Feb. 16, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; A couple of Washington State Cougars students cheer during game against the Oregon Ducks during the first half at the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Basketball has been on a steady decline since the current coaching staff took over five seasons ago. The Cougs went from a pretty highly competitive NCAA Tournament team, to a quality NIT team, to a CBI runner-up, to a non-qualifier and tied for last place, to the preseason last-place finisher in the Pac-12 Conference in 2013.
When I write that, I am really bummin’ about just exactly what has happened to the program since Ken Bone took it over. Unfortunately I don’t see any any positive way to spin that particular stat (12th place).
How does Washington State turn it around? Bone and staff had some shake ups in the staff over the Summer… the addition of Rod Jensen is actually a welcome sight, especially with the experience that he brings. However the losses of Ben Johnson and Jeff Hironaka (in my opinion the two best coaches that Bone had on his previous staff by a long ways) are going to really hamper player progress. The overall staff has become very young.
Bone also made moves to try and increase his teams’ scoring, putting together a full court defense. The idea is to help generate some easy chances off turnovers… basically to do to other teams what they did to Washington State last season.
Expectations are probably the lowest I can ever remember, but the Cougs do finally have some athletes at their disposal. Newcomers Ike Ireogbu, Jordan Railey, Josh Hawkinson and Que Johnson will all be a major part of the game plan. Whether they’ll be able to gel and become better at what other teams do than they are in time to save Bone’s job is yet to be seen.
I’m excited to see this new brand of basketball play out with some new faces in the lineup that should generate some enthusiasm in the program. However I’m not holding my breath that this young coaching staff can get it done with a team that possesses basically zero team chemistry in terms of time together on the court.