New WSU hoops coach in 10-14 days?

WASHINGTON STATE athletic director Bill Moos said Monday he hopes to hire the Cougars' new basketball coach "within the next 10 days to two weeks," and prized recruit Tramaine Isabell appears to be willing to wait at least that long before deciding if he will honor his letter of intent with WSU or look elsewhere.

"We're not going to do anything until Washington State comes out with a new coach," Ed Haskins, Isabell's high school coach, said Monday.

Haskins, a former WSU basketball player, coached Isabell at State 4A champion Garfield High School in Seattle. Isabell was fond of fired coach Ken Bone, but he's also close with assistant coach (and acting head coach) Curtis Allen. Isabell's Twitter page still carries "WSU basketball" next to his name.

Moos said the search for the new coach is "going very well." None of the people on Moos' self-described "short list" have been positively identified, and Moos said, "I'm not going to talk about candidates until I introduce the new coach."

MEANWHILE, FOOTBALL COACH Mike Leach, a guest on Moos' weekly radio show Monday, confirmed the Cougars will scrimmage three times this spring.

The Cougars hold the first of 15 spring practices (the NCAA maximum) Thursday in Pullman. The last of three scheduled scrimmages is set for Spokane's Joe Albi Stadium on April 26. WSU will hold one final practice after the scrimmage in Spokane.

"We're really excited about the spring," Leach said. "Spring really is one of the funnest times of the year, because you can experiment and look at some stuff and see where your players are at. There'll be some people that emerge."

Leach has said his coaching staff at WSU is the best he's ever had. On Monday, he specifically complimented his assistant coaches on their recruiting skills.

"When it comes to recruiting," Leach said, "this is as hard a working group as I've had. It's a great group of guys to work with. I'm really honored to have the chance to work with guys as talented as these guys."

Leach also reiterated that the Cougs will open fall camp in Lewiston, Idaho, for the second straight year.

WSU players and coaches said team unity benefited from holding early practices off campus last fall, with everyone staying in dorms at Lewis-Clark State College.

"That was really a good deal for us," Leach said.

LEACH SAID his book on Geronimo, co-written with WSU professor Buddy Levy, will be available May 6.

"Geronimo fans out there definitely need to buy the book," Leach deadpanned.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Mike Breske, another radio show guest Monday, said he believes the Cougars have offered scholarships to 80 defensive players.

With any kind of luck, a few of those players will be able to dunk better than the football players who put on a show of sorts at halftime of the final men's basketball home game.

"My wife said, ‘That's probably the worst slam-dunk contest I've ever seen,'" Breske reported.

WSU SERVED AS the host school for the second- and third-round games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Spokane last week, and Moos said NCAA representatives raved about the work of the Cougars' staff.

"It was flawless and just superbly done," Moos said.

Moos said the "real benefit" of hosting the games is additional exposure for WSU in the all-important Spokane-area market. He noted that local businesses reaped "millions upon millions of dollars" from the tournament.

MOOS FREQUENTLY OFFERS praise for June Daugherty, and nothing changed after the veteran coach guided the WSU women's basketball team to its first post-season appearance since 1991.

"I'm very impressed with the progress we've made in women's basketball," Moos said.

The Cougars finished 17-17 after losing at Montana in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

"To finally get to the post-season in the WNIT, that's a great stepping stone," Moos said. "That's a goal and an objective, and now we can grow from that."

MOOS SAID HE has interviews scheduled this week with three candidates to replace longtime men's and women's track coach Rick Sloan, who is retiring at the end of the season.

"We've had tremendous interest in that position, too," Moos said. "It's a very big hire. The track and field program has the most athletes of any of our programs."

FORMER Washington STATE baseball star Adam Conley, who did not give up a run in his first four exhibition outings with the Miami Marlins, was sent to the minor league camp after being roughed up by the New York Yankees in his fifth game.

Conley gave up four runs (all earned) and four hits in one inning. He wound up 1-0 with a 7.20 earned run average in five games. In five innings, he yielded eight hits and three walks and fanned five.

Conley, 23, pitched in Class AA last year. He is frequently listed as one of the Marlins' top prospects.

A QUICK CHECK on some former Cougar basketball players: San Diego State point guard Xavier Thames, who played at WSU as a freshman, scored 30 points Saturday in Spokane to lead the Aztecs past North Dakota State and into the Sweet 16. Thames, a fifth-year senior, was the Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference.

Patrick Simon, who played two years at WSU, made the NCAA Division II All-West Region first team. The senior forward averaged 16 points per game at Seattle Pacific. He currently leads Division II in 3-point shooting percentage at 50.0 (80 of 160).

Former WSU redshirt Austin Bragg, a senior center at Western Washington, made the All-West second team. Bragg, a walk-on at WSU, never played for the Cougars.

Former WSU guard Josh Akognon is averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 assists per game for Delaware in the NBA Development League. Akognon recently joined the 87ers after finishing seventh in China's top pro league with 28.1 points per game. Akognon's team came in last at 5-29.

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