It’s your Bone to pick, Cougs
As former Washington State and current Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett hangs onto Joe Lunardi’s every word, trying to determine the Cavaliers first opponent in the NCAA tournament, the Cougars failed to finish .500 with a 14-15 record (7-11 in the Pac-12) under third-year coach Ken Bone and will be ignoring the NCAA tournament selection show on Sunday.
They likely know not to wait for an invitation from the College Invitation Tournament (CIT) or the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), ones that will never come anyway.
The 2010-11 Cougar season that produced 22 wins and an NIT semifinals appearance seems like an aberration as this team struggled to find consistency this season with the departure of guard / forward Klay Thompson to the Golden State Warriors.
After opening the season 9-5 against Division I teams, the Cougars went into a free fall, going 6-11 in their last 17, good enough for ninth in the conference.
There is reason to have a positive outlook with talent returning for the 2012-13 season. The Cougars can grow as they have three of their four leading scorers from this season returning, including junior Brock Motum (18.1 ppg), but the Washington State faithful must decide if Bone has the ability to catapult the Cougars to the top of the conference immediately.
In his three seasons, Bone has gone 53-43 overall but only 22-32 in conference play.
Bone has the unfortunate problem of recruiting in arguably the toughest place to recruit in the Pac-12. All of us must reserve the right to fairly assess Bone’s Pac-12 recruiting stint until he gets through five years, allowing for redshirt, transfers, etc. To his detriment, Bone lacks Bennett’s charisma and pedigree, his look and his swagger. Therefore, the Cougar faithful must temper expectations of what their team should accomplish on a consistent basis, because this squad is more dependent on developing talent than they ever were under Bennett, because of Bone’s inability to get more refined players to Pullman.
Since Bennett’s departure to Charlottesville, the basketball program has reached its first crossroads. At no time in recent memory has the Pac-12 basketball hierarchy (nee Pac-10) been more vulnerable to a mutiny.
This is the time that Washington State must stake its claim as a basketball power in the conference for years to come, because the program will not get a better scenario to do it.
The Cougars must seize what is in front of them, or Washington State will be forced to consider its moderate success from 2007-2011 an oasis in a vast desert of past and future Pac-12 futility.
If the Washington State faithful chooses to place its faith elsewhere, it is not an indictment on Bone’s coaching career.
The coach went 77-49 in his prior stop at Portland State, taking the Vikings to two NCAA titles in four years, accomplishments surely deserving of other Division I jobs.
WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos and the Cougars’ have a bone to pick.
The question will be, is it Coach Ken’s?