This week in Cougar Hoops

BROCK MOTUM

FOR THE FIRST time in nearly seven months, we can relive and look ahead to what's happening with Washington State hoops this week. So here we go… For starters, does the favorite for the Pac-12 Player of the Year in basketball wear crimson?

Week in review: A very abbreviated opening week, as the Cougars kicked off their 2012-13 season with an 88-69 win over Eastern Washington in Pullman before a Dad's Weekend crowd of 6,705.

Forward Brock Motum turned in another one of his solid, no-nonsense performances with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while hitting 9 of 13 shots against the Eagles. You won't get an argument here if someone says Motum is the favorite for Pac-12 player of the year.

There were good moments from some of the returning Cougs, such as DaVonté Lacy (15 points), D.J. Shelton (12 boards), and Mike Ladd (15 points). Royce Woolridge, the team's most exciting newcomer, was so-so in 29 minutes of play.

What's it mean? Not much, probably. Not many WSU opponents are going to jack up 39 3-pointers as Eastern Washington did. The Eagles won't be the worst team the Cougars face this season, but they're clearly in the bottom third.

It was an easy way to put a smile on the faces of students and dads, and that's about it. Much tougher days will be ahead.

The week ahead: Two games on tap. Wednesday, it's home against Utah Valley (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network), then WSU hits the road for the first time this season, playing Friday at Pepperdine (7 p.m., no television.)

Utah Valley (1-1) plays its third consecutive road game of the season. The Wolverines opened the season with a 67-54 loss to IUPUI, then beat North Carolina A&T 64-55 on Monday. Utah Valley, of the Great West Conference, lives the life of a school needing a paycheck, as the Wolverines play nine of their first 12 games on the road.

Utah Valley was 20-13 a year ago, and played in the CIT Tournament. But there weren't many big boys on the schedule. Houston, Arkansas and Montana were about as good as it gets. During the heart of its schedule, Utah Valley won 13 consecutive games. Lost from that team is the team's leading scoring (Isiah Williams) and rebounder (Geddes Robinson).

Utah Valley's top two players appear to be Holton Hunsaker, a three-year starter guard who averaged 10.5 points a game last season, and 6-9 forward Ben Aird, who already has 22 rebounds in two games this season.

Pepperdine (0-1) is more of a known quantity to Cougar fans. You can get a sneak peak at the Waves on Tuesday night when they play California on the Pac-12 Network at 6:30 p.m. Pepperdine's lone game this season resulted in a 81-75 loss to Cal State-Northridge.

Not much is expected from Pepperdine this season, as the Waves were picked to finish last in the West Coast Conference's preseason poll. The Waves are coming off a 10-19 record from the 2011-12 season, which includes a 67-56 loss to Washington State on Dec. 22 in Seattle. Someone else from WSU will have to lead this time, as the Cougars statistical leaders against Pepperdine were Faisal Aden (points), Charlie Enquist (rebounds) and Reggie Moore (assists).

Pepperdine's returning starters are guards, sophomore Jordan Baker, who averaged nine points a game last season, and senior Caleb Willis, the team's assist leader of a year ago. Also back is the Waves' most productive 3-point shooting threat, Nikolas Skouen. One player of note on Waves' roster is senior forward Brendan Lane, who graduated from UCLA but with a year of eligibility remaining, was able to transfer to Pepperdine.

Did you know? For what it's worth, in the latest Pomeroy College Basketball Rankings, Utah Valley is No. 281 and Pepperdine No. 298 (out of 345 schools). Washington State is No. 98.

Read Nick Daschel's occasional Pac-10 ramblings at twitter.com/nickdaschel

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