FROM PULLMAN — It's been a little busier around here today than originally anticipated, but we do finally have a summary of Ken Bone's press conference for you. Read on.
Of note: Bone said he's still waiting for the NCAA to decide whether Que Johnson will be allowed to practice this semester. Johnson hasn't practiced with the team all season — he's ineligible to play this year — but Bone had hoped that his grades during the fall semester would be good enough to convince the NCAA to let him practice. But no ruling yet.
On to the quotes …
(Are you curious to see how the team handles the new travel schedule?) “Yeah, I am. Travel so far this year has been an experience in itself but now we’re starting Pac-12 play and heading down there this afternoon. We already had to make a little bit of a change and move forward our travel time an hour and a half just because the charter plane needs to be able to gas up so I guess we’re heading from here to Spokane to get more gas to head south. All that stuff doesn’t sound like a big deal and hopefully it’s not, but it changes once you arrive, when you eat, when you practice, it affects you a little bit here and there. It’s the same for everybody. I’m sure everybody will have different situations to deal with.”
(And then you're flying back after the game?) “We’ll be back here tomorrow night or early, early Thursday morning. Kids will be in class Thursday and Friday, then turn around Friday afternoon and head back down to the bay area for the Saturday afternoon game at 1 p.m.”
(Are you doing that for academic purposes?) “Yes. This time of year it’s hard enough playing basketball and going to class and doing your studies even if every game is at home, but let alone on the road and then dealing with being here in Pullman and the travel challenges that we sometimes have.”
(If you couldn't charter, would you just stay down there?) “We would stay down there because it would take a little longer to get back. We wouldn’t be able to get back until at least Thursday afternoon and then we’d probably need to be able to turn around and take off Friday morning. What will be interesting to me is our trip back tomorrow night on a charter plane. I see it snowing now. Who knows? I know we’re scheduled to get in late tomorrow night but if all of a sudden we can’t land here at Pullman, maybe it’s Lewiston or Spokane, then bus back.”
(What do you see in Stanford?) “I see a team that has the pieces but they haven’t put them together yet. Last year they did a nice job at the very end winning the NIT and they played very well in that tournament. Going into this season I think their expectations were a little higher than they’ve been able to perform so far, but I do believe the pieces are there. They have a lot of talent, they have a group of guys that play well together. I think it’s just a matter of time before they click and play really good basketball.”
(What can Brock Motum do to get open when teams front him?) “There’s some things that he can do better. One would be to set more screens and all of a sudden it becomes like a double screen because of the way they’re guarding him. And we need to work with him on how to get open, different ways to get open in those circumstances.”
(Did Mike Ladd struggle with that, too?) “A little bit, but I thought he held his composure and dealt with it pretty well. He didn’t get too rattled. He tried to get it there at times. We tried to run some other options to get the ball to Brock. Again, Washington did a nice job of taking that way but like I said in the postgame, 35 minutes into the game we’re up four even though they did a nice job of taking Brock out of it the majority of the time. Other guys stepped up and made big plays for us to be there right at the end.”
On the Pac-12 coaches teleconference, Bone was asked to explain his strategy of fouling Washington to get into the bonus instead of trying to play defense with about 41 seconds left. Bone said he didn't want to get stuck in a situation where there wasn't enough time left to foul. “They’d hit some nice shots from the perimeter, they had scored in the paint, they’d also done a good job on the offensive glass in that last three or four minutes so we chose to strategically start fouling to make sure we got into the bonus. We didn’t want to get in a situation where now all of a sudden there’s eight, 10, 12 seconds left and we only hae three fouls on us and now we’re trying to get them into the bonus. We felt we could easily run out of time by doing it that way.” … Asked why WSU has had so much trouble winning close games this season — Saturday included — Bone said: “We were not as efficient and that’s what we need to be. To win close games you’ve got to be good in those last few minutes. We turned it over a couple times and we just didn’t execute the way we needed to. Saying that, we executed a few plays extremely well, using Brock Motum as a decoy and hitting Will DiIorio. All in all, we need to be better, I need to be better down the stretch to help us win.”