Ken Bone and Washington State had a serious problem a week ago; Not only had they lost 9 straight, but they were down 2 starters after losing DaVonte Lacy to a late injury in yet another emotional loss at Washington. All that remained were 6 rotational players and 2 walk-ons to complete the impossible task of taking on UCLA (whom they hadn’t beaten in 19 years in Pullman) and surging USC at home. Ladd did end up making it back for USC but that didn’t and doesn’t change what I’m about to say.
Something happened when the Cougs were down to “bare bones” (no pun intended). Ken Bone changed the entire attack of his offense to conserve energy and at the same time tire out the other team. It was brilliant! The offense all year has been lacking motion, backdoor cutting, ball movement and creativity. So basically he took WSU’s stagnancy and one on one matchup play and threw it out the window. What happened next made Washington State a really dangerous team going into the Pac-12 Tournament.
Instead of running up the floor, he made Woolridge walk the ball up the floor and set up a pseudo-Princeton offense with a lot of movement to the basket and screening, which began to get the team going. It’s been said many times by the coaching staff and people that follow the team closely that this might be the most tightly knit group Bone has had in his 4 seasons, if lacking of a guy like Klay Thompson. And so this offense makes perfect sense, even if and especially when the team has a full compliment of their players.
The Princeton offense was meant to take advantage of 3 goals;
- aggressive and overplay defense by the other team
- smart players with great basketball IQ, passing skills and chemistry on your team
- easy shots late in the shot clock
Spreading out the defense for Washington State accomplishes the first goal for easy baskets on screens and backdoor cuts, as well as flashes to the mid to high post areas because the teams of the conference are so athletic they all play overly aggressive. The second, as stated before is taken advantage of because the Cougs possess more IQ on the floor than athleticism, when you evaluate individual matchups at every position. That’s just how Bone recruits, which has frustrated Coug fans to no end because the conference IS so athletic, until we saw what he was trying to do this week. The third has been worked to perfection, as the Cougs have taken their foot off the gas and a lot of possessions into the final 8 seconds of the shot clock (hello again Bennett ball, it’s been so long!)