Cougars work on beating the zone

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Ken Bone discusses his team's issues against the zone and how much he expects to see it against the Huskies. He also reflects on the return home for Seattle native Reggie Moore, starting lineup changes, playing time for freshmen and much more.

It might be the ugliest four-letter word in the dictionary for Washington State basketball fans.

Zone.

In the Cougars' last two games against teams that used it as their primary defense -- Arizona State and UCLA -- they have lost by a combined 37 points.

But WSU coach Ken Bone said during his Tuesday news conference that he does not anticipate seeing Washington (12-7 overall, 3-5 conference) using a lot of that defense when the teams meet at 12:30 p.m. Saturday (Fox Sports Net) at Edmundson Pavilion.

THE HUSKIES PLAYED some zone last week in losses at UCLA and USC, but primarily use a man-to-man scheme. But that does not mean the Cougars (14-6, 4-4) are not preparing for the zone and other details during practice this week. While UW hosts Seattle University tonight, WSU does not play until Saturday.

"We're trying to clean a lot of things up," Bone said. "That's the beauty of a week when you're playing your travel partner."

When it comes to the zone, he said his team simply needs to make some 3-pointers. Bone noted that senior forward Nikola Koprivica and freshman guard Reggie Moore were able to do that against UCLA, but sophomores Abe Lodwick and Klay Thompson in addtion to freshman guard Xavier Thames did not. Those three combined to shoot 5 of 25 from the field as the Cougars connected on just 35.6 percent of their shots.

BONE SAID BETTER outside shooting will open up the offense, but he said his team also needs to be more proactive about getting the ball inside to post players.

UW ranks 89th among 334 full-fledged Division 1 members by allowing opponents to convert 32 percent of their 3-pointers. But Bone is just as concerned about his team's ability to get penetration and draw fouls.

"We need to move the ball and get open off of screens," Bone said. "We need to try and keep their defense moving better than we have as of late."

Moore already has shot 131 free throws this season, but Bone notes he will face some difficult defenders in junior Venoy Overton and sophomore Isaiah Thomas.

"They're quick, aggressive and good," he said.

BUT BONE SAID that caliber of competition will be no different for Moore, who regularly faces NBA players during offseason games in Seattle.

Bone also is not concerned about Moore playing in his hometown. He already did that once this season, scoring 12 points in a 72-70 overtime win Dec. 22 against Louisiana State at KeyArena.

"He played in front of a lot of friends and family that night," Bone said. "I'm sure it will be a special night for him."

WSU might need that from him as the Huskies have one of the biggest splits between home and road records in the Pac-10. UW is 0-4 during conference play on the road, but is 2-1 at Edmundson Pavilion.

"My concern is they're very, very good at home," Bone said.

HE SAW THAT the last three seasons as Portland State's coach when the Vikings lost each season in Seattle. Bone, who was an assistant under UW coach Lorenzo Romar from 2002-05, said the two remain friends, but they are "competitive" and want to beat each other.

The Cougars' preparation will be different with just one Pac-10 game this week. Bone said it is somewhat comparable to a bye during football season.

"Mentally and physically, it's good for us to have some time off," he said. "It's been a great team to coach. Our staff appreciates the attitude they've had."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Bone contemplated making as many as four changes in the starting lineup last week. Thompson was the only player who was not mentioned as a possibility to come off the bench. Bone said he anticipates sticking with the same starters, but did not guarantee it.

  • WSU piped in noise during practices to prepare for noise during an 86-69 loss Dec. 5 at Kansas State. But Bone said it was not effective during that game and will not do in preparation for UW.

  • Redshirt freshman James Watson backed up sophomore DeAngelo Casto at center earlier this season, but combined to play just three minutes last week. Most of those minutes went to sophomore Charlie Enquist, who combined to play 18 minutes at USC and UCLA.

    Bone said the change was the result of Enquist's practice performances in addition to the Cougars' 77-73 win Jan. 16 against Stanford. Enquist had four points, four rebounds and two blocks in 13 minutes against the Cardinal.

    "He really performed well," Bone said. "That's not to say James has done well. They give us something different."

  • Bone eschewed redshirt seasons for freshmen Steven Bjornstad, Anthony Brown and Brock Motum. The trio has seen limited playing time this season.

    "I see Brock Motum possibly playing a little bit more," Bone said. "I'm not sure the other two will get a whole lot of action."


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