FROM PULLMAN — As the criticism of coach Ken Bone and his Washington State basketball team increases, so too does the speculation about whether Bone might not be around next season.
And while the coach says he doesn't read the blogs and message boards full of fans expressing their frustration with growing frequency, that doesn't mean he doesn't know it's there. He does.
Bone says he isn't used to it, either, noting that he's typically been associated with successful teams. Bone's first team at Portland State in 2005-06 finished with a 12-16 record, and that currently stands as the only losing team Bone has fielded as a head coach.
“When you lose, there’s criticism. It doesn’t matter whether you have injuries, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been close in games and competed well. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve kicked off your point guard. It doesn’t make any difference.
“At the end of the day, you’re expected to win. And in league we are 2-9, so therefore, like in any sport, you’re going to be criticized. So I’m sure I’m being criticized. But every once in a while I might hear about something, or someone might say 'hey, don’t read the blogs, don’t do this, they’re tearing you apart.' That’s the way it goes. That’s par for the course at this level and for me personally, you just roll with it. For me, I just keep doing the best I can. I’m not sure what else to do except try to keep the troops rallied and working hard and as a staff we stay together, we work hard.”
When asked if he worries about his job status, Bone replied: “No. I'll be just fine.”
He also said he hasn't addressed the matter with his players.
“Like I said, I don’t have a whole lot of experience in this situation,” Bone said. “So maybe if I’ve been in this situation for a number of years … maybe there’s other things I should be doing. What I do is the same thing I’ve done every year, win or lose, and that’s try to get ready for that next practice, try to get ready for that next game, keep the guys motivated.
“They’re going to hear things. I can’t control what people say. I can’t control what people think. So just do the best we can and deal with the adversity, just like we tell the guys on the court. There’s a bad play, there’s a bad call, whatever might happen, you’ve got to turn the page and keep going. Well, I think it’s the same in life. Keep going.”
The goal now, Bone said, is to improve as much as possible before the Pac-12 tournament, where he hopes the Cougars can reverse their fortunes, “try to peak at the right time and play our best ball in the Pac-12 tournament and see where that goes.”
Seeding isn't a concern at this point.
“Whatever it is, we’re going to play against a team that most likely we’ve already competed with pretty well and we’ve just got to be ready to go on that night, whenever that is, 5-6 weeks from now.”
Some additional quotes from Bone's press conference …
(On how the Pac-12 tournament might shape up) “I think it is wide open. There’s been a lot of teams that have looked really really good and then the next week they get beat by someone you wouldn’t expect them to get beat by. But there’s just a lot of parity in the conference.”
(On whether WSU's performance against OSU and Oregon on the road bodes well for this week) “I would hope so. I would hope that our guys — and I’m sure they do — they would recognize the fact that here’s a team that we were able to beat. They’re good, we respect them, I’m sure our guys respect them. But we had success against them so that’s a confidence builder.”
(On penetrating OSU's zone the first time around) “I thought we did a pretty good job. I thought we had good spacing, I liked the way we moved the ball and I thought we were opportunistic when we drove it to create shots.”
(On needing some type of team meeting to turn things around) “We haven’t talked about having any team meetings. We continue to meet with the team but it’s not like a formal 'hey, let’s meet as a team and sit down and talk about some issues for 20, 30, 40 minutes.' We haven’t done that. But we continue to meet with different guys and obviously at practice we meet for short periods of time with the team as a group and continue to hit on things we need to improve on.”
(On Royce Woolridge) “I think he’s become more and more confident in his ability to make plays. He came from a small high school down in Phoenix, had great success, went to Kansas, did not play very much at all, and then last year … Being a redshirt is a unique situation in different sports. But it takes time to get out there and really compete and now that he’s been out there on the floor and played a number of games, I think he’s become more and more comfortable with our system, what’s expected of him and when it’s expected of him. I think he’s continued to grow as a player and I think as of late he’s starting to show how good he is.”