Bone likes new conference schedule

PAC-12 FOOTBALL PROGRAMS are not the only ones experiencing changes to their standard schedules. Basketball teams are going through a transition that has shifted many games from Thursday to Wednesday. Washington State coach Ken Bone, whose team plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Stanford (TV: Pac-12 Networks), discussed that adjustment and more during his Tuesday teleconference.

Bone said the Cougars (9-5 overall, 0-1 conference) will take a chartered flight out of Pullman to the Bay Area. He said even with a likely detour to Spokane for refueling, the charter plane is beneficial to his program because the team will arrive earlier and can maintain an eating and practice schedule that is similar to the one they use for home games.

In addition, he said the shift to Wednesday games is beneficial to athletes. Bone said WSU typically used to fly out Wednesday for the traditional Thursday and Saturday conference road contests. That resulted in players missing classes Thursday and Friday. With the chartered flight, the Cougars now can arrive home Wednesday night and fly out two days later. Bone said he has one concern, though.

"What will be interesting is our trip back," said Bone, noting that snow could force the team to land in Spokane or Lewiston, Idaho.

Another concern that stems from Saturday's 68-63 loss against Washington was the first-half struggles of senior center Brock Motum. With Motum struggling, WSU started just 2 of 13 from the field as the Huskies built a 21-4 lead. Bone said there are areas where Motum, who averages a team-high 19.4 points per game, can improve when he is fronted.

"One would be to set more screens — it would almost be like a double screen because of the way he's guarded," he said.

Bone credited senior guard Mike Ladd, who had a team-high 16 points, for maintaining his composure during the team's early deficit.

That will be important against the Cardinal (9-6, 0-2). WSU won its last meeting at Stanford, 61-58, on Feb. 10, 2011, to end a five-game road losing streak against the Cardinal. The teams only met once last season with the Cougars prevailing 81-69 at Friel Court.

"I see a team that has the pieces, but haven't put them together yet," said Bone, referring to Stanford. "I thought they would be playing a tad bit better."

He said the Cardinal, which regularly alters its starting lineup, has been hindered by the absence of junior swingman Anthony Brown, who suffered a season-ending hip injury in November.

• Bone previously told reporters that he hoped at the end of the fall semester that highly touted freshman guard Demarquise Johnson would be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center to begin practicing with the team. As a partial qualifier Johnson is not eligible to play this season.

"We're anxiously awaiting," Bone said. "I sent someone a text message here on campus who is involved with that."

He said he has no timetable for when he expects Johnson to gain clearance.

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