HOOPS: Bone's top three questions

THE THREE-POINTER is such a big part of Washington State's offense that Ken Bone and the Cougar coaches have charted every one of the more than 1,000 three-point shots their players have taken since formal practices began three weeks ago. So who all is hot from downtown? Ken Bone provides the answer in a wide-ranging talk with CF.C.

Let's talk turkey. Bone tells CF.C the three biggest questions in his mind headed into fall practices were…

"Do we have the depth to compete at the Pac-10 level? That's the most important thing I was curious about as we entered the fall practice season. With the new recruits and the guys back from last year, are we going to shoot the ball well from behind the 3-point line, because that's a big part of our offense. The third thing is probably just where we are team chemistry wise?" said Bone.

SO WHERE IS Bone in terms of getting his answers to those questions? We'll start with chemistry. And for the 2010-11 team, Bone said they started to really and truly get close during the summer school sessions.

"I like that our guys are not just on the court at the same time, but they're hanging out evenings and on the weekends," said Bone. "This team has really gelled well together -- starting last summer, just being here for summer school. A number of them have said they really enjoy the team more this year than last year. I think it has just taken some time to get to know each other.

"We have some quiet kids in the program. Now they seem real comfortable with each other. And that's huge. That really (shows) when things don't go well, when you can count on guys you're close to."

Some fissures developed within last year's team, cracks that continued to widen as the season came to a close. The feel this year, however, is completely different, says Bone.

"You could just tell, there was a little bit more friction last year," said Bone. "Maybe guys were feeling like someone else was getting in the limelight and getting all the attention. Now, we haven't started the season yet, we don't have any scoring averages, so that can change (laughs). But even last year at this time it seemed like guys were jockeying for position more, and sometimes little jealousies. And we don't have any of that right now. It's been really good. And I think that's huge.

"The main thing, I'm really excited, the whole staff is – we've got a great group of kids. They've really been fun to coach, they've been fun to be on the practice court with and work with. I think it's really critical, the fact that they're just getting along so well."

AS FOR 3-POINT SHOOTING, there's an early top five.

Bone didn't detail what their shooting percentages were, but he did seem pleased. Who are they?

"I can tell you that exactly. Because we've charted over 1,000 shots. Klay Thompson, Reggie Moore, Abe Lodwick, Faisal Aden, Patrick Simon," said Bone.

ON THE TOPIC Bone was most curious about entering fall practice – depth – do the Cougs have enough of it to compete in the Pac-10? Can they make a run? As last year demonstrated in stark fashion, says Bone, that question can't be answered for a while.

"I don't think we'll really know until Pac-10 play begins," said Bone. "Shoot, at one time last year I think we were, not in the Top 25, but in the ‘Also Mentioned'. (Editor's Note: WSU had highs of No. 38 in USAToday Coaches' Poll, No. 52 in AP; They were in the Others Receiving Votes category of the Coaches' poll through Week 7)

"And we had just not played the strength of schedule yet to give us a true reading of where we were. So it's hard to tell right now in practice because we're just competing against each other. We're not competing against other Pac-10 teams. In the early season we have Gonzaga, Kansas State and a few other pretty good teams. And we're not doing that in practice right now, we're going against our own guys.

"So you can get a little bit of a false sense of security in rebounding, or trying to defend – whatever you might be trying to do. I think some of our guys are doing a good job in some of those areas, but the real truth of the matter will come into play once we get into January."

SO WHO ARE the pleasant surprises since hoops' fall practice session began?

"I think some of our returning guys have taken their game to another level. I really like how some of our returners are playing. Although I don't know if that's really a surprise, guys getting better," said Bone.

Okay, but which guys in particular?

"When I do that I leave someone out. I just think most every single guy is performing better now than they did in February and March," said Bone.

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