This is part two in a five part series where we highlight the Kathi Goertzen Coug of the Year finalists. Next up: Elson S. Floyd.
Washington State was going to have to go without their two most important players following the conclusion of the 2010-2011 men's basketball season. Klay Thompson left for the NBA Draft as arguably the best player to ever come through the doors of Washington State and DeAngelo Casto made his exit to play professionally overseas.
Losing your two best players is never easy, especially when one of them is one of the best to ever put on the uniform at your school. We knew players would step up in their absence but it wasn't going to be easy to make up for that production. How do you fill the spots of two guys who, on average, combined to score over a third of your team's average point outlet?
If you answered with an 82 inch tall forward from the Land Down Under you wouldn't be completely correct but you'd be most of the way there. Brock Motum did his best to make sure Cougar fans didn't miss Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Castro, er, Casto too much.
As a player, Motum stepped up to the plate in way that, although we expected him to play much better in his junior season, far surpassed our imaginations. It turned out, underneath his previously lanky shell, lived a forward who could bang around in the low post. The best part was he could do it better than just about anyone in the conference. Motum averaged an astonishing 20.7 points per contest in conference play. He didn't just score near the glass though. Motum could shoot from anywhere on the floor even from beyond the arc which meant teams had to respect him no matter where he was. Normally, you can forget about a guy Motum's height jacking up threes but teams have to keep an eye on him from downtown.
We all know how good of player Brock Motum is but just how important is he to this team? The answer may be more than any player in recent memory. Guys like Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, Taylor Rochestie, Aron Baynes and Klay Thompson were sorely missed in the few games they had to sit out. But at least when they weren't in the game, there were others Washington State could lean on to at least temporarily fill the void. However, no such cushion exists behind Motum and with the big man using such a high percentage of WSU's possessions, he's a player the Cougs count on to be on the floor every day.
Seriously, think about Washington State basketball with an injured Brock Motum. Try not to collapse into a heap of sadness and terror just thinking about that. Who fills in for Motum? Shelton? Maybe but not for very long. Everyone else in the starting line-up has someone behind them on the bench you're relatively comfortable with. But not Motum.
I'll be the first to admit, I never thought Motum would become the dominate presence on the floor he is now. As a freshman, every time he jacked up a three I cringed for fear of how loud the clang off the rim would be. To see how far Motum has from then to now in his senior season has been incredible. Without Motum last season, there's no way the Cougs are playing FOR ALL OF THE ZEBRA PENS.
For his incredible growth as a basketball player and leader for the men's basketball team and the honor of letting us watch him grow into one of the most dominant players on the floor in the Pac-12, Motum has earned his nomination. Congratulations to Brock Motum for being a finalist for the 2012 Kathi Goertzen Coug of the Year.