FROM SEATTLE -- Ken Bone met with a couple of reporters yesterday after WSU's practice at KeyArena. He had some noteworthy things to say. We recount them below.
--- Asked to assess his team at this point in the season, Bone said the most important quality of his players might be their understanding that Brock Motum is their best offensive weapon.
Bone said more than once last season that "get the ball to Brock" was his team's No. 1 priority, and that sometimes the players needed to be reminded of that.
"They appreciate and respect the best player, and that’s not always the case," Bone said, also calling the Cougars the most cohesive group he's ever been around. "They understand Brock Motum’s our guy and they embrace it."
Was that a challenge last year?
"You know what, it was a challenge. I won’t say any names but there was a certain guy that really struggled with that, and that happens. Over the years, even when Klay Thompson was with us, I felt there was a guy that struggled. He understood how good Klay was, or understood Klay was good, but every guy wants to get his minutes and his touches.
"At the end of the day, maybe at fault, I’m going to make sure the best players are getting the shots that they need. If you have the luxury like a few years at different places I’ve been, you can divvy that out because you’ve got two, three, four guys that are good. But (if) one guy is definitely your best scorer, that’s the guy we’re going to go to.
"Sometimes that can be to a fault, but this year it’s not. The other day I said, 'OK, guys.' It was our top 10 guys against the scout team and I said, 'you have three plays and you need to score on two of them. You guys decide what you’re going to run and who’s going to be in there.' And it was just like boom, boom, boom. This is what we’re running. Well, all three plays go to Brock.
"And no one said … nothing. It was just like, this is what we’re going to do. If we’re going to score, that’s what we’re doing. That’s a little bit rare. I think basketball can become a very egotistical game. People want to get their points. I really appreciate with this group and Brock’s got the right demeanor and character about him that they want to see him succeed. So that’s big.
"I think they understand it and they accept it. I think they embrace it. They understand, hey – if we are going to be good on the offensive end, Brock is a key guy. Now there’s times we can use him as a decoy, no doubt about it. But he is going to be involved."
--- Bone said Will DiIorio seemed to move around "decent" during Thursday's practice, but that he's still not sure whether he'll play Friday.
"My guess is he’ll be suiting up and we’ll just play it by ear and see what happens.
"He seems to be that guy that with his energy and the effort he brings to the game, he seems to be that guy sometimes that when there’s a pivotal time in the game, he’s been in there. And it’s because he’ll take a charge or grab a huge offensive rebound or just make hustle plays. It’s not like he’s breaking guys down off the bounce or hitting a deep three or getting a dunk, it’s all the other stuff, the intangibles that he brings to the table."
--- Bone said Buffalo's big men will be a challenge for WSU. Included in that group is 6-foot-8 sophomore Will Regan, who played a season for Tony Bennett at Virginia before transferring. Regan has made 14 of his 24 attempts from 3-point range this season. Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon noted that the Bulls' starting point guard, Jarod Oldhan, suffered a wrist injury and will undergo surgery later this month.
"They’re a team that throws a lot of different looks at you defensively and that’s a concern of mine, that we just handle their different looks defensively," Bone said. "And they have two big kids that both do a nice job inside and out. Their leading scorer’s (Javon McCrea) very efficient in the paint, around the rim, works hard, brings a lot of energy to the game. Their other guy (Regan), he can step out and really shoot thre three. He’s shooting like 58 percent from the 3-point line. He’s 6-8 or 6-9 but (if) he can step out and shoot it like that, that draws our big guy out defensively which can potentially hurt us on the boards. That’s the last thing, the rebounding. They’re quick and athletic and we need to be able to rebound better than we have done against teams similar to this team."
--- Witherspoon said the primary incentive for Buffalo to make this trip was the fact that WSU will return it in the future.