Just got through with Ken Bone's weekly teleconference and have some news to share. Read on.
• Most of my questions revolved around how well Washington State has played recently, despite the absence of three of the Cougars key contributors, Abe Lodwick, Mike Ladd and Faisal Aden. WSU has played so well on both ends, Bone said, because people stepped up – Dexter Kernich-Drew was someone he mentioned later as being one of those guys – and everyone realized, after the debacle in California, they needed to play as a team to compete. As Bone said, the three losses in the Thanksgiving tournament "woke them up." With that said, I wondered if he was worried that, when the players returned, if they would disrupt the chemistry his team seems to have built? Bone said yes to a degree. "They're going to have to find a way to fit in," Bone said, meaning they will have to play as hard, play with the same team ethos the Cougars have been showing if they want to play extended minutes. He said he's sorry they got hurt, but the group now has bought in to what he wants to do and for anyone to get playing time, they're going to have to fit within those team-first parameters. Later, after he answered a question I had about the Pac-12's problems, Bone said that having to integrate three talented players back into a rotation is a good problem to have. He's happy with the way his team has handled their absence – other Pac-12 schools have not handled adversity as well – but he welcomes the guys back. ... So when will the three be back? That's the news we have to share. Bone said Aden could be back at practice tonight, tomorrow at the latest. And Lodwick and Ladd have been cleared to at least shoot around tomorrow. It's possible, he said, all three could play Sunday against Western Oregon. ... Bone also talked about how Marcus Capers has embraced the role of a lock-down defender, how Kernich-Drew has learned from Capers and is his "back-up Marcus" as a wing defender right now, and he answered a few questions about DaVonté Lacy, with the upshot of the answers being Lacy is going to be a great scorer but, like most freshman, he's still learning what it takes to defend at this level.
• That's it for now. We'll be back in the morning. Until then ...