FROM PULLMAN -- As is customary on Tuesdays, WSU basketball coach Ken Bone met with the media to discuss this week's games. Topics ranged from USC, Royce Woolridge and whether the Cougars' 2-7 start has affected players' attitudes. Read on.
(On USC playing better since the coaching change) "(I) see a group of guys that are playing a lot looser, especially offensively, and a little bit different personnel wise as far as minutes played per game for certain guys. But they’re playing very confident, coming off a great win at UCLA the other day."
(On how dangerous that makes them) "I’m sure they’re playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. It looked like it last game they played at UCLA on the road at Pauley and they went in there and played loose and played well."
(On USC's size) "I think it’s always an issue. They’ve got some good bigs and they keep coming at you with good bigs, even the guys coming off the bench. Theyr’e really good inside the key defensively and their bigs can do a good job offensively."
(On J.T. Terrell) "He’s similar to Faisal Aden in that he can just score a variety of ways, and in their system has been given the green light to do that. He’s a great shooter and he can score off the bounce well. Just a really good offensive player."
(On whether last year's film helps at all) "It’s always of use. We do always look back last year, especially when it’s the same staff. Bob Cantu has been part of that staff for years and he was with coach (Kevin) O’Neill the whole time. They’re not changing up their whole philosophy midstream. Defensively they’re doing a lot of the same stuff but they have different personnel, much different."
(On not wanting to slip below .500 at 11-11) "Right now we’re below .500 already. We’re not looking at the 11-11 record as much as we are 2-7 (in Pac-12), so we have our work cut out for us to get just back to .500. I’m not sure that would be extra motivation or not at this point."
(On Royce Woolridge as a leader) "He’s becoming more and more vocal. I think that comes along with his performance on the court, how he’s playing. He’s feeling more confident, more comfortable and I think it showed this last weekend. Against two really good teams, he performed well."
(Do players still believe there's plenty to play for this year?) "Oh yeah. We’re not talking about NCAA championships but we’re definitely talking about how we can get better and better. Colorado was not in the same boat last year but there’s a team that is a good example that did not perform extremely well the first month, month and a half of last season, and ends up going to the NCAA tournament. So I don’t know if we’re that Colorado team, but I do believe we are better than our record indicates right now. I think we could easily be right around .500."
(Do players need to see victories before they can believe that?) "That’s something you think about, but again, I’ve said it so many times, I like the fact that our guys are coming back and you see some life. It’s no different now than it was a month ago or two months ago. There’s not many teams I’ve been on that were 2-7. I’m not sure I’ve ever coached a team that’s been 2-7. But I’ve coached on teams that had high expectations to maybe win a conference championship that all of a sudden were 5-5 or 4-6 or whatever, and there were a few teams there that you could just see you were losing them, that they were not coming to practice with the same enthusiasm, they were not playing with the same effort, they were not cohesive with each other and that’s just simply not the case (this year). Yet I don’t think our guys are content with mediocrity and, ‘oh well, we’re 2-7, not a big deal, we’re still playing college basketball.’ They want to win. After a game, it hurts. But give them credit for their character and the fact that they’re a close group and they come back every day and work hard with the right attitude."
(Is there something you thought this team would be better at?) "Well in August I thought we would be good at finishing games and in August I really believed we get down to the last four or five minutes of games, we’re going to be just fine. Because we were at the end of last year, and we were in Australia. But it hasn’t turned out that way and it makes a difference when you lose certain parts of your team. I think Oregon’s feeling it right now. They were pretty darn good for seven games. But you lose a key guy and sometimes it makes a difference. That’s not to say that Mike (Ladd) and Royce and other guys haven’t done a good job. They’ve done a great job. They’ve worked hard and I think they’ve improved. Royce has really improved. I think Mike actually surprised us right from the get-go having the basketball IQ that he has and being good, solid. But those last four or five minutes, there’s been times where we’ve paid the price by not having the experience and the ball in that person’s hands."