It's now official: Cougs' hoops season done

EVEN IF THE opportunity presented itself, the Washington State men's basketball team has ruled out playing in one of the lesser national post-season tournaments. "It was what Coach (Ken) Bone thought was best for the team," said a WSU spokesperson. Neither Bone nor players, who now are spring break, were made available for comment.

Two sources close to the team said Bone, following the team's Pac-10 tourney loss to Oregon, polled his players to gauge their interest in playing in the College Basketball Invitational or College Tournament and the response was solidly against, though by no means unanimous.

A WSU spokesperson could not confirm what if any level input there was from players, but said regardless, "It was coach Bone's final decision."

The Cougars started the season well but wound up dropping 12 of their final 16 games to finish 16-15. Despite the sluggish finish, they were considered a possible candidate for the CBI in particular.

Oregon State won the CBI last year despite entering the tourney with a 13-17 record.

The Cougars, who finished last in the Pac-10 this season with a 6-12 conference record, lost 82-80 to Oregon in the first round of the Pac-10 Championships on Wednesday. After the game, Bone said the team would continue practicing in case a tournament invitation was forthcoming.

Washington State, playing a weak nonconference schedule in Bone's first season as coach, started the season 6-0 and finished pre-conference play at 10-2. The Cougars earned votes in Top 25 polls early in the season, but the young team played inconsistently and struggled in league play despite the fact that the Pac-10 is widely considered to be relatively weak this year.

Senior forward Nikola Koprivica, a starter in the second half of the season, was the only upperclassman on the team. Bone recently said he hopes and expects everyone else to return, but there has been speculation that one or more little-used reserves might transfer.

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