If there's one thing we learned from watching WSU basketball the past two years, it's that one transcendent player can make up for a multitude of deficiencies on a roster.
I know a number of you have believed that there's plenty of talent on WSU's roster and were disappointed with the ultimate result of last season in particular. If you were around last year, you know I didn't share that same assessment of Klay Thompson's teammates.
I believe this is a roster that's still pretty flawed -- it's a mishmash of Tony Bennett recruits (some of whom are a really bad fit for any coach other than Bennett) and Ken Bone's midmajor-esque talent grab to fill open roster spots, most of which were unexpected openings thanks to Bennett's roster management (at least some of which wasn't really his fault).
There are few well-rounded players to be found, as Bone has often been forced to choose between one-dimensional players -- such as Marcus Capers, Faisal Aden, Abe Lodwick and Brock Motum -- in an attempt to form a multi-dimensional unit. It's been a hard task, but it was mitigated to a great degree by Thompson's transcendency.
Most of the same challenges remain for Bone in 2011-2012. And it would go a long way if there was a guy on the roster who could step in with a Thompson-like performance.
Enter Reggie Moore.
Am I suggesting Moore can replace Thompson's production? No. Klay was a special player -- perhaps the greatest individual player to ever play in Pullman and a first round NBA draft pick -- and it's ridiculous to think anyone is going to pick up all of that slack by himself.
But Moore has shown he has the ability to be a go-to player, one who elevates the level of play of the players around him. That's something Thompson did well, and it's a role that Moore could fill.
As a freshman, Moore was often electric. He possessed a killer first step that allowed him to get to the rim with impunity, where he either finished or drew a foul. His 76.4 free throw rate was 26th nationally, leading to a stellar 106.7 offensive rating. He was an impact player, leading many of us to drool at the potential career arc.
But last season was a difficult one for Moore. It started with a broken wrist that caused him to miss valuable practice time heading into the regular season, and led to him being a shell of his former self when he returned -- a shell he was never able to break out of. His stats were down across the board, save for the 3-point percentage. His free throw rate dipped to a still very good 60.7, but his 2-point percentage plummeted to 34.2. Good finishing guards are around 50 percent on 2-point shots; he was at 46.7 the year before.
The injury appeared to affect Moore virtually all year. He was less confident in his ability to handle the ball in traffic and was reluctant to draw hard contact in the lane, presumably to protect his healing wrist. He not only took fewer shots; he didn't do as good of a job setting up his teammates.
Once again fully healthy, there's no reason to believe Moore can't return to his freshman levels -- or even better. If he can, it will go a long way toward helping WSU maintain a high level of performance, even as the team makes its final transition into Bone ball.