Bone praises Cougars' defensive intensity

THE NEW DEFENSIVE rules continue to be a discussion point throughout college basketball. With Washington State switching to a more aggressive defensive style, coach Ken Bone was asked about how his team fared on that end during his Wednesday morning teleconference.

"I like the way our defense played the other night, especially in spurts," said Bone, referring to the Cougars' 62-56 win in Friday's season opener against California State University-Bakersfield. "We were were able to create a little bit of havoc that initiated points."

Bone specifically mentioned freshman Ike Iroegbu and junior DaVonté Lacy turning steals into layups during the second half. Bone repeatedly has said he likes those guards and others, which is part of the reason why redshirt freshman Que Johnson was limited to seven minutes in his first game with the program. Johnson sat out last season as a partial qualifier and then suffered a stress fracture in his leg and knee problems that limited him during summer and fall workouts.

Bone was not sure whether Johnson will see more time when WSU plays at 9:30 p.m. Saturday against Lamar (TV: Pac-12 Networks). Johnson was one of the program's most decorated recruits in recent years when he selected the Cougars over Gonzaga, Washington and others.

"He's behind almost everyone," Bone said. "If he's out there we want to make sure he knows what to do."

Other newcomers struggled with the transition, as well. Centers Jordan Railey, a transfer from Iowa State, and freshman Josh Hawkinson both picked up four fouls in seven minutes versus CSUB. Bone said the new rules, which crackdown on the use of hands, make it difficult to prevent penetration.

"Teams are getting pretty good at just driving it," said Bone, adding that many are driving to the rim as much as possible to draw fouls. "It's hard to defend in that situation."

That does not mean WSU and others are helpless. Bone said his staff are working with players on defending without using their hands — they stress footwork — and help defense.

One ongoing emphasis has been on rebounding. Bone started an unconventional lineup against CSUB — forwards Brett Boese and Junior Longrus and guards Will DiIorio, Iroegbu and Lacy — because they were the best rebounders during practice leading up to the game.

"There's no doubt our kids understand the importance of rebounding," said Bone, adding that intensity continues to show during practices.

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