The Cougars finished their tour 2-3, dropping their final three games after two wins against teams from Australia's top professional leagues. Senior Brock Motum highlighted the trip with a 41-point scoring exhibition in WSU's 86-81 loss to the Skytrans Cairns Taipans.
Scoring feat aside, Ken Bone said the true takeaway came before the team left campus.
"One of the neat things about the trip was that we were able to practice 10 days prior to leaving," Bone said. "I thought we really achieved quite a bit during those practices. Just being able to introduce so many of our philosophies on both ends of the court is advantageous and then going on the trip to incorporate those things into game situations can only benefit your team."
Disappointed that Que Johnson and James Hunter weren't cleared by the NCAA in time to make the trip, the Cougs' head man nonetheless sounded pleased with the pair of freshmen who did.
"We did learn a little about both," Bone said when asked about Richard Longrus (he goes by "Junior") and Brett Boese. "It's not really alarming because they're both 3.9 students, but they're very intelligent basketball players, too. They're disciplined, they're coachable and we're excited about both of those guys."
Hunter, a junior college transfer from Wyoming's Gillette College, was cleared two days after the team left for Australia. Johnson's situation was detailed in this recent CF.C article earlier this week.
FOLLOWING LONGRUS' WORK in Australia, Bone said the newcomer showcased attributes that could make him a candidate to play right away.
The 6-foot-7, 232-pound power forward out of Oakland, Calif. scored nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in his team's 86-74 loss to the Nollongong WRE Hawks on August 10. But it's not his scoring that Bone is most enamored in.
"He's just a solid player," Bone said. "At this point, he's a solid player that doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He takes pride in his defense and his ability to rebound. That's refreshing to have a guy, especially of that age, to understand right now, ‘My role isn't to be a scorer.' That's half the battle, especially for guys who are freshman. He hasn't batted an eye. He knows what his role is and goes out and does it."
ONE COUGAR STILL looking to settle into his role is Royce Woolridge. A highly touted high school shooting guard of out Phoenix who transferred to WSU from Kansas last year, the redshirt sophomore struggled to find his shooting form in Australia. Woolridge shot just 6-for-30 combined from the field in five games.
The trip marked the first time in two-and-a-half years Woolridge played in an actual game, according to Bone.
"It's wait and see," Bone said when asked about Woolridge's ceiling. "We don't know where he's at. We're just judging it from what we've seen in five games… He did some good things. He's quick. He's a good shooter, but like most guys who are new to the program he's got a long ways to go."
BONE SAID HE plans to sign three players during the 2013 recruiting cycle. He also explained his philosophy about potentially locking up recruits in April as opposed to November's early signing period.
"I think the pendulum is changing a little bit," Bone said. "Six or eight years ago about 90 percent of the kids were signing early. Now, there's quite a bit to be said for waiting and signing late.
"After a season where coaches have had a chance to dissect their team… some guys might leave early, some guys might not fit in as well as you thought. You just have a better perspective of what your needs are in the spring."
Bone said he's been happy with his staff's ability to implement their coaching philosophy heading into his fourth year in Pullman. However, he lamented the fact nearly the number of players who have left the program since he took over in 2009 is approaching double-digits.
"I wish there hadn't been so much turnover but sometimes it's just absolutely inevitable that there's going to be changes," Bone said. "I think a lot of times if you are trying to do it the right way it stunts the growth of the program.
"You add up all the guys—seven or eight guys and that's a lot.
"There's been a lot of change and I think that's stunted the growth of the program as far as when it comes to wins and losses."
Bone didn't detail what positions he's looking to fill with the three scholies in the 2013 class but a quick check of the WSU roster shows three seniors (two guards, one forward); four juniors (two forwards, one center, one guard); *four sophomores (three guards, one forward) and five freshmen (three guards and two forwards.)