Bone looks to get offense on track

ONLY ONE TEAM has more conference losses than Washington State as it enters the third week of Pac-12 play. Coach Ken Bone said during his Tuesday teleconference that does not mean the 6:30 p.m. Wednesday contest against Utah (TV: Pac-12 Networks) at Friel Court will be easy, though. After all, one of the Utes' three conference wins last season came against the Cougars.

Despite Utah's record, Bone said WSU (9-7 overall, 0-3 conference) will see an improved team from last season. He said the Utes (8-8, 0-4) have a stronger understanding of second-year coach Larry Krystowiak's defensive system and better players than 2011-12. Bone particularly was complementary of Dallin Bachynski and Jason Washburn's work in the post. That duo combines to average 16.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 54.2 percent from the field.

That could create challenges as the Cougars look for ways to keep senior center Brock Motum, who averages a team-high 19.8 points per game, involved with the offense. Motum scored 29 points during Wednesday's loss at Stanford, but combined for 31 in WSU's other two conference losses. Bone said last week that the Cougars were focused on finding solutions for that, but noted they have not improved much recently.

"Every game is kind of a new storyline on how to defend Brock," Bone said. "[We have to] try and keep him off-guard in practice so he can expect anything."

Motum also has not had much help. During Saturday's 67-54 loss at California, guards DaVonté Lacy and Mike Ladd each scored 12 points. That duo combined to shoot just 10 of 29 from the field, though. Bone said he believes Lacy's struggles have shaken his confidence. One player who has not had an issue with that is sophomore Dexter Kernich-Drew, who made 3 of 5 shots en route to seven points against the Bears.

"Dexter believes he can shoot," Bone said. "DaVonté needs to grab a little of it."

  • Bone said freshman Demarquise Johnson, who is ineligible to compete this season as a partial qualifier, still has not received clearance from the NCAA to practice. He does not have a timetable for when that might occur.

  • Junior center Jordan Railey saw limited playing time during his two seasons at Iowa State, but Bone believes the 6-foot-10 Oregon native can make an impact for the Cougars when he is eligible to compete next season.

    "He's big and physical," Bone said. "We haven't had that since DeAngelo [Casto] left."

    Railey was suspended by the Cyclones in 2011 following his arrest for disorderly conduct, but Bone said he has known him since he coached at Portland State. He praised Railey's character.

    "Jordan is a great kid who is emotional and made some bad decisions," Bone said. "We looked at that hard because of issues we've had here."

  • USC fired coach Kevin O'Neill on Monday after the Trojans split their first four conference games. O'Neill had a 45-61 record and was 19-35 in conference games.

    "The only reaction I have is I'm going to miss him," Bone said. "He's a great guy and an outstanding coach."

    After Bone said he was complementary of O'Neill's defense when they met at a coaches convention a few years ago. O'Neill told Bone he would mail him a packet on it the following day.

    "There's no secrets with him," he said.

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