Vince Grippi has a nice peek behind the curtain regarding the losses of Fabian Boeke and Nick Witherill. Basically, it sounds like Boeke could really play but his body wouldn't let him, and Witherill just really couldn't play at all -- at least, not at a Pac-10 level.
How much would Boeke have helped last year's team?
The Cougars missed (Boeke's) presence last year. If he could have been healthy and able to match up inside, he would have helped the WSU attack considerably. Believe me, there was no better 3-point shooter on the Cougar roster last year. Boeke would stand at the 3-point line and rain down shots (I counted 22 consecutive from different spots one practice before being distracted, so that streak could have been longer) while the Cougars ran through half-court drills. But it was not to be.
How many times last year did we lament our lack of just one more legitimate 3-point threat? I don't even want to think about that anymore.
And a little more on Witherill:
Privately, Tony Bennett admitted Witherill didn’t fit. Though a great kid who worked hard, Bennett felt Witherill wasn’t quick or big enough to guard Pac-10 guards. So Bennett felt Witherill would be better off transferring somewhere he could get minutes. ... The conversation was coming, with Bennett saying he would do everything he possibly could to find a school that would be a better fit for Witherill’s talents. And a transfer would free up a scholarship Bennett knew he needed.
Last night, I'm afraid I might have made Tony Bennett sound like a bad guy with Witherill. I don't think that's true, and I believe what Grippi says. I just think the situation could have been handled much better.
If Witherill heads to Division II Grand Canyon University to play for former Arizona coach Russ Pennell -- who also was Witherill's AAU coach who convinced Bennett that Witherill was a good fit at a time that the program was still struggling -- he'll only have three years to play, where he would have had four with a redshirt. I just have a hard time believing that Bennett didn't realize all these things about Witherill before he burned his redshirt. It's not like he ever made it into a Pac-10 game.
Like I said, I don't think there was anything malicious going on there, but the way it ended up was unfortunate nonetheless. Perhaps the biggest mistake was that WSU ever showed interest in a borderline high-major prospect like Witherill in the first place.