PULLMAN – As Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk and others search for a new men’s basketball coach in Detroit (see sidebar), the dozen players set to return wait patiently for some idea of their future.
“Everyone wants to be up-to-date as far as what’s happening,” said redshirt freshman Abe Lodwick. “As of right now, I think guys are content to let the administration do their jobs.”
Sterk met with the players earlier this week and assured them he would work quickly to replace Tony Bennett, who announced Monday he was leaving for the University of Virginia.
Sterk assured the players he would listen to their concerns.
“I think it’s important to have opinion be heard and just have everyone be honest about it,” Lodwick said. “We’ve met as a team with (Sterk) and the guys made it clear to him they wanted to have a coach that exemplifies the character that Coach Bennett brought to the team.”
The players elected Lodwick and Nik Koprivica, the only senior on next year’s team, as their liaisons with the athletic department during the search.
“It’s my role to represent the young guys and try to get the best coach we can for our team,” Koprivica said.
“Every guy wants to have input when it comes to (picking) a new coach,” Lodwick said. “But obviously that can’t be possible. So Nik and I will do that for the whole team.”
Lodwick and Koprivica say no one wants to get away from the defensive-first strategy espoused by Bennett, but neither would they be adverse to picking up the offensive tempo.
“I think guys are definitely open to change as far as the way we play,” Lodwick said. “The way we played, obviously, won us games in the past. Defense, half-court offense, that stuff has won us some big games.
“At the same time, there is some really good talent on this team that can excel in different styles.”
Still, as Koprivica said, getting a team consensus on the style played by WSU’s next coach is a near-impossible task.
“You don’t have (the) whole team like one philosophy,” he said. “Somebody plays better run-and-gun and somebody plays better defensively.
“A new coach is going to bring something new to our team and they might help our team play even better. You never know.”
One name that has drawn comment from Sterk is Portland State’s Ken Bone, who guided the Vikings to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.
PSU and Washington State held a closed scrimmage prior to this last season, with Portland putting a beating on the Cougars in stretches.
“I like their style, definitely,” Koprivica said. “They went to the NCAA tournament this year which tells me that program is really good. They’ve gone to the tournament two years in a row so that says their coach is really good.
“Their players love him and I think he’s a great coach.”
No matter who is picked, Koprivica said he expects the players to be happy with the choice.
“We would like somebody who’s really experienced and somebody who knows a lot about basketball, who knows about winning,” he said. “But I wouldn’t go into details because I’m going to trust whatever Jim Sterk and President (Elson) Floyd decide because I know they have a lot of experience hiring coaches.
“Whatever they decide is going to be the best thing for our team.”