Bone gives wide-ranging view of hoops program

IN A WIDE-RANGING teleconference Wednesday, WSU basketball coach Ken Bone talked about the big minutes logged by DeAngelo Casto, Reggie Moore and Klay Thompson against Eastern Washington, and he looked ahead at IPFW, the Great Alaska Shootout and the Cougars' scholarship breakdown.

It almost felt like the Bennett era again.

At least in terms of the distribution of minutes.

Three WSU players -- DeAngelo Casto (31), Reggie Moore (36) and Klay Thompson (37) -- played more than 30 minutes each in Monday's 67-61 nonconference win against Eastern Washington at Beasley Coliseum. No one on the team exceeded that number during Friday's 94-66 season-opening victory against Mississippi Valley State.

Coach Ken Bone traditionally has distributed minutes more evenly throughout his team during his previous tenures at Portland State and Seattle Pacific, but he said it always is based on situations.

"I think certain games, your better players have to play more minutes," he said during his Wednesday news conference. "It would've been great to play them 25 minutes. We felt we needed them in the game most of the time to be successful."

AUSTRALIAN BROCK MOTUM, a 6-foot-9 forward regarded by some as the school's top signing in the 2009, did not play against the Eagles. Bone said that will change.

"We felt like Nik (Koprivica) and Abe (Lodwick) were doing a solid job at the position," he said. "I don't feel Brock is used to playing at the speed Eastern Washington was playing at."

The Cougars (2-0) play their final November home game at 7 p.m. Thursday against IPFW (1-1).

"They're very solid," Bone said. "It's very typical Indiana basketball."

He has said the Mastodons rebound, set screens and pass well. Through two games -- a 75-46 loss at Wisconsin and a 86-57 win against Madonna -- senior forward Deilvez Yearby (20) and sophomore guard Jeremy Mixon (15.5) average more than 10 points per game.

AFTER THAT GAME, WSU plays in the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. The Cougars face Alaska Anchorage on Wednesday and then they have another game two days later against Nicholls State. Winning those games could put WSU into a Nov. 28 championship against Oklahoma.

"I'm not sure they even know Oklahoma is in the tournament," Bone said, jokingly.

At least Bone hopes his team is not looking that far ahead.

"I think no matter who we play right now is a tough game," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's Eastern Washington, UCLA, Gonzaga or IPFW, it's a challenge."

THE SOONERS ARE regarded by some national analysts as the only marquee team in the tournament. The Great Alaska Shootout has experienced some financial issues in recent years that has led some to speculate about its future viability.

"It used to be one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country," Bone said. "It's dropped a level, but Alaska does a phenomenal job of putting it on. It doesn't get the exposure that some of the other tournaments get."

He said he will be joined by his father and brother-in-law for Thanksgiving. Bone, who took his PSU team to the tournament last year, said the players will eat dinner with host families.

"They had a lot of stories later that day," he said. "I think it's a good thing to do to give back to the Anchorage community and also our kids."

ON THE COURT, Bone continues to transition his team from more of a half-court system under former coach Tony Bennett to an uptempo offense. But he said that again will be determined by game situations.

"I think the other night, we took some rushed shots," he said. "We came down and it was one pass or two passes. I asked the guys to slow the pace down and move the ball a little bit. I felt the flow was better for Eastern than us. If it's not working we need to slow it down."

Bone said described Tuesday's practice as "pretty slow."

"I was a little disappointed that we didn't come out with more intensity," he said. "I think the guys were physically and mentally fatigued after Eastern Washington."

BONE ALSO IS concerned about his team's lack of strength. He said watching other teams on TV, such as Arizona State and Texas Christian, makes it even more apparent.

"I think right now we lack the strength I wish we had," he said. "We have a great strength and conditioning coach and we'll get there."

But his team does feature some attributes that impress Bone. The Cougars only turned the ball over seven times against EWU, including just one by Moore.

"I was surprised with how few turnovers we had," he said. "They weren't sitting back in a zone. They pressured us and denied us."

TWELVE OF WSU'S 13 scholarship athletes are freshmen or sophomores. Bone said the result is a lack of continuity at times, particularly in the passing game where sometimes athletes do not anticipate a pass from each other.

"I just walked out of my office thinking about that for a few minutes," he said. "I'm hoping in time we get a better feel for each other. I think that's hurting us right now."

Former WSU coach Dick Bennett liked bigger recruiting classes and that trend followed under his son. But the Cougars do not have a junior and have no scholarships available now for the 2011 Class. Bone would like to see a more even distribution in the program in the future.

"It's nice if you can balance it out," he said. "It will get balanced out in the next few years, I think."

  • The Cougars converted just 20 of 32 (62.5 percent) of their free throws against EWU. Thompson missed more free throws (five) in that game than he did during the entire 2008-09 season (three).

    "That was not a very good percentage," Bone said. "It's a concern if it remains at 62 percent."

  • Redshirt freshman forward James Watson saw his first playing time against EWU. The 6-foot-7 Oklahoma native had three rebounds in four minutes.

    "James Watson is extremely quick," Bone said. "He can really present some problems on the defensive end. We tried to go with some quicker players.

    Watson previously had been limited because of concussion issues. Bone earlier said that Watson had missed a huge amount of practices since his arrival due to injury.

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