Bone said the change of venue — the Cougars won all three of their home games and are 6-0 in program history in NIT contests at Friel Court — is less of a concern than the Shockers (27-8). Wichita State might look unimposing on the statistical ledger as its leading scorer, 6-foot-8 senior T.J. Durley, averages just 11.4 points per game. But a closer examination reveals a skilled offense.
College basketball statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy lists the Shockers' effective field-goal percent from inside the three-point arc as 52.9 percent. That ranks 12th nationally.
"They are very well coached, strong and athletic," Bone said. "It's structured and organized on both ends of the court. They're really well balanced. You can't really play off one or two guys because a lot of guys can hurt you."
Bone said the Cougars (22-12) will fly out of Lewiston, Idaho, at 9 a.m. Saturday. They will practice Sunday and Monday at Columbia University and once for an hour Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden. Bone said his team is staying about six blocks from the arena at Times Square.
He said there are no sight-seeing tours planned, but added that they will take different routes to practices and other functions to see as much of the city as possible.
Bone, who was raised in a basketball family — his father, Walt, coached high-school basketball at Queen Anne and Nathan Hale high schools — said he appreciates the opportunity to coach at Madison Square Garden.
"It is a special place," he said. "Anyone who is a basketball fan knows that."
BUT BONE ALSO sees benefits beyond that. He said the exposure, with games televised on ESPN2, helps recruiting. In addition, Arizona (NCAA) and Oregon (CBI) are the only Pac-10 teams still playing. Conference teams that did not qualify for postseason play, such as Arizona State, Oregon State and Stanford, have not been able to practice for more than two weeks.
"I believe it leads strongly into next year," Bone said. "It's kind of like a bowl game where you get a number of extra practices."
HE ALSO WAS asked again about his team's three marijuana-related arrests. But Bone said he did not have anything more to add about junior center DeAngelo Casto, who was cited for marijuana possession Monday night at his apartment, and initially was suspended by athletic director Bill Moos. But that suspension was lifted before Wednesday's 69-66 overtime win against Northwestern when Moos said more details about the incident began to emerge.
"We've been fair; we've been consistent," Bone said. "That will continue throughout this season."
He instead talked about how he and the coaching staff decided to make dealing with adversity a focal point after last year's season-ending loss against Oregon in the Pac-10 Tournament. Washington State had a promising start to the 2009-10 season before it lost seven of its final nine conference games to finish last in the conference.
"We've addressed that hard since the end of last season," Bone said. "I think our guys have really improved in that area. I think we did the same thing the other night with the way we played against Northwestern."
"The numbers that Abe puts up aren't extremely impressive when it comes to points," he said. "He's probably as valuable as anyone else on the team because of his intangibles. He's a no-maintenance guy."
Bone said that again was displayed against Northwestern when Lodwick missed a pair of free throws with two-tenths of a second remaining in regulation and the score tied at 64. He said Lodwick quickly responded by playing "great defense and going after loose balls."