Bone embraces D and local recruiting

IF KEN BONE IS hired as Washington State's next basketball coach, expect ongoing commitment to tight defensive play. And one big change in recruiting: He'll go after prep talent in the Pacific Northwest like no Cougar boss since Marv Harshman. At Portland State over the last four years and, before that, as a Washington assistant and Seattle Pacific head coach, Bone mined the region with abandon.

"There is so much talent in the Northwest," he once said. "I really think you can win if you do your homework."

The area between Portland and Vancouver, B.C., is prime territory for hoops talent, he believes.

Indeed, his Portland State team that just finished 23-10 and made a second-straight trip to the Big Dance featured eight players from the I-5 corridor. Two of them, guards Dominic Waters and Jeremiah Dominquez, were all-Big Sky performers.

At Washington, where he was an assistant to Lorenzo Romar from 2002-05, he was key in landing highly prized Jon Brockman of Snohomish.

And at Seattle Pacific, where he was head coach for 12 seasons, he compiled a sterling 253-97 record (.723) largely with regional talent. The Falcons made eight NCAA Division II playoff appearances and advanced to the Sweet 16 five times under Bone.

Bone's affinity for regional talent comes naturally. He was born and raised in Seattle and his dad was a long-time high school basketball coach. Bone played collegiately at SPU for two years and one year each at Shoreline and Edmonds community colleges.

Harshman, who coached the Cougars from 1958-71, relied exclusively on Northwest talent his first ten years at the helm. Until Dennis Hogg of Oakland joined the program in 1968, the most far-flung sources of WSU talent were Idaho and Montana.

WHILE BONE IS inclined -- unlike Tony Bennett -- to run on offense, he is very Bennett-esque on defense.

"When you recruit kids, 90 percent of the time they're offensive-oriented -- kids that can score, kids that can shoot," Bone told the Portland Oregonian in a January interview. "The key is, can you get them to buy into the defensive philosophy and understand that half of the game is on defense.

"It's not like we have a football team with an offensive unit and a defensive unit. In basketball, if you're playing offense, you're playing defense. Or you better be ... Defense has to be a part of the equation, and I think one of the huge reasons why is because it's a team game," Bone said. "And when it comes down to it, championship teams usually have a lot of good team chemistry, and I believe it starts on the defensive end."

Bone told the Oregonian the Vikings' basic defensive philosophy is to "pressure and deny." That means to blanket the player with the ball and cut off passing lanes.

Like Dick and Tony Bennett, Bone prefers man-to-man defense, though he doesn't shun the zone to the same degree as the Bennetts. Bone doesn't employ a lot of trapping, pressing or double teaming.

"To me, defense is mental," Bone told the Oregonian. "These kids have the same, exact tools that they have on the offensive end, but a lot of guys don't like to play defense. It's not fun. It's not glamorous. You don't have people saying, 'Wow, you had three deflections and did some real good contesting of shots!' People aren't into that. So to get a bunch of 20-year-olds to buy into defense is a challenge."

In each of the last two seasons, Portland State led the Big Sky Conference in scoring (73 points per game) and, surrendering 68 points per game, was within four points of the conference leader in defense.

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