For Cougs who want more PT, path is simple

THERE WAS A time earlier this season for Ken Bone where it was about Cougar players earning starts and game minutes through what they had done in practice. Bone made it clear on Tuesday that time has passed.

For players like Que Johnson, Ike Iroegbu and others, they're going to have to earn more playing time based on what they do in games, Ken Bone said.

Sure, he said, Johnson would probably play better if he got the start at Idaho and was out there for the full 40 minutes.

"But he hasn't proven he warrants that time," said Bone.

And that also seems to hold true for most every other Cougar, save perhaps two.

"DaVonté Lacy and Junior Longrus are our two most consistent players. Everyone else is just having moments," said Bone.

IF ALL THAT sounds like Bone was upset, quite the contrary. Rather, he sounded energized on Tuesday despite coming off an Old Spice Tournament where WSU went cold down the stretch and lost two of three games.

"I like some of the pieces we saw (in Orlando) and there were moments we played outstanding basketball," said Bone.

And about the Cougs' inability to close, which was a problem last season as well?

"I'm not concerned right now -- if it does continue I would be concerned," said Bone. "But we played three opponents (on the road) and I thought our guys handled adversity well on the road. We need to be better… but I'm not too concerned over (that) the last three games."

IN FOOTBALL THERE are always times early on where the offense is ahead of the defense and vice versa. Does the same hold true in basketball early in the season, especially when implementing a new defense?

Bone said he likes the Cougs' defensive sets and that most years the defense is ahead early on – but this year has shaped up differently because the Cougs have changed up their defense and they're going more, in recent games, to a matchup zone.

And a matchup zone, said Bone, isn't something you can truly get squared away in 2-3 weeks. But…

"But we're hoping to be as good as we can be in early January," said Bone.

BONE SAID LACY's scorching hot start this season wasn't something he was expecting when the season game. That also presents a dilemma – do you try and get Lacy even more shots or is it most important to get some other scorers going a bit? It sounds like Bone wants both.

"None of us foresaw he would score 20 (20.5 ppg) a night...he's not forcing a ton of shots, he's shooting well from (everywhere) and playing good basketball. We might look to him get him ball more but I also think other guys will step up," said Bone.

AS FOR LONGRUS, this may be the point CougFans will look back on where his confidence started to emerge. He's played in all six games, started two and is averaging 18 minutes per game. And those numbers would appear likely to increase.

Bone on Tuesday lauded the second-year sophomore for his play on both ends of the court. Longrus averaged 10.2 minutes per game last year and while he still doesn't take a lot of shots, he's 8-17 from the floor this season (.471). Last year he took all of 34 shots, and he's already halfway there through six games.

Longrus in six games has 24 rebounds (4.0), if he were to maintain that pace he's double his output from last year (2.0 rpg).

MEANWHILE, THERE'S ANOTHER COUGAR big Bone is clearly high on -- Jordan Railey. But the success of that proposition so far has been determined on whether he can stay out of foul trouble.

But Bone made it clear he wants to establish a strong inside game offensively, whether that's through Longrus-Railey or a combination of D.J. Shelton and others, such as Josh Hawkinson.

"We don't just want to be perimeter oriented," Bone stressed.

But sometimes they've had to. After the long road trip to Florida, WSU's bigs and the rest of the team should be well rested when they take the court at Idaho on Saturday night (7 p.m.)

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