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With Faisal Aden out, who will step up?

Jan 27, 2012, 1:33 PM | Updated: 3:19 pm

By Bert Klasey

Well, what now?

When Faisal Aden went down with a MCL sprain in the first half of the brutal loss at Arizona on Thursday, I felt his pain. No, not in my knee, in my gut. This is a tough one, folks.

It was no coincidence that the Cougs beat league-leading Stanford and Cal last week when Aden got hot. He finally opened up his game, took charge on the floor, started to create shots, and got to the foul line. When that happened, it opened up the floor for everyone and the Cougs were playing some very good ball.

Now that Aden’s gone, someone else HAS to step up. If no one does then it’s quite possible we’ll be right back to the sub-par basketball we’ve seen for the majority of the season (and for three quarters of the game last night). There has been no official word on the outlook for Aden — whether it’s just a minor sprain and he’ll be back next week or something more severe that will limit him for a while. Either way, it’s safe to say that he won’t be at 100 percent at any time soon and the Cougs are entering four crucial games in their schedule against ASU, USC, UCLA and OSU. Right now, three of these four teams are extremely beatable. Lose to ASU, USC and OSU and this season is completely, officially, dust.

I’m not assuming the team really is up for rolling over and dying, so who’s going to step up? Ken Bone started Moore, Lacy, and Capers last night. Out of those guys, you can almost immediately rule out Capers as an offensive threat.

Moore has really taken to his role as a pass-first point guard, but we know that he can fill it up — perhaps he’ll be pushed to start taking the ball to the hoop a bit more? Unfortunately, Moore has seemed to become a little wild when he decides to try and take over a game, throwing up some crazy shots and passes rather than taking care of the ball. He plays far better when he’s controlling the offense, rather than being the offense.

Lacy has been outstanding thus far, and asking the freshman to step up his game any further is a bit of a ridiculous request seeing that he’s all ready playing out of his mind.

So, what about the bench? Mike Ladd, who is out with an injury but expects to return to the lineup soon, is a guy who we’ve been told can score in bunches. Unfortunately, we just haven’t seen it. When he is on the floor, he rarely looks like a guy who demands the ball and creating opportunities. Bone needs to get in to his head. He’s needed.

What about Dexter Kernich-Drew? The athletic Australian is another who we’ve heard great things about on the practice floor, but haven’t seen much of it on the game floor. Supposedly the kid’s a shooter and a slasher but when he’s on the floor, he’s definitely been a role player.

Finally, you’ve got Will DiIorio, the sophomore from Bainbridge who isn’t afraid to dunk, swat and get in the middle of things. Unfortunately, he’s not the type of guy who’s going to step up and give you 15 points per night.

So where’s it going to come from? I’m not ruling out some creative coaching by Bone and staff. It’s not quite as dire as the situation last season against UCLA when the Cougs were without both Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore and due to Bone’s strategy, nearly knocked off the Bruins, but it’s going to require SOME sort of adjustment.

Bone hasn’t seemed to be making many adjustments this season, and appears to simply be waiting for the team to catch up to his gameplan. It started to look like it was happening last week. Not so much this week. And now with Aden gone, it looks the time for waiting is over.

Go Cougs!


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With Faisal Aden out, who will step up?