A quick post tonight from the Bay Area. We have a couple notes for our Four Corners' page, along with our usual Thursday short on the upcoming weekend. Read on ...
• Here are the notes ...
Ken Bone was kicking himself a little.
"I think it was probably my mistake," Washington State's coach said earlier this week, "of talking to guys and pleading with guys to do the right thing and thinking you're getting through to them. At the end of the day, sometimes that just won't work."
Last Thursday's 81-70 home loss to Arizona State convinced Bone, in his first year in Pullman, his conciliatory method wasn't working. So he changed.
Friday's practice was more intense. More was expected. And that carried over to Saturday's game with Arizona.
"We're trying to make sure these guys are being kept accountable," Bone said. "The best way to do that is to put them on the bench."
A mental mistake led to a quick hook, no matter the name on the back of the jersey.
"When they are not, in our minds as a staff, locked in mentally," Bone said, "we were not going to prolong it anymore."
The process seemed to work. Not only did the Cougars play their best defensive game of the Pac-10 season, the bench players called on to fill in for a longer time contributed 19 points and seven rebounds. WSU won going away, 78-60.
"It was mainly just a wake up call," Bone said.
And it will continue.
"They responded well," Bone said. "Most of the kids had a pretty good game. ... They know what's at stake."
As the regular season winds down – WSU has this weekend's Bay Area trip, hosts the LA schools and Washington, then heads to Oregon before the Pac-10 tourney – Bone was asked what it would take for the Cougars to gain a postseason bid of some kind.
Last year, WSU's 17 wins were enough to earn an NIT bid.
"This year I would say it would be closer to 19," Bone said. "Last year the conference was stronger, and however many (six) teams got into the NCAA Tournament, that means a team like Washington State was playing against more NCAA Tournament-caliber teams so I'm sure their (Ratings Percentage Index) was higher."
Getting to the postseason would be a boon to WSU, according to Bone.
"Just to be able to build on the success Washington State basketball has had the last couple years, it would be nice to continue that," Bone said. "It's always good for any team to get into postseason play because it's just more practices and games that mean something, especially when you have a young team with most everybody coming back."
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS
RECORD: 5-6 Pac-10, 15-8 overall
COMING UP: Today at Stanford, 7 p.m.; Saturday at Cal, 1 p.m., FSN.
OUTLOOK: The Cardinal are 4-7 in Pac-10 play (and 10-13 overall), with all seven losses on the road and all four wins in Maples Pavilion. Landry Fields is their main offensive threat (a Pac-10 leading 23 points per game) but Jeremy Green adds 17.3, many of the strength of a 40.7 shooting percentage beyond the arc. The two helped Stanford rally from a 20-point halftime deficit in the first meeting, won by WSU, 77-73. The senior-laded Cal Bears (15-8) lead the conference with a 7-4 record, 4-1 in Berkeley. Jerome Randle lit up the Cougars with 39 points in the Bears' 93-88 win in Pullman.
• That's all for tonight. We'll be back in the morning with links. Until then ...