FROM PULLMAN – It was a sparse teleconference with Ken Bone today, but we do have some news and notes to pass along. Read on for what the Cougars coach had to say in Pullman and on the Pac-12 call.
First, an injury update on WSU guard Mike Ladd. Bone says the junior guard is doubtful to play this weekend with a right thumb injury, which kept him out of Sunday’s game against Washington. It’s a reaggravation of his previous thumb injury, though Bone said the pain is now on both sides of Ladd’s thumb and the whole joint is bothering him. He didn’t practice Monday and won’t practice today, either. … I asked Bone about finally getting to play at Beasley Coliseum – the Cougs’ last game there was Dec. 18 – and he said he thinks it can be a big confidence boost. He said he has no problem with playing games in Spokane over Christmas break – “we had good crowds up there” – but that there’s no place they’d rather play than at Beasley. … The big topic of the day, as you could imagine, was rebounding. Bone said as he watched film of Sunday’s loss, he saw that the game became very physical, and that “I thought Washington was the more physical team and they were a little bigger, a little taller and some of the kids on their team were probably a little bit more athletic. So it’s surprising that they would get that many offensive rebounds. On the other hand, we knew going into the season that could be our Achilles heel, is being able to keep people off the offensive boards.” Just WSU’s luck: Stanford is second in the conference in offensive rebounding. Bone said the only way to improve is to get back in the gym and make it an emphasis. Part of instilling the aggressive attitude necessary to be a good rebounding team is turning practice drills into competitions, so that “there’s a winner and there’s a loser, whether it’s by individual or by team, when we compete for rebounding. The weight room helps, height helps, quickness helps.” Bone said he didn’t think playing zone was necessarily that big of a detriment to the Cougars’ ability to rebound, noting that while the natural tendency is to think that the zone makes it more difficult to box out, it also means that offensive players are playing on the perimeter, farther away from the hoop instead of right under it. “In fact, at the end of that game, we were playing man the last five minutes or so, and it’s not like all of a sudden we were able to out-rebound them.” As noted earlier, part of the problem is simply a lack of size. Bone said you can throw alley-oops all day to a 6-foot guard who can’t jump, but if he can’t jump high enough to dunk the ball, he’s never going to dunk the ball. At times, that same thought applies to rebounding. If you don’t have enough big, tall bodies to crash the glass against bigger teams, things like hard work just don’t mean as much. And the Cougars work hard, Bone said, “but at times we are outmanned by other teams. So we need to do a good job of recruiting some rebounders.” … I asked Bone about Reggie Moore’s progression as a more aggressive player. He said he’s put together two pretty good games the last two times out, and that Moore being more assertive can manifest itself in more ways than just more shot attempts. “Sometimes that means scoring or looking for his shot, and other times it means just drawing attention and making passes out to other guys.” … Bone said he recruited Stanford point guard Aaron Bright, a Bellevue native, and that Bright even came to one of WSU’s individual camps. But he took the Cardinal’s offer, obviously.
On his Pac-12 conference call, Bone was asked about the Pullman weather (it’s snowing, if you hadn’t heard) being a factor for opposing teams. He said if WSU has any advantage because of it, it’s simply because it’s “different” for opponents to deal with, while the Cougars are used to it. But he also said it can hurt attendance. … Bone was asked again about his team’s rebounding woes, and again spoke about the size issue. “It makes things really difficult. It’s nice to have some big guys and we have a couple big kids but we tend to get beat inside 10 feet from the basket on both ends quite often. So we’re trying to clean that up the best we can.” … Asked to assess the positives and negatives of WSU’s season, in general, Bone said he likes that the Cougars’ have kept an upbeat attitude and maintained a strong work ethic despite some recent struggles. And the negatives, of course, have been the losses, specifically losing four of five to begin conference play. … Bone was also asked about whether he thought the altitude at Utah and Colorado affected his team. He said he didn’t think it did, partially because Pullman is already at about 2,500 feet above sea level. Playing in mountain elevations was harder when coming from Seattle and Portland, Bone said.
UPDATE: Meant to pass along the video of Bone's comments. Here it is below.
That’s all for now. We’ll be back as events merit.