Washington State is fighting to position itself for a chance to make the NCAA tournament, and then this happens.
Klay Thompson, the Pac-10's leading scorer and an NBA prospect, has been suspended for Saturday's regular-season finale against UCLA -- a crucial game that will determine conference tournament seeding and how much of a shot the Cougars have of going dancing.
Shortly after scoring 22 points against USC, Thompson was pulled over and cited for the 1.95 grams of marijuana found in his vehicle. It left coach Ken Bone no choice but to suspend the star guard after previously having benched point guard Reggie Moore for a similar infraction.
This was horrible timing for Thompson. Just two weeks ago, Bone kept him out of the starting lineup for being late for the team bus and the Cougars ended up losing to Arizona State. Only afterward did Bone find out that the tardiness was over a misplaced iPod. So it's been a bad stretch for the guy that should be looked upon as the team leader.
The other factor in this that hurts Washington State is that Moore is a question mark going into the UCLA game after he left Thursday's game in the first half with a sprained right ankle and spent the rest of the contest on the sideline in a protective boot. The Cougars are expected to turn to Faisal Aden, who has shown tremendous scoring ability, but has also battled knee issues throughout the season.
The Cougars' season began with much promise as they went through nonconference play with a 10-2 record and Thompson regained his shooting form after struggling a year ago. They have beaten Gonzaga, Baylor and swept rival Washington.
But because of uneven play in the conference season, a loss on Saturday could drop the Cougars as far down as the sixth seed in the Pac-10 tournament.
And Thompson won't be able to help.
Mychal Thompson, his father who works for ESPN 710 in Los Angeles, said he received a 7 a.m. phone call from Klay and thought, "uh, oh."
"He put himself and the team in this situation knowing the consequences," said Mychal, a former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick. "It's disappointing to me.
"He seemed to realize he messed up. If this isn't a wake-up call, I don't know what is."