After five seasons as Washington State University Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Ken Bone awaits a decision from WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos this off-season. Finishing 11th in the Pac-12 Conference in the last two seasons, Bone and everyone in Pullman knows the Cougar Head Coach is on the hot-seat. While there have been no reports Moos has let go Bone yet, the athletic director has said he’s got a short leash for Football and Men’s Basketball.
Bone does have two years left on his contract and if let go, the University will owe him $ 1.7 million. However Moos said that will not play any factor in his decision on whether to keep him or let him go.
“The issue is to have the best coach available and the best experience for the student athletes,” The WSU Athletic Director said. “Out of the seven years, there’s only two left. That’s manageable if that’s the route we want to go.”
If Moos decides to go with that route, here’s ten possible candidates for the WSU men’s head basketball job (in no particular order):
Leon Rice- Boise State Head Coach: Once a Coug always a Coug. Rice attended Washington State University and graduated in 1986. It would be a great story to see a head coach return to his alma-mater, however this program is in desperate need of winning. Rice has had success as the head coach at Boise State and has led the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament before. Rice’s coaching record at Boise State is 75-53, and has led his team to 19 wins so far this season. Yes he did it in the WAC Conference, but Rice know’s how to win. Before Boise State, he spent 12 seasons as a Gonzaga assistant coach. He’s seen how Gonzaga men’s basketball Head Coach Mark Few runs his basketball program in Spokane, which maybe has rubbed off on Rice.
Ernie Kent- Former Oregon Head Coach: Though Kent has been out of coaching for three years, and is currently an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks, the man knows the game of basketball. Along with knowing how competitive coaching in the Pac-12 Conference can get. Kent led the Ducks to five NCAA tournament appearances including two Elite Eight Appearances. Kent’s success with the Ducks came before Oregon received their new facility upgrades. With the Cougars having average facilities for basketball, Kent would be no stranger to it and would know how to work around it. He’d be able to land recruits since he’s had a history of getting to the Big Dance.
Bruce Pearl- Former Tennessee Head Coach: This would be a long shot if Moos can land Pearl. Though the athletic director took a chance on bringing in Mike Leach as the football coach which was a genius move, Pearl would be a different story. Yes Pearl would attract fans to Beasley Coliseum, however the sanctions against him don’t run out until August. So if Moos were to bring Pearl on board, the university would have to win a “show case” in order for the sanctions to not take place. During his time at Tennessee, Pearl led the Volunteers to multiple tournament appearances and finished with a coaching record of 145-61.
Ben Howland- Former UCLA Head Coach: Howland is another coach who would be a long shot. It would be hard to convince Howland to coach in Pullman when his last job was in the beautiful city of Los Angeles, Calif. But WSU is a Pac-12 school, and gives him an opportunity to do something than rather sitting at home on the couch. Howland was let go by the Bruins after appearing in the NCAA Tournament only twice in his last four seasons as a coach. If he accepts the job as WSU men’s head basketball coach, he’ll have to work extra hard at recruiting players to Pullman because it won’t be as easy as it was for him in LA.
Damon Stoudamire- Arizona Assistant Coach: Yes Bill Moos did say that right now head coaches are only on his list as potential replacements for Bone, but this would be a great hire for WSU and is my personal favorite candidate for the job. Stoudamire knows the game as well as any coach in the country. He was an All-American point guard for Arizona, he’s learned from legend head coach Lute Olson. He played in the NBA for 13 seasons and has had experiencing with coaching. Stoudamire was an assistant for at Memphis for two seasons and is currently the Arizona Assistant coach under Sean Miller. Miller said in an interview with espn.com that Stoudamire is a great recruiter which something WSU desperately needs. This is a wildcard pick, but could be a coach Cougar fans would enjoy see running their team.
Dedrique Taylor- UC Fullerton Head Coach: Taylor is no stranger to the Pac-12 Conference. He was an assistant at Arizona State for seven seasons and during that time helped the Sun Devils achieve a 120-109 record during that stretch. Though he’s currently in his first season with the Titans, it’s unlikely he’ll be Moos’ first candidate, but a bright young coach who knows the Pac-12 and has coached NBA superstar James Harden.
Andy Toole- Robert Morris Head Coach: Toole is a young head coach and has four years of head coaching experience at Robert Morris. His current record at Robert Morris is 87-48, and his team is 19-12 with only two losses in conference play. Though the Pac-12 Conference is a tough conference to coach in, Toole brings in a mentality to win and could give this program some life.
Dan Monson- Long Beach State Head Coach: Monson has rebuilt the Long Beach State basketball program and has been with the program for seven seasons. Monson has experience coaching in Eastern Washington. He was the head coach of the Gonzaga Bulldogs for two seasons and in 1999, he led the Bulldogs to a 28-7 record and an Elite Eight appearance. He’ll know how to recruit players to play in Pullman. Monson also spent seven years as the Minnesota Gophers Head Coach. Monson led Long Beach State to the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and has an overall coaching record of 103-89 at Long Beach State.
Randy Bennett- St. Mary’s Head Coach: Besides Gonzaga being a dominate force in the WCC, St. Mary’s has been a team to be reckon with in the conference. Bennett has led the Gaels to the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons. Including this season, eight of the 13 seasons he’s coached at St. Mary’s, the Gaels have won at least 20 games. Again a coach who hasn’t had experience coaching in a big conference like the Pac-12, but is a winner no doubt.
Stew Morrill- Utah State Head Coach: Morrill was interested in the WSU head coaching job five years ago, and has turned Utah State into a successful basketball program. He’s led Utah State to eight tournament appearances and has a coaching record of 345-119. The head coach is 61 years old and has been around the game of basketball for a long period of time. If Moos wants a veteran to coach his men’s basketball team, then Morrill is the answer.
–Evan Baron (Follow Me On Twitter: @Evan_Baron)