FROM PULLMAN — Ken Bone spoke with reporters today before the Cougars headed to the airport for their trip to San Francisco. We have a partial transcript of his comments below, so read on.
(What's the general feeling you get from your team about competing in this tournament?) “The general feeling I get is just off of what I saw yesterday in practice — it wasn’t our best practice of the year, but it was pretty good considering the goal all year long was let’s fight and scratch and try to play our best ball and be as healthy as we can at the end of the year and get to the NCAA tournament. And you always know that hey, if you don’t reach that, maybe get in that NIT tournament, which was a lot of fun last year. And things just didn’t end the way we wantd them to … We’re in a tournament we’ve never been in before, but there’s some good teams in it. Oregon State’s in it out of our conference, Pittsburgh from the Big East, Butler who was in the last two final fours, so I think that gives it some credibility and it gives us something to shoot for. To try to do as well as we can in this tournament. And the guys showed that yesterday in practice. It was a good practice with all things considered.”
(On not hosting) “I think a big part of that had to do with our students are not here, so to host a tournament might not have made too much sense without any students around. I was not a part of that discussion but that’s my guess.
“It’d be possible to host that next round. I really don’t know. Gotta win, I know that. Win, and then I’m not positive what they base that on.”
(On San Francisco) “Probably most similar to Oregon State where they will trap quite a bit out of different defensive looks. They like to get up and down the floor and create havoc on the defensive end.”
(On USF's offense) “It’s a lot of dribble-drive action where they’ll space it out, set on-balls (screens) and attack the rim. If you help out they’re pitching it out to their shooters.”
(On the short preparation time) “The best thing about it is it’s the same for both. It’s all relative, but I think this time of year, just like last year what we did is we’ve been at this for so many months and I think today’s our 92nd practice of the year, we’ve had 31 games so we’ve done a lot of the things, now it’s just kind of fine-tuning a couple things and not try to overdo anything or overcoach, but keep the game as simple as possible knowing we play tomorrow night and just go into it and play.”
(On the Pac-12 only getting two teams in the NCAAs) “It didn’t shock me. It’s disappointing that our conference didn’t do as well as we needed to in the preseason, but we made our own bed back in November or December. I think also UCLA and Arizona are kind of the face of the confence right now and maybe when they’re not achieving as much success as they have over the years, I think a lot of people base our conference off of what they do or what they don’t do.”
(On if he ever thought the conference champion wouldn't make it) “No, no, I would have never guessed that. It’s really a shame too, because I’m a Coug, but Washington has a very good basketball team and they can play with most anybody in the country on any given night. So hopefully one of our teams will get to New York and win the (NIT) championship and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. … The teams that reach the semifinals are pretty good. Unfortunately, we’re the only team out of last year’s (semifinal) field that’s not in the NCAA tournament. Alabama, Wichita State and Colorado are all going.”