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The Pack Line defense and Ken Bone

WHILE PLANNED for some time, former Cougar hoops coach Ken Bone formally stepped down this week as associate head coach at Montana after two seasons. What was surprising was a little nugget found in the Missoula newspaper’s article about the move.

Bone’s major area of focus in this past season was defense and the 21-12 Griz were one of the Big Sky Conference’s stingiest Ds as measured by points allowed and field goal percentage against.

“Montana's scheme, known as the Pack Line defense, promoted a team-centric approach and was designed to pressure the ball, take away driving lanes and post-entries, while keeping perimeter defenders in position to get out to shooters,” The Missoulian noted in this article.

Oh, the humanity.

That may not mean much to casual Cougar fans, but to me it's head turning.

The Pack Line defense was the foundation Dick Bennett poured and Tony Bennett then built upon to create the golden years of Cougar hoops with Kyle Weaver, Derrick Low and the gang.

When Bone arrived at WSU for the 2009-10 season he scrapped the Pack Line on D and went with a faster tempo on O – moves some Cougar observers (including this one) believe set the course for his eventual dismissal after the 2013-14 campaign.

As his tenure at WSU progressed, Bone became more defensive minded, though not in the Pack Line way, but it was pretty clear entering his final campaign that he would not be around for the final two years of his contract.

To read this week that he deployed the Pack Line to great effect at Montana is ironic. If he had gone Pack Line in 2009 would he have carried the momentum of the Bennett Years to long-term stability at WSU?

We’ll never know, but I must admit I did a massive double take when I saw Ken’s name in the same sentence as “Pack Line.”

As for his future plans, he sounds pretty wide open.

“I’ve been here a couple years, I’ve enjoyed it. But it’s time to look for something different,” Bone told the Missoulian, offering up a range of possibilities that includes working as an assistant in the pros. “There’s a chance I find something that really fits and it’s good. There might be even a better chance that I don’t coach at all this year and identify some different situations or opportunities elsewhere.”

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