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October 17, 2013

Expect aggressive, uptempo defense, says Bone



SAN FRANCISCO | Washington State head coach Ken Bone and junior guard DaVonte Lacy represented the Cougars on Thursday morning for the 2013 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day at the Pac-12 Networks studio's in San Francisco, Calif. and fielded a number of questions for the upcoming season.

Picked by the media to finish last in the Pac-12, the Cougars, who finished 13-19 (4-14 Pac-12) last season, enter Bone's fifth year at the helm with a bevy of youth mixed in with a handful of experienced players. Lacy and Bone fielded questions from the media contingent, with questions ranging from the new defensive philosophy, the guard rotation and the Pac-12 as a whole, which you can find transcribed below:

Opening statement:

Bone: "Right now as a coach, I'm extremely excited about this year's team. We have group of guy's who are back this year and we have a couple of guys that were in our program last year but did not play: Jordan Railey and Que Johnson. It's nice to get them back out on the court. And then we have some young freshmen joining us. So I like the mix of guys. We've had a good summer and a good fall and I love the work ethic, the attitude and the coachability that these guys bring.

"Another special ingredient we have is a new coach. We're going to miss Ben Johnson, who moved back to Australia, but we added Rob Jenson, who spent a lot of time at Boise State as an assistant coach and then a head coach and he's had a couple stops along the way. He's brought a new ingredient to our program and an aggressive-style, up-tempo defense, which I think our players are excited about."

You mentioned you're moving to an aggressive-attacking defense but they've mentioned a number of rule changes that could limit how aggressive a defense could be. Is that something you're going to have to adjust to?

Bone: "I think we will, but what I'm talking about is the last few years we've played fairly passive. Obviously that's a defense that we subscribed to, but I don't think what we are trying to do now will be a lot different than what other teams that are trying to do - to get out and be aggressive."

"So there's going to be an adjustment across the board in the NCAA in regards to how to guard the ball, especially. When I talk about aggressiveness, I talk about denial defense, on the ball pressure and hopefully not using our hands a whole lot and fouling."

The media has picked you guys to finish last this year. How do you respond to that?

Lacy: "I think everyone is entitled to their opinion. It's just something else that we have to listen to but we don't have to subscribe to it. We can run with it and use that as a stepping stool and a chip on our shoulder. It doesn't really affect me at all."

How much better do you feel the league is this year or better than a few years ago?

Bone: "Maybe we deserved to take a little bit of a beating a few years ago but those years are gone and definitely behind us. Last year with five teams getting into the NCAA tournament and close to six - two of those teams in Arizona and Oregon making it to the Sweet 16 - I would be surprised if we don't have more teams in the NCAA tournament this season like six or seven. I also wouldn't be surprised at all if some teams went further than the Sweet 16. I think this league is really good and is getting better and better."

"For one thing there's a been a number of coaches that have been in place. Obviously UCLA and USC have had a change but I think when coaches have been in a program a number of years, there's some stability there. I think that's contributed to the success of a lot of the programs. And then there are a lot of new kids coming into the league that are really good."

What will WSU present on the perimeter and in their guard play?

Bone: "We have DaVonte who's a good player and then we have Royce Woolridge who had to play some point guard last season which he'd never played that position in his life. He had that position for a while and then we gave it to Mike Ladd, who was a senior last season. Then at the end of the year, when Mike got injured, we put Royce back there and he did a pretty good job. We have those two guys back, who have a lot of experience, along with DKD, a 6-foot-6, athletic kid who can really shoot the ball.

"We've added Ike Iroegbu, who is out of Oak Hill Academy, originally from Sacramento, 6-foot, 6-foot-1, extremely athletic and strong. He's going to be a really good player in this league. He's going to be really good.

"And then Que Johnson, who came to us last year, was not eligible to play in the games, but was on campus and going to school. Now, fortunately, he was just in his first practice two days ago because of a stress facture. So he's had his ups and downs, unfortunately, with some injuries - last summer it was his knees and most recently, like I said, a stress fracture. But he was back out there and I think DaVonte would attest to it that he was thrown out there and was pretty good immediately. I really like that group of five guards."

Who are the new players in the league that you expect will have an impact?

Bone: "Aaron Gordon will do pretty well. There's so many guys, I don't want to leave anyone out. There's a lot of good freshman coming into the conference."

The Pac-12, guard wise, is pretty heavy this year. Who are some guards in the league you expect to see good things from this year?

Lacy: "Obviously all the people that are here. Roberto Nelson at Oregon State, Nick Johnson at Arizona, Jahii [Carson] at Arizona state, C.J. [Wilcox] at Washington and Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado). The list can go on and on. I think we're a guard-oriented conference. I think we're staying strong in that mold and developing some pretty NBA ready guards coming out."

You guys were in most games late last but struggled to finish. Who are you looking towards to be a closer next year?

Bone: "We're hoping - I'm hoping - that we have better poise down the stretch. Again, It was a difficult situation. We had a point guard for three years [Reggie Moore] that I think was going into his senior year and looking like he was going to have a good senior season. And with his departure, we were not prepared to just throw some other guys out there. Now, during the course of the year, you're hoping that improves and I think our guys did improve. But bottom line is, we didn't win some close games and a lot of that is on me as a head coach. Hopefully I'm a better coach this year than last year."

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MORE: Ken Bone and Lacy sat down this afternoon for a second one-on-one interview on the Pac-12 Networks set to talk more Washington State basketball, the upcoming season and answered questions about the point guard position.

How different will this offense look in 2014 without Motum?


Bone: "We'll be running a lot more stuff where we'll depend on the team sharing the ball like crazy. There's no stat for it, but we stat everyday who is setting the best screen to get guys shots. We've got some really disciplined guys that play in the front court that are determined to set great screens.

"I think Davonte can attest to that and he's getting good shots in practice - and so are others guys - because guys are setting good screens. We'll be playing together as a unit, but we won't have that one prolific scorer."

There should be a lot more shooting to go around for guys like you [Lacy] without Brock Motum on the floor. Are you excited for that?

Lacy: "Obviously we're going to miss Brock. He was a great scorer and all, but he did take shots. I'm not going to say those shots or up for grabs, but someone has to take them. I feel between me, Royce, Dexter, all those guys returning; Que coming in and even Ike, we all have to opportunity to take more shots.  I think we're going to be ready to knock down those shots and it's going to be a fun year."

Alluding to his up-and-down season a year ago, how will Lacy find more consistency this season?

Lacy: "That's one of the key parts of my offseason. A big part of that is being healthy and getting my body in shape because some of those nights my back wasn't feeling right or my knee wasn't feeling all the way there yet. It was hard for me but I never said anything because I shouldn't be in that position.  I feel this year I got my body right and I'm ready to be healthy for the entire season."

Part of the problem last year was no traditional point guard. How are you going to address that this year?

Bone: "Well fortunately Royce is back from last year and he's had some experience running the point position and I think so far this season - and it's just been practice - he just seems so much more poised.  The shot clock is getting down there and he's getting a ton of reps every day by playing in practice and letting that shot clock get down and obviously working on game situations.  

"I'm really impressed so far in what he's been able to do because he's not a true point guard but he's really starting to understand the game a little bit better from that point of view.  I think Coach [Curtis] Allen, one of our assistant coaches who works with Royce closely, watches a lot of video, and they discuss things almost daily.  I think Royce is ready to go."

You guys were right there in a lot of ball games only to fall short at the end. How do you turn those games into wins this year?

Lacy: "Like Coach said about Royce, we just being poised.  I think As a unit we need to be poised coming down the stretch. I think we're putting ourselves in position in practice to practice those kinds of things to get better at it.  I feel like as a unit we need to be more composed and poised down the stretch to close and win those close games.

Where's the toughest place to play in the conference?

Lacy: "When Beasley is rocking, there's no place like it. But on the road, I'd have to say the atmosphere in Arizona is nice. They have 15 thousand every game. Also, Colorado is not as big, but they say that the mile high has an effect, I'm not saying it's not or it is, but some people think about it."


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