Bone says Cougs will be better conditioned

PULLMAN -- For years, Washington State basketball players dreaded The Hill. A steep incline at Sunnyside Park on Pullman's north side, The Hill was the scene of a lung-searing series of "sprints" -- the quotation marks were mandatory for more than a few players -- required by Tony Bennett as part of preseason conditioning.

Ken Bone knows he pleased more than a few players when he announced he would open up WSU's offense, but his players might be even more excited about the elimination of The Hill.

"They haven't brought it up yet. They don't realize I know about it. They're trying to hide it," Bone joked.

Bone, who left Portland State to take over the Cougars after Bennett headed for Virginia last spring, said his reasoning for bringing a halt to The Hill runs is simple: "We're going to play our games on the court and we're going to condition on the court."

Don't be fooled into thinking Bone is taking it easy on his players compared to Bennett. In fact, Bone says he believes he has been more demanding than Bennett in the preseason.

"They understand they need to be in better shape," Bone said. "There's more conditioning going on this year than in prior years because we look to be a little bit better in transition, push the ball on offense." Bone said players returned to school in good shape "for the most part." The NCAA doesn't permit daily practices with full rosters until Oct. 16, but the Cougars have worked out and played "rat ball" since the start of fall semester.

"They have a summer plan given to them by the strength and conditioning coach (David Lang)," Bone said. "They're on that program when they're here in summer school, and then when they go back home, they're expected to stick with that program so they come back here in decent shape, ready to go."

Bone said heralded Australian forward Brock Motum has shown no effects of the calf strain that cut short his bid to make the Australian national team. However, Bone said Motum was no different than most freshmen when he began practicing on the first day of school Aug. 24.

"I think the freshmen are the ones that are always the ones a little behind," Bone said. "They don't understand the amount of conditioning that they really need to do to prepare themselves for college basketball.

"I don't think it matters who it is or what school or anything else. They just don't realize it until they finally step foot on campus and go through some of the conditioning drills."

Bone said sophomore forward DeAngelo Casto is recovering well from July arthroscopic knee surgery. Bone said Casto figures to be 100 percent in plenty of time for the Nov. 13 opener at home against Mississippi Valley State.

"He's been doing his therapy in the water and doing a great job," Bone said.

Bone is replacing the only coach in WSU history to guide Cougar basketball teams to national tournaments three consecutive years. Bennett had to settle for an NIT trip last year, whereas Bone guided Portland State to the NCAA tourney the past two years.

"There's no difference (in doing his job) from when I was at Portland State or Seattle Pacific or anywhere else," Bone said. "Get a staff and a basketball team, and we're getting ready for the season.

"Everything else is the exact same. Pac-10 or Little League -- to me, it's all the same. It's a higher level of competition, but I'm trying to do the same exact things that we did when I was at Seattle Pacific."


  • A ticket "presale" is underway for primo seats at the Cougars' Dec. 22 game at Seattle's Key Arena against LSU. Head to to order and type in the promotion code: CATFIGHT. The presale runs through Friday (Sept. 18).

  • Tickets are also available now for the Cougars' men's and women's doubleheader in the Tri-Cities on Dec. 19 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. The men will play Portland State, the women San Francisco. Tickets are available online at or via phone (800-Go-Cougs).

  • The Cougar Nation lost a hoops legend last month with the passing of Vince Hanson, who set the national scoring record when he poured in 592 points for the Cougs in the 1944-45 season. It remains the third-highest single-season output in WSU history. Hanson, 85 when he died, was the pride of Lincoln High in Tacoma. He earned All-Pacific Coast and All-America honors as a sophomore, when he led the Cougs to the conference title. His WSU career also included two varsity letters in baseball and two in track. A 1948 draft pick by the NBA's Baltimore Bullets (now Washington Wizards), he was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986 and into the Pac-10 Conference Hall of Honor in 2007.

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