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WSU basketball gets exposure with all 18 Pac-12 games on TV

PULLMAN – Nearly all of Washington State’s basketball games will be televised this season, and most of them by the Pac-12 Networks.

Fourteen of the Cougars’ 18 league games will air on the Pac-12 Networks, with three of the other four airing on ESPNU, and the regular-season finale against UCLA in Pullman airing on FOX Sports 1. At least 28 WSU games will be televised overall.

WSU opens the Pac-12 season on the road at Arizona and Arizona State, and its first conference home game will be played in Spokane against Colorado on Jan. 8.

Nearly gone from the schedule are the traditional Thursday-Saturday matchups during Pac-12 play.

WSU plays just one such weekend – its games against USC and UCLA to close the season. The Cougars play two Thursday-Sunday weekends (both on the road, at the Arizona and Oregon schools), as well as two Wednesday-Sunday weekends (both at home, against the Oregon schools and Colorado and Utah).

WSU’s schedule also includes a Friday game on Feb. 28 at Washington. Seven of the Cougars’ Pac-12 games will begin at 7 p.m. or later.

Johnson leaving

WSU announced Tuesday that assistant coach Ben Johnson has “decided to leave” the men’s basketball program. Coach Ken Bone told the Spokesman-Review that Johnson plans to move back to Cairns, Australia, where he played and coached for several years. Johnson’s wife is also from Cairns.

Johnson began as an assistant in 2004 under former coach Dick Bennett, eventually coaching under Dick’s son, Tony, and was the lone holdover from Bennett’s staff when coach Ken Bone was hired in 2009.

Bone said that when he kept Johnson on staff upon his arrival at WSU, Johnson told him he planned to move back to Australia at some point in the future.

“We were very fortunate to have him in the program the last four years,” Bone said. “He’s just a great person. High character, great basketball knowledge. He’s been a huge asset to our program.”

Bone said he wasn’t sure if Johnson has accepted another coaching job. He also said newly hired director of player development Rod Jensen, renowned as a defensive specialist, is “definitely” a candidate to replace Johnson as assistant. Bone hopes to fill that position “real soon,” and said he’s spoken with candidates in the past 48 hours.

This is the second departure from WSU’s coaching staff in the past few months. Jeff Hironaka left to take an assistant job at Portland State over the summer after spending a season in a lesser role as director of player development.