Breaking down the scheduling in WSU hoops

NEW WSU BASKETBALL COACH Ken Bone faces a formidable challenge trying to guide a young Washington State team in 2009-10 to a national post-season tournament for the fourth straight year. And a challenging schedule could severely test a team with only one senior-to-be in Nikola Koprivica.

Washington State's complete schedule has not been released, but the Cougars will play at least 13 games against teams that played in the 2009 NCAA tournament.

That number would increase to 14 if Washington State draws Oklahoma at the 32nd annual Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.

The Sooners, who bowed to eventual champion North Carolina in the Elite Eight, lost national player of the year Blake Griffin when he was drafted first overall by the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.

Washington State, Oklahoma, Houston and San Diego are set to join host Alaska-Anchorage at the Shootout Nov. 25-28.

Buffalo is also under consideration, a tournament spokesman said Wednesday. For the first time, the tourney may be limited to six teams instead of eight because of competition from other tournaments.

WSU HAS A road game with Gonzaga, a Sweet 16 team last season. Two other NCAA tourney qualifiers, Portland State (Bone's former team) and LSU, play the Cougars in WSU "home" games over Christmas break. PSU comes to Kennewick on Dec. 19, and LSU plays in the fifth annual Cougar Hardwood Classic at Seattle's KeyArena on Dec. 22.

As usual, WSU plays home-and-home series with Pac-10 rivals (and 2009 NCAA tourney participants) Washington, UCLA, California, Arizona State and Arizona.

In addition, the Cougars may find themselves facing a 2010 NCAA tournament team when they visit Kansas State on Dec. 5 in the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Challenge.

The Wildcats return four starters off a 22-12 team that reached the second round of the NIT (the Cougars lost in the first round), and K-State's recruiting class is ranked in the top 20 nationally.

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