FROM PULLMAN -- Ken Bone held his weekly press conference today, and while there is little news, there is an update on Mike Ladd.
The update: he's still doubtful to play this week, but he did manage to get a few more shots up yesterday in practice.
Click the jump for a transcript of Bone's comments.
(On Mike Ladd) "He’s come along. He was on the floor yesterday getting more shots up than usual. That’s about where it’s at. Wasn’t really involved in any drills or anything like that but he got some shots up."
(On this being one of his most favorite teams to coach) "It’s one of the most favorite teams I’ve ever coached and the reason that is, is because no maintenance. Their attitudes and their efforts, especially with what we’ve been through, has been great. They’re a fun group of guys to be around. They’re a group of guys that are doing the right things and I enjoy coaching them. When you get into this business you need to win games. We know the alternative. You need to win ballgames but when you get into the business I think for the most part you want to work with guys and try to develop them as players and develop your team as good teams and these guys allow you to coach them and that’s not always the case. It’s really been a fun year in that sense."
"I think it shows the character of who they are. You don’t really change their character a whole lot. I think it’s because of who they are that we’re able to go on and even though we’re getting beat and we’ve been beat for a while, we’re able to deal with the adversity and move on and stay together as a group."
(On Mike Ladd's career) "Unfortunate. Here’s a young man that transferred from Fresno State, wanted the opportunity to play here in the Pac-12 and be a Coug, paid his own way the first year as a walk-on and then he’s just had some unfortunate luck. The thumb last year, he really wasn’t able to show what he was capable of doing. I think he’s one of the most improved players in the conference. What he was able to do on the defensive end, what he was able to do rebounding wise, running the offense, scoring points yet at the same time running the point guard position, which he had never done in his life -- pretty impressive."
"It’s just too bad. You hope guys come into your program and just play injury-free forever, and that’s not reality. Guys do get injured. And Mike has had two injuries that have held him back. But man, if he wouldn’t have got injured and been able to play injury free for two years, I think he would have had a great two years here."
(On where Brock Motum ranks among the best players he's coached) "He’s definitely one of the best. What makes him one of the best is his attitude, his willingness to accept his role. Of course, it’s a scoring role, which most guys embrace. But there’s times this year where he’s had to set a lot of screens to set other guys up which in turn help him get open, too. But I think what’s made him special is his passion and his desire to compete. He comes out every game, most every practice, and really competes to win. Just like Mike. Same deal."
(Do you see him as an NBA player?) "I think he has a chance. I think he has a chance. A lot of guys that get to the NBA, it’s not just right out of college. Just like recently, Aron Baynes, an ex-Coug who spent three or four years playing overseas, and now he’s in the NBA. I don’t know if that’s the route Brock will take or if he gets drafted or what, but at some point I believe he’s going to have a chance to play in the NBA. He’s done a good job of continuing to develop as a player. He’s better this year than he was last year, even though it doesn’t show as far as points per game. but there’s different dynamics this year within our program and he’s still an extremely valuable player."
"I think Cougar fans all around appreciate who Brock Motum is, and what he’s given to WSU the last four years. Great kid, great player. He’s a better basketball player now than he was a year ago, yet he hasn’t scored quite as many points."
(What's made him better?) "Understanding some of the intangibles to become a great player. Defensively, rebounding, how to handle double-teams, how to handle different situations on the court. I think why he was able to make that jump is one, opportunity for more playing time, and two, his desire to be a great player. He went home each summer and really worked hard on his game. In fact, the guy that’s worked with him over the years is here, he just got to town a couple days ago, and he’s here to watch Brock, he watched Brock in Seattle and he’s here this week to see his last two home games."
(With Motum and Ladd leaving, why can this team be better next season?) "Great question. Same reason I think Klay Thompson was able to continue to improve. He came in here, coach (Tony) Bennett and his staff recruited him and he came in here as a freshman without any other Pac-12 offers and averaged 11or 12 points a game his freshman year, had a really good season. But I think his development the next two years, he became a great scorer and not just a shooter. He’s talked about that quite a bit. I think Brock Motum has done the same thing. I think Mike Ladd has grown as a player. We have other kids in the program right now whether they’re playing this year or redshirting that are developing as players. Sometimes people don’t see that but there’s guys on the backburner that are getting ready for next year that can literally blow up like Brock did or like Mike would have definitely done if he had been injury free. Kelly Olynyk, he’s done it at Gonzaga. People often wonder, well, how is this team going to replace these guys?But there’s other kids that are going to step up the next year and we have those guys."
(On Jordan Railey being one of those guys) "Really more than anything else is just his size and that’s not to take away any of his abilities skillwise, but he's a big kid, the biggest guy we’ve put out there in four or five years, since Aron Baynes. And that size helps. He has good hands, he’s a decent shot blocker. We’re bottom of the Pac-12 in blocking shots, which is not a huge priority for me, but it is nice to have a guy in there with a defensive presence who can potentially block a shot or two. On the defensive end, as good as Brock is, and D.J. (Shelton), they’re kind of combo-bigs, they’re guys that can step out and shoot the ball like they did just the last game and yet go inside a little bit. Jordan is not going to be stepping out and shooting a lot of 3s but inside 10 feet, he’s going to have a presence down there on the offensive end."
"He’s not a bad shooter. He can shoot that mid-range shot fairly well too, and he tells me he can shoot the 3, but I’m not going to listen to him because we need him in the post."
(On Que Johnson playing mostly at the Rec Center) "He wants to play basketball and right now that’s a good place to go to get a pickup game, so he’s over there."
(How essential is he for next year?) "He’s very important to what we want to do for one reason, because we do lose Brock and Mike and yet he can instantly step in and score, and score a variety of ways."
(Does Gonzaga's No. 1 ranking have any bearing on your program at all?) "I don’t really know how to gauge that. I’m happy for those guys, Mark (Few), Ray (Giacoletti), Tommy (Lloyd), Jerry Krause, Donny Daniels. That staff does a great job, they’ve continued to do a great job and they deserve, whether it’s 1 or 2 or 3, whatever up there, they deserve that attention. How that affects us, I really don’t know. It’s good for basketball. It’s good for basketball on the west coast. It’s good for basketball in the northwest. Does it mean that we will outrecruit them? I don’t know."