It’s Tuesday morning so once again Washington State men’s basketball head coach Ken Bone conducted a brief teleconference with media representatives.
The regular season schedule for WSU begins this coming Friday night at 8pm when the Cougars play host to Cal State Bakersfield on Friel Court in Pullman. It will be a great chance for fans to see what this team looks like because the game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
When asked about what to expect from the Roadrunners, Bone left analysis and previews to others.
“…our concern is to get our guys right and looking at the big picture more than each individual game right now,” said the WSU head man.
Though the Cougs won handily in their exhibition opener over Central Washington by a final of 93-56, Bone is looking for much more out of his team defensively.
Citing the quickness of CWU guards Coach Bone expanded on the issue of defense saying, “Would like to see us put a little more pressure on the ball.”
“Royce is a little banged up. He didn’t play as well (last Friday night) as… he’s been playing in practice. He’s been in and out of practice the last few days. That hurt his ability to get into people and pressure the ball.”
Woolridge’s status sounded more like dinged up than injured. “He’ll be fine (to play Friday). (His leg is) not 100% so it’s slowed him down a little bit.”
The issue of getting into the flow of a new defense goes deeper than just the status of one guard. “Once we get out and get comfortable and trust our teammates, that they’ve got our back if we get beat, then we’ll get out and pressure the ball a little bit more.”
Because of new rule changes denying players from using their hands and arm bars to defend, employing any scheme for all of college basketball this season will be a challenge. Washington State is no exception to that task.
Coach Bone had to smile when reflecting on the first half of the CWU game.
“It wasn’t easy. I think there were 30-fouls called in the first half which might be the most I’ve ever been involved with in a lot of years of coaching. That’s just a lot of fouls.”
The new rules may lead to more scoring, but it’s likely they will inadvertently lengthen games and effect the flow of play.
A huge question mark for men’s basketball this year is who is going to replace the offensive output of Brock Motum who graduated last spring.
Part of the answer to how Bone plans to fill the void created by the departure of Motum may be increased scoring from Dexter Kernich-Drew. “Dexter has done a nice job here in the off season expanding his game. He’s been predominantly a shooter for a number of years.”
Bone likens the development of DKD to that of a former WSU great now tearing it up in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson.
“Klay became a great scorer and obviously is doing it at a high level now scoring a variety of ways. Not just shooting jump shots. I think Dexter is just starting to scratch the surface in that area. Again, compared to Klay, he’s beginning to become a multi-dimensional scorer which is important for us and for him. He’s gone from just being a shooter to where now he’s become more of a threat to drive and slash.”
Not only will Ken Bone be searching for ways to replace the presence of Motum, he’ll need a player to step up in place of Mike Ladd who also graduated last spring.
“We lost arguably our two best players. Mike Ladd, even though he got hurt, he could have been the best player on our team even though Brock Motum led us in scoring. Mike Ladd did a lot for our program defensively, rebounding as a guard, assist/turnover ratio and still was able to score 10 or 12 a game. Those two guys gave our program a lot and they’re gone. So I can understand why people would look at the program and say ‘boy there’s not much there.’ I think there’s a little bit more there than people realize so we’ll find out.”
As the season unfolds Cougar Nation will discover just how good this WSU team is.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- Coach Bone updated what Mike Ladd is up to these days. “(He’s) living in Seattle and working at Rainer Beach HS right now not as a regular counselor but he’s working in the counseling office. He’ll be really good at that.”
- The Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners dominated their exhibition game with Occidental 104-63.