Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/7/14
First, let it be said that Ken Bone, the Washington State basketball coach, is a man of integrity, somebody who always represents his institution well. But as the season winds down at WSU, this is also inescapable: The team he coaches is talent-shy and in danger of a third last-place finish in the Pac-12 in his five years. The Cougars’ game at Oregon on Sunday night was a bit of microcosm in a 9-18 season. A big underdog, the Cougars played with passion through the first half, slowing the pace, frustrating the Ducks and taking a seven-point lead. Announcers on the Pac-12 Networks mentioned how cohesive and purposeful they looked. And on the inbounds play to start the second half, they turned it over, gave up a transition basket in the first three seconds and eventually lost by 14, shooting 32.6 percent and committing 17 turnovers. It’s what they do. So Bone’s future at WSU is hanging by a thread, even as he has two years left on a seven-year deal that would pay him $1.7 million if he is fired. Entering a Friday night game at Washington, Bone is 28-59 in conference games at WSU. If there’s anything his athletic director, Bill Moos, hates as much as not winning, it’s a lack of buzz, and there’s zero for Cougars men’s basketball. WSU is averaging 2,825 fans a game, a figure no doubt made worse by the Pac-12’s all-over-the-map schedule. Still, that’s a drop of 61.4 percent from Bone’s first year, when the Cougars averaged 7,323 immediately after Tony Bennett’s golden run of two NCAA-tournament trips and one to the NIT. In an extended talk Saturday with Bone, I asked him if he’d ever experienced a professional crisis. Until now, he hasn’t. “That’s why I’ve enjoyed (his career) immensely,” he said. “And I’m enjoying this season — the group of guys we’re working with. It’s hard to lose, and everything that comes along with losing, but I know deep down, I’m comfortable. I’ve got a peace of mind about the situation. “I know we’ve not taken short cuts. We’ve done it the right way, we’ve embraced the kids, we haven’t turned our back on them or blamed them. I just feel we’re doing it the right way and hopefully things will work out.” In April 2009, when Bennett left abruptly for Virginia, I was one who lobbied for Bone’s hire. He was a rank-and-file coach with deep Seattle roots who had a history of success at Seattle Pacific and Portland State, sandwiched around time with Lorenzo Romar at Washington. The Cougars chose him over Stew Morrill, the veteran Utah State coach, partly because they saw Bone as more contemporary. I believed Bone, now 55, would succeed with his deep connections on the west side of the Cascades if (something like Morrill) he could project and evaluate players for his system and preserve the Bennett legacy of making Pullman a place no visiting team wanted to come. Just a sense here, but from the start, Bone appeared to tilt his staff hires more toward coaches than recruiters. His predecessor has been dinged in some quarters for spotty recruiting aside from the early Kyle Weaver-Derrick Low breakthrough class for his father Dick, but Tony Bennett had signed Brock Motum and Xavier Thames before he departed (Bone had to “re-recruit“ them to keep them on board). I’d submit those two constitute a better class than anything Bone has assembled. You know the history: In short order, Bone signed Rainier Beach’s Reggie Moore, like Thames a point guard. Bone has said Moore proceeded to beat out Thames, who then checked out competitively, according to Bone. Thames leaves, goes on to an all-star career at San Diego State, Moore has his moments over two seasons for WSU, gets busted for marijuana in 2011 and eventually is booted from the team before last season. This year, JC transfer point guard Danny Lawhorn was going to get the keys to the car, but after he was suspended indefinitely, he left before the season. So for two years, WSU has essentially tried to function without a point guard. At times, it’s unwatchable. Not that there has been much to pass to inside; recruiting “bigs“ has also been a bugaboo. Never mind guys who average 16 a game on the low block, WSU has had a struggle finding the sturdy or springy 6-foot-8 player who can defend and rebound.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Alabama’s opening week starting quarterback is transferring

Report: Cubs sign Theo Epstein to five-year extension

Marlins players surrounded Jose Fernandez’s hearse during its procession

Jason Garrett: Dez Bryant has hairline fracture in knee

Newspaper runs insensitive headline following Mets win

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Curt Schilling plans to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018

WATCH: Tebow homers on first pitch he sees in first game

Report: Garoppolo still dealing with shoulder pain, mobility

J.J. Watt placed on IR, reportedly expected to miss rest of 2016

Nationals GM: Strasburg ‘unlikely to pitch in NLDS’

Nebraska regent wants players kicked off team for kneeling during anthem

WNBA Semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

2016 Ryder Cup preview: Five things to watch this weekend

Ryan Kesler disappointed with lack of excitement at World Cup

Lesser known MMA fighters who could be ready for the WWE

Box Score: 9/28 - Bosh, FIFA, Ali and Mangenius

Geno Smith deletes Instagram post possibly critical of Jets

Most glaring flaw for each MLB playoff contender

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WNBA Semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

To save his legacy Chris Bosh must first protect his health

What the NBA (and world) looked like before Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan

A fond farewell to Vin Scully

So where will the ACC football championship be played?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker