COUGAR HOOPS: Packing it up?

THE COUGAR PLAYERS had two questions for Ken Bone when he met with them for the first time on Tuesday morning. First, are these 6 a.m. lifting workouts going to continue and second, will the Cougars continue to play the pack defense that has been a staple at Washington State since Dick and Tony Bennett arrived in Pullman six years ago.

The pack defense, the man-to-man system developed by Dick Bennett that emphasizes pressure on the ball in the half court with teammates providing help whenever needed and at all times, will not be the base defense the Cougars run under Bone.

"I think the pack defense is an outstanding defense and the Bennetts have had a lot of success running the pack defense...But we will extend a little bit more so than playing the pack," said Bone.

The Cougs led the nation in scoring defense last season (55.4).

But they were also 17-16 and lost in the first round of the NIT.

Bone has incorporated bits and pieces from others into his offensive and defensive philosophies over his coaching career -- his offense has it's roots in Dick Bennett's mover-blocker system although it provides considerably more freedom.

So there may be some pieces of the pack that remain.

But Cougar fans will also see more zone next season under Bone.

"There's a lot to be said for the principles that they taught, how good a job they did in holding people down from being able to score," said Bone. "It's an important part of the game."

As for the crack of dawn offseason lifting sessions, the Cougs will, to the relief of the players, be going back to an afternoon schedule.

Tyler Geving has been mentioned as one of "a couple" Portland State assistant Bone is looking at bringing on at Washington State. The other is Curtis Allen, said Bone. Notably, Bone said he has not yet been in contact with assistant candidates beyond Washington State and PSU. "I'm taking it step by step and really trying to be loyal to the guys that I worked with (at PSU) and then also to the guys who were left behind. And I'm just ecstatic at having Ben (Johnson) stay on with us," said Bone.

Scoring defense and W-L records at Wazzu the past six seasons:
59.7 - in 2003-04, No. 12 in nation, 13-16 record
56.9 - in 2004-05, No. 6 in nation, 12-16 record
57.7 - in 2005-06, No. 6 in the nation, 11-17 record
59.5 - in 2006-07, No. 17 in the nation, 26-8 record
56.4 - in 2007-08, No. 3 in the nation, 26-9 record
55.4 - in 2008-09, No. 1 in the nation, 17-16 record

Washington State has led the Pac-10 in scoring defense six seasons straight.

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