FROM PULLMAN -- Ken Bone met with reporters this afternoon to preview the beginning of WSU basketball practice, which starts Friday. Here's a transcript of his comments.
(What's your team's biggest priority right now?) "I think the biggest prioroity is making sure the guys understand we can be successful and that we have some talented players on the floor. We lost a lot of good players from last year, kids that played a lot of minutes. Marcus Capers, Faisal Aden, Abe Lodwick, Charlie Enquist, Patrick Simon, Reggie Moore. But we still have a first-team all-league guy, leading scorer in the league coming back. DaVonte Lacy, Mike Ladd. There’s a number of guys in our program that if we play together as a group, we can be good. I’m excited about the possibilities. Fortunately for me, I’ve been in this situation before over the years where you’re kind of looked at as an underdog and you don’t have this and you don’t have that, but a lot of times those are the teams that pull together as a team and maximize their talent."
(On how the team dynamic has changed) "It is different this year than last year but it’s different every year. You take even one or two guys out of the picture and add two or three other kids and every year it’s just a different dynamic for the team."
(Were you disappointed to see Simon leave?) "I was, but really when he asked about, 'Hey, next year, where am I going to fit in and what’s it look like for playing time?' I couldn’t look him in the eye and say, 'hey you’re going to play a lot or you’re going to start.' So he’s found a situation that’s a better fit for him. He’s a great kid, he was no maintenance whatsoever here, he did everything he was asked so I’m happy for him that he’s going to get an opportunity to excel hopefully at Seattle Pacific."
(What can Brock Motum add to his game this year?) "What he can do to really help us out is give us an element of leadership. He’s not really a rah-rah guy but he’s a senior, he’s a very good player, he’s well respected by his peers, his teammates and I think he could provide some really good leadership for us. He’s going to have to take another step on the defensive end and with his rebounding to help us out. He will score points but if he could give us a little more lift on the defensive end and with some rebounding that’d be beneficial."
(Is everyone healthy and ready to go?) "Everybody’s ready as of an hour ago. The last conversation I had with our trainer, everybody’s good to go but that stuff changes quickly sometimes. Hopefully everybody will be there Friday ready to go."
(Will Mike Ladd be a different player this year with his thumb healed?) "I think he will be. I think he’ll be able to again going back to being a senior and being a leader, it’s his second year of being a team captain, but sometimes it’s hard to be a captain when you’re injured and not really playing and telling other guys to work hard or do this or that. I think he’ll be more productive this year than last year on and off the court. Even when he played he was not at 100 percent. He hurt that thumb and I think totally missed 10 or 11 games, not just because of the thumb but because of a concussion. Even when he did come back after the thumb injury, late in the year, it was still taped up quite a bit and bothering him so hopefully he won’t have any of those issues this season."
(Who are your other captains?) "Davonte Lacy is the third. Two of them were appointed by the coaches, Brock Motum and Mike Ladd, being seniors and I think just what they represent, then I asked the players to vote for a third and DaVonte won that."
(On D.J. Shelton) "It’s been hard to tell so far but he’s definitely gotten bigger and stronger and I think that will equate into playing more physical basketball, which we need, especially within 10-12 feet of the basket. I also think he’s continuing to get better as a passer. He gets the ball at the high post, he sees things that other guys don’t see and he makes good passes, so we’re hoping D.J. has a nice season and I think he’s ready to go."
(On Royce Woolridge) "If we had a game tonight Royce would be starting at one of the guard spots, so it’s provided an opportunity for him to step into a role where he’s definitely going to be on the floor. I’m just glad he was here last season during that redshirt season to gain some experience within our program. He’s quick, he can really guard and I think that’ll probably be the biggest difference on a positive side for him. He’s a very aggressive defender and has great quickness."
(On Dexter Kernich-Drew playing more in Australia) "I expect him to see more of the floor than last year. Part of that had to do with the fact that we were in Australia and I just wanted to play him a little bit more. Also, he just needs minutes. What usually comes along with getting minutes in a game is confidence and we’re hoping that Dexter has confidence going into this season because we need him to play more minutes than last year."
(Will he be one of your main 3-point shooters?) "I do. He’s one of our better shooters, so therefore we will try to get him shots beyond that arc."
(On DaVonte Lacy as a ball-handler) "I think he’s improved. He had a chance to go with an Athletes in Action group to East Asia early in the summer and obviously went with our team to Australia so he played in some good competitive situations this summer where he’s in position to handle the ball. Again, I think that’s where you get better, just like I was commenting on Dexter. The way to get better is actually getting game time and playing a role you’re going to play during the season. I’m sure he’ll be better than he was last year."
(What did you gain from the Australia trip?) "I think more than anything else, giving guys a chance to get back out there, play healthy and play together. I’ll go back to the last couple guys we talked about, Mike Ladd who was banged up a lot last season, Royce Woolridge who had never put on a uniform here at Washington State, Dexter getting a lot of playing time. There’s a number of kids that received more experience and we hope that carries over."
(Is DaVonte's thumb healed?) "There’s been no problem with that. He’s 100 percent healthy and playing good basketball."
(Did that affect his shooting last year?) "It could have. It could have affected it. It’s hard to gauge that. His percentage I don’t think dropped drastically but the reason it’s hard to gauge it is because late in the season a lot of these kids lose their legs. There was a time during the season, DaVonte I felt was pretty fatigued, sometimes that has more to do with it than an injury, just not getting the lift. Shooting is a habit and if you’re not jumping the same every time it changes your shot."
(On Woolridge as a point guard) "I think he qualifies for that. I think when most people think of a point guard they instantly think about offense, yet there’s two ends of the court. Defensively he’s going to give us a lift at the point position. He will be a very good defender on the point this year. The other guy is Dominic Ballard, who was a walk-on, he was here last season, did not play but he’s a big, strong kid. He’s not really a true point guard but we are going to try to get away without any true point guards, like a number of other teams do. Again, there’s two ends of the court and I think both those guys will provide great defense and solid offense."
(On Woolridge's offensive game) "He’s probably more of a shooter. Comparing him and Reggie, Reggie did a really good job of breaking down the defense, especially late last season, and also getting to the rim. Royce is capable of doing that but he’s been a little bit more of a spot-up shooter, yet he is capable of attacking the rim and finishing. So he’s been working on that quite a bit this summer."