George, Marv know who Cougs should hire

GEORGE RAVELING and Marv Harshman, two venerable basketball men who know what it takes to win in Pullman, didn't hesitate Thursday when asked by who they'd hire to replace Tony Bennett. They didn't suggest the same person, but they did agree on the type of coach who could continue the mojo created by Dick and Tony Bennett.

Raveling's choice would be Stew Morrill, the long-time Utah State head coach and former head man at Montana and Colorado State. Harshman's choice is Ken Bone, the Portland State head coach and former head man at Seattle Pacific.

The connections to both of these would-be candidates go way back.

Harshman remembers answering the doorbell one day shortly after becoming the coach at Washington and finding an earnest kid from the neighborhood asking if he could be Husky ball boy. Harshman said the two of them would carpool to Husky home games and the young Bone would pepper the veteran coach with questions about basketball strategy.

Around that same time, Raveling first glimpsed Morrill, then an All-Big Sky post player for a Gonzaga team that waged some donnybrooks with Raveling's early Cougars.

"Tony Bennett did a spectacular job at Washington State and I'm sorry to see him go," said Raveling, who spent 11 seasons on the Palouse. "If I were the athletic director, I'd hire Stew Morrill at Utah State … He knows the area and has had enormous success as a head coach. I have great respect for him. His teams are always soundly coached, particularly at the offensive end.

"I wouldn't over-analyze things, I'd just hire him," Raveling said.

Morrill earned his early coaching stripes as an assistant for Mike Montgomery at Montana and then succeeded Montgomery there when he left for Stanford in 1987. From Montana, he moved to Colorado State in 1992.

He just finished his 11th season at Utah State, where his .730 winning percentage has made 20-win seasons and post-season play an annual rite.

Utah State is unequivocal in their praise of Morrill, saying he's "known for his deep-rooted values, consistency, hard work, dedication, honesty, integrity and concern for the welfare of his student-athletes."

As for Bone, Harshman is enthusiastic.

"He's a real student of the game and has proven himself in two very difficult situations (Seattle Pacific and Portland State)," said Harshman, who coached at WSU for 14 seasons. "He's proven he can recruit … When Lorenzo (Romar) came to Washington, I told him he should hire Ken Bone and Brad Jackson (the former Cougar player and long-time WWU head coach).

"Ken has no arrogance about him. He's down to earth and full of integrity," Harshman said. "He has a basketball mind and is a great teacher. He also is a great listener and learner ... when he was at Seattle Pacific he'd invited me to lunch every single year before the season started and we'd talk about basketball for hours. He invited me over to practice one week to teach his team the (full-court) press that John Wooden used so successfully."

Raveling and Harshman agree on one thing. The person WSU hires needs to have a deep appreciation for the unique beauty of Pullman. In addition, they said, the new coach needs to possess the ability to recruit and coach with equal commitment and excellence. And the new man needs to bring the same energy and excitement to the program that Tony Bennett brought to it.

Both can tell you just the right guy for the job.

Cougfan Top Stories