wait my fellow Cougs. Because before this year is said and done, Abe Lodwick’s beautiful stroke will finally, mercifully, begin to fall. And that, my friends, could make the difference between a Pac-10 Championship or an unpleasant spot on the living room couch when March Madness rolls around.
That’s it for now. Enjoy your Sunday, and as always, GO COUGS!