FROM PULLMAN -- Ken Bone held his weekly press conference this afternoon, and the most frequent topic of conversation was the status of Mike Ladd's left knee.
The verdict: it's probably not healthy enough for Ladd to play this week.
The senior guard will still travel with the Cougars to Arizona, but Ladd didn't practice on Monday and Bone said "it doesn't look promising" for him to play Wednesday against Arizona State.
There is good news, though.
It was originally believed that the pain in Ladd's knee was due to a tendon rubbing against a screw (or screws) that Ladd had inserted in the knee when he was in high school. But Bone said Monday that it's been discovered that isn't the case, and that Ladd's tendon is simply sore for reasons not involving the screws.
That's "great news," Bone said.
"I think mostly right now it’s a pain tolerance situation, but I’m not a doctor and I really don’t know the answer to that, if it’s a situation where it could get much worse," Bone said. "I don’t think it is, but I don’t know.
"I don’t think it’ll get better until sometime in April or May, probably May. I think he’s going to need a little bit of time, but it is something that I think at some point, hopefully sooner than later, that he will be able to play through, play through some pain. But right now it’s too painful. It’s not like he’s a soft kid and can’t play through a little bit of pain, but I don’t know how to put a percentage on it. But it’s probably closer to 75 percent than it is 95 percent. So therefore it’s still a little too painful."
Ladd, of course, is plenty familiar with playing through pain. He played the final part of last season with a torn ligament in his right thumb. But a knee injury is obviously much trickier, because it limits everything if it doesn't allow you to run, plant, cut or jump.
Other notes ...
-- Asked about Bryce Leavitt's recent contributions, Bone said: "I think Bryce has done a great job, especially for a freshman. But that’s why he’s played. We see it every day in practice where he comes to practice, he’s a tough kid, plays hard, confident, decent ball-handler, decent passer, good skills. What you see is what you get out of him, and he’s helped us the last couple games.
"It’s great to have guys that believe in their own abilities, especially when there’s a reason why. A lot of guys believe they can do certain things but don’t back it up. Bryce backs it up. He competes hard every day."
And if you're wondering why Leavitt seems to pass up open looks ...
"His job right now does not involve points or getting shots," Bone said. "It’s more handling the ball, running the offense, playing good defense, just being a good solid player out there. If he gets a shot or gets an opportunity to drive it, which he’s done a number of times ... we want him to look for those situations. But right now his role is not for him to go in and score."
His playing time will be dictated by WSU's needs.
"It’s very situational. Next game he could play five minutes, he could play 25 minutes," Bone said. "It’s just kind of wait and see. Are guys in foul trouble? Are guys handling the ball well? Just kind of who’s doing what. But we know he’s ready to go and so far he’s done a good job of stepping in there and competing."
-- Asked Bone if there's anything the Cougars can take from their first game against Arizona State, as it pertains to defending Jahii Carson.
"It’s a great question and a tough answer because he’s a really hard guy to defend," Bone said, "and I think a number of teams have found that out that he’s a good enough shooter, you have to respect his shot, and yet if you get up in him he’s a great driver. He can score, he can deliver the ball to other guys. He’s really good on the on-ball, so he’s a hard guy to defend. ... I’m not sure we know anymore now than we did three weeks ago. He’s still really good."
Bone said "there’ll be different guys that defend him during the course of the game." Royce Woolridge said he imagines he'll get a crack at him at some point, noting that he's known Carson since he was 12 years old.
Speaking of Woolridge, I asked Bone if the sophomore's 36-point game against Oregon was a product of increased aggression as dictated by the coaching staff, or if that's the kind of game they've wanted him to play all season.
"We’ve needed it more as of late, so we’ve tried to create situations where he has opportunities to be more aggressive to make plays," Bone said.
Ladd's absence may also be responsible for Woolridge's uptick.
"I think that was partially it, that Mike was out and so Royce played more minutes than usual," Bone said. "Royce had the ball in his hands a little bit more than usual. And then the fact that Royce started the game out playing well, shooting well, scoring well, so therefore we just went ahead and rolled with it."
-- WSU leaves for Phoenix early Tuesday morning, which means with the Monday holiday, players will miss the entire week of classes.
That's OK, Bone said, because they're bringing an academic advisor on the road with them and most of their class notes and the like can be obtained via the Internet.
"Luckily, we have a good group academically," Bone said.
-- Bone said WSU's goals for the rest of the season are as follows: "Right now, we’re just trying to get a win. Our next game is our biggest game of the year and we’re really trying hard to get a win. Once we get that, maybe we’ll talk about other goals. But we need a win."