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Tuesdays with Ken Bone

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Ken Bone has concluded his weekly conference calls — one with the local media, the other with media around the conference — and we have a summary of both of them, plus some video, posted below. Read on.


Not much in the way of actual news from Bone's local call, save for Bone reiterating that he anticipates Reggie Moore will be back in the starting lineup on Sunday against Washington. But he did leave open the possibility that other changes could be made.

“We’re going to play it out,” Bone said. “It’s possible we would go with a different lineup. We’ve won just one of our last four games and losing two in a row, we’ve kind of put it out there that we need guys to bring it hopefully every possession if possible. And so the guys that are really trying to bring it have the better chance to start.”

Moore was removed from the lineup in favor of Dexter Kernich-Drew, who played 14 minutes and scored six points. I asked Bone if he plans to use Kernich-Drew more as a regular member of the rotation. He said it's possible, but that other players (he named Mike Ladd as an example) at the same position have performed well at times, too. …

Bone spoke at some length about Washington, and specifically freshman point guard Tony Wroten. Bone said Wroten is “a pro, no doubt about it,” and praised his defensive effort, pointing out that Wroten had seven steals in the Huskies' loss to Colorado.

“He can score, phenomenal passer, good ball handler, gets his hands on a lot of balls on the defensive end,” Bone said. “Just an outstanding player and just a freshman.” Bone said he didn't make much of a run at Wroten when he was being recruited, noting that it was obvious early on that Wroten wasn't interested in WSU.

I asked Bone about WSU's two dominant wins over the Huskies in the regular season last year. He attributed those performances mainly to the play of since-departed Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto.

“Those two guys, they’d be seniors now in our program and it could be a little different situation if they were here,” Bone said. “In regards to last year, I thought those two really did a nice job every time we played Washington.”

Asked about the rivalry — which has been fairly even in recent years — and whether he sees it continuing that way in the future, Bone said: “I hope so, because I don’t foresee them dropping off a whole lot. They have good players now, they’ve had really good players the last 10 years and there’s some really good players that are going to be joining them in the near future so I’m hoping that we can continue to compete with them and make it a great game every year.” …

Bone seemed pleased with the way his players responded to last weekend's losses, saying he appreciated the attitude and effort his team brought to Monday's practice. I asked if they were aided in that regard by their comeback attempt against Colorado.

“That is important. There’s a lot of teams that get down 15-20 and all of a sudden the game ends up being a 30-35 point blowout. And that’s not a good deal when your team basically just quits trying and feels like hey, we’re done, we can’t compete. I was very proud of the fact that we battled back and we cut it to eight … We fought back and gave ourselves a chance. That’s a sign of good character, I think.” …

The coach also touched some more on the issue of nastiness, or lackthereof, among his players. He praised the recent play of forward Brock Motum — specifically his recent shooting from beyond the arc — but said he'd like to see him be more explosive around the basket and more aggressive going after rebounds.

“I think what hurts him at times and maybe even Charlie (Enquist) is they’re just such great kids that they’re not as physical as I would like them to be down there,” Bone said. “And I wish they had a little bit more of a nasty side. I think that would help them defensively.

“It’s hard to change your personality. They are who they are. And so they get on the floor and they’re still the same person. Sometimes I think there’s just not a mean bone in either one of them, and I wish there was — come game time.” …

On his Pac-12 call, Bone was asked about Pac-12 leader Colorado, and said he thinks they do pretty much everything well — he specifically praised their interior and on-ball defense, as well as their transition offense and defense. … Asked by a reporter what the Cougars need to do to beat Washington, Bone replied, “I was going to ask you that,” then repeated much of what he said locally about Wroten and that the Cougars need to find a way to contain him. He also emphasized shooting and rebounding. … Finally, Bone was asked about Motum's emergence as a go-to player, and said he thinks it's mostly about Motum finally getting his opportunity to play big minutes. Bone noted that Motum was stuck behind Casto last season, and now that he's not looking over his shoulder anymore, “he’s just kind of playing the way he’s capable of playing.” …

And here are the video highlights of Bone's local call, courtesy of the WSU athletic department.

All for now. We've got player interviews the rest of the day, but will be back if events merit.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple


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