The Highs and Lows of the Ken Bone Era at WSU

IN A MOVE predicted for months, Washington State today fired basketball coach Ken Bone after five seasons per WSU sources. Despite two years and $1.7 million remaining on his contract, his ouster was considered a foregone conclusion when it became clear the Cougs would struggle to equal last year's four Pac-12 wins. They won three. Here are CF.C's choices for the highs and lows of the Bone Era...

5 MOST NOTABLE WINS
1. Cougs 81, Gonzaga 59 (season 2/2010-11):
En route to a 10-1 start to the season, the Cougars routed the Zags, who had just fallen out of the top 25 a week earlier, by 22 in front of a hyped Pullman crowd. It marked the largest Coug victory over GU since 1982. Klay Thompson had 24 points, 7 steals, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Except for this 2013-14 season, Bone's Cougars always played the Zags tight, but the 2010-11 game marked the only WSU victory.

2. Cougs 87, No. 18 Washington 80 (season 2/2010-11):
The Cougars improved to 15-6 with a stirring Friel Court win over the nationally-ranked Huskies. Klay Thompson had 25 points, 4 assists and 5 steals while Reggie Moore scored 18.


KLAY THOMPSON AVERAGED 19.6 AND 21.6 POINT PER GAME IN HIS TWO SEASONS PLAYING FOR BONE.

3. Cougs 80, Washington 69 (season 2/2010-11):
In Seattle, the Cougs fueled their NCAA Tourney hopes by knocking off the Dawgs for the second time that season, and improving to 18-10 overall and 8-8 in Pac-10 play. Klay Thompson led the way with 26 points while DeAngelo Casto scored 20 and pulled down 13 rebounds.

4. Cougs 73, No. 23 UCLA 61 (season 4/2012-13)
The Cougars capped a tough year with a sweep of the Los Angeles schools in Pullman in the final two games of the regular season. The sweep began with a Wednesday night victory over nationally ranked UCLA that was led by Brock Motum, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Royce Woolridge scored 19 and Dexter Kernich-Drew had 11 points and 11 rebounds. The upset was especially notable because it ended a 19-game home losing streak to the Bruins that dated to 1993. It was just the 15th WSU win over the Bruins in program history and Bone's first against UCLA.

5. Cougs 77, No. 15 Baylor 71 (season 2/2010-11):
Klay Thompson hit two clutch 3-pointers down the stretch and finished with 20 points as the Cougs knocked off nationally ranked Baylor in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic.

SINGLE-WORST DEFEAT
Arizona 60, Cougs 25 in the conference opener of this just-concluded season. In the minds of many Cougar fans, this was the proverbial nail in Bone's coaching coffin at Washington State.

5 BEST RECRUITS
1. BROCK MOTUM: The lanky Aussie initially was landed by Ben Johnson under Tony Bennett, but Bone sealed the deal by hopping on a plane Down Under shortly after taking over as head coach to make sure Motum stayed on a glide path to Pullman. By the time the lefty from Queensland concluded his WSU career he was a two-time conference scoring champion. He ranks No. 5 on WSU's all-time scoring list and No. 18 on the all-time rebounding chart.

2. DaVONTE LACY: A three-year starter with a year of eligibility left, he battled injuries in 2013-14 and still established himself as one of the best players in the Pac-12. He averaged nearly 20 points and over 4 rebounds per game this past season en route to honorable mention all-conference recognition. He is the ninth-fastest in WSU history to hit 1,000 career points.


AFTER INVESTING THREE SEASONS IN REGGIE MOORE, THE PAYOFF OF HIS SENIOR YEAR WAS LOST WHEN HE VIOLATED TEAM RULES AND WAS DISMISSED.

3. REGGIE MOORE: He ranks No. 6 on WSU's all-time assists list and No. 30 on the all-time scoring list. As a freshman, he ran circles around Xavier Thames in the battle to become the Cougars' starting point guard and flashed a bright future that season, averaging 12.2 points and 4 assists per game. He was dogged by a wrist injury as a sophomore but came on strong as a junior in 2011-12 earning honorable mention all-conference honors after leading the lead league in assists while averaging 10.2 points per game. Appeared poised for a banner senior season in 2012-13 but was dismissed from the squad for a violation of team rules.

4. D.J. SHELTON: For plain ol' bottom-line production, it's tough to argue with Shelton being on this list. He started all 32 games a year ago and was a double-double machine this season. He pulled down enough boards this year to break into WSU's single-season top 10 list – the first player to do so since Carlos Daniel in 1997-98.

5. TRAMAINE ISABELL: He's signed and sealed for the Cougs and just capped a spectacular senior season at Class 4A Seattle powerhouse Garfield. Possesses an uncommon mix of speed, ball handling ability, outside shooting touch, drive-and-convert skills, and defense. Only time will tell how he fares on the college level, but there is every reason to believe Bone has handed his successor a true gem.

5 BIGGEST RECRUITING DISAPPOINTMENTS
1. RICHARD PETERS: At 6-10 and 260 pounds, this 3-star teammate of Que Johnson's at Westwind Academy was thought to be WSU's long-sought "center of the future" when he signed on to the 2012 class. A high-energy player with agility, ballast and the skill to shoot with either hand, he attracted offers from Indiana, Auburn, Clemson, Seton Hall, Washington and others and truly looked to be a difference maker for WSU. Alas, he failed to qualify academically and wound up in junior college.

THE BONE RECORD


Overall: 80-86 (.480)
Conference: 29-61 (.315)

2009-10:
16-15 overall, 6-12 conference (10th place)
Out in first round of conference tourney; no post-season bid

2010-11:
22-13 overall, 9-9 conference (6th place)
Made it to quarterfinals of conference tourney and semifinals of NIT

2011-12:
19-18 overall, 7-11 conference (tied 8th)
Out in first round of conference tourney; advanced to championship of CBI

2012-13:
13-19 overall, 4-14 conference (tied 11th)
Out in first round of conference tournament; no post-season bid

2013-14:
10-21 overall, 3-15 conference (11th)
Out in first round of conference tournament; no post-season bid


For all the news, information, opinion and recruiting insight available on Cougfan.com and its Scout.com network, click here to subscribe and start your 7-day free trial!
2. XAVIER THAMES: Hurdles with the NCAA Clearinghouse limited his participation in early fall workouts during his 2009-10 freshman season at WSU, and he was badly outplayed for the starting point guard spot by fellow freshman Reggie Moore. Thames still averaged 17.9 minutes of playing time that season but coaches said he had mentally checked out of Pullman after returning from Christmas break. He later transferred to San Diego State, where he currently is a fifth-year-senior and widely viewed as one of the top playmakers in the nation.

3. DANNY LAWHORN: The JC transfer was brought in for the just-concluded season and was expected to contribute significantly because he was not only a true point guard but one with superior quicks. He was dismissed from the team for undisclosed reasons before ever playing a game. His presence may not have salvaged the Cougs' season but losing him was a major blow.

4. GREG SEQUELE: Athletic and chiseled, he was a 6-8, 220-pound double-double kind of guy out of Los Angeles who reminded observers of DeAngelo Casto. He needed work on technique but was just the type of player former WSU assistant coach Ben Johnson would have done wonders with at the 4 spot. He signed with WSU in 2011 -- the same recruiting class as DaVonte Lacy and D.J. Shelton -- but didn't qualify academically and wound up at College of Idaho for a year before heading to DePaul.

5. STEVEN BJORNSTAD: Undone by debilitating knee problems, this 6-10 forward from Vancouver, Wash., was part of Bone's first recruiting class but never played in a game and hung it up in 2011 after two seasons. Coming out of high school, he was a 3-star prospect considered a solid defender and shot blocker who could run the court and offered a nice shooting touch in the paint. He needed to put on muscle, but WSU's perennial woes in the post under Bone would have been less severe had Bjornstad panned out.

FUNNIEST MOMENT
January 12, 2012 at UW:
Midway through the second half of a game against the Huskies two years ago, Bone trotted onto the court to get the attention of refs who weren't noticing his signal for a timeout. The coach took a mighty tumble, with the TV cameras right there to catch it, but he was able to laugh about it as Abe Lodwick came over to check on him (photo at left).

"That was quite a spill," Bone good-naturedly told reporters after the game, which the Cougars lost. "I hit the deck hard, but I'm fine. I'll bounce back just like I hope we do."

OVERTIME WOES
The Cougars played 12 overtime games during Bone's five seasons, going 3-9. Eight of the nine losses were against Pac-12 teams, with Oregon accounting for three of them. Pepperdine, in 2012-13, was lone non-conference loss in OT. Each of the three OT wins came against non-conference foe: LSU in 2009-10, Santa Clara in 2010-11 and Northwestern in the 2011 NIT quarterfinals.

WHO HE'S NOT
Neither from a competitive standpoint, a what's-left-in-the-cupboard standpoint, nor a relationship standpoint is Ken Bone anywhere close to Paul Graham, who in four seasons (1999-00 to 2002-03) as WSU head coach won a total of nine conference games. Graham's name seems to be bandied about a lot these days relative to Bone -- and it's just preposterous. Graham burned bridges with players, high school coaches and donors, and put a horribly non-competitive squad on the court four straight years. None of that can be said of Bone.

2 MEMORABLE RUNS
The Cougs made the post-season twice under Bone. Neither appearance was in the NCAA Tournament, but they made serious waves with both opportunities. In the 2011 NIT, the Cougs defeated Long Beach State, Oklahoma State and Northwestern before falling to Wichita State in the semifinals. And in the 2012 CBI, they beat USF, Wyoming and Oregon State to advance to the championship series, where they fell 2 games to 1 against Pitt.


THOMPSON APOLOGIZED TO FANS BEFORE THE MARCH 2011 UCLA GAME FOR LETTING THEM DOWN.

BEST-COACHED GAME
March 5, 2011 vs. UCLA in Pullman:
Klay Thompson was sitting on the bench, serving a one-game suspension for his infamous run-in with the law, and Reggie Moore was by his side with a bum ankle. The Cougars were in the hunt for an NCAA Tourney berth and their point guard and star shooter were planted on the pine with UCLA in the house for the final game of the regular-season. No one gave the Cougs a chance, but Bone dialed up an attack that was nothing less than spectacular.

He started walk on senior Ben Loewen at the point, slowed the pace and had his guys slashing and dashing on the backside for reverse layups. They high posted. They fired up just enough three-point attempts to keep things interesting, and deployed the fast break judiciously. At the defensive end, they dished up various zones, interspersed some man-to-man, and generally harassed the hell out of UCLA. Marcus Capers & Co. hustled, slid, helped out and contested up a storm. But for a Faisal Aden trey attempt that was about an inch short at the regulation buzzer, it would have been a crimson victory for the ages. The Cougs fell in overtime but Bone's coaching skills never shone brighter.

OUR FAVORITE ARTICLE ON KEN BONE
In October, we talked with Bone, DaVonte Lacy and D.J. Shelton about the coach's approach to discipline and mentoring. It was an illuminating glimpse into the heart and mind of a guy who has spent 30 years educating young people through basketball. While his won-loss record at WSU drew slings and arrows over the last two years, there's little doubt he's a heck of a human being. Here's the story: Turning missteps into teaching opportunities


BONE HUDDLES EARLIER THIS SEASON WITH DEXTER KERNICH-DREW, QUE JOHNSON AND JUNIOR LONGRUS


Cougfan Top Stories