football

Bone updates Ladds status, reflects on team

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PULLMAN -- Ken Bone held his
weekly teleconference on Tuesday afternoon and once again the
discussion was headlined by the status of senior guard Mike
Ladd. 
Though Ladd, who has been sidelined with a left knee injury for the
past five games, was not given a healthy prognosis for this weeks'
regular season conference finales he was able to participate in
practice to some degree.
"He's coming along," Bone said of Ladd's progress.  "He was on the
floor yesterday getting more shots up than usual.
Obviously somewhat discouraged to announce the lack of serious
improvement in his status for this weeks' games, Bone noted that Ladd
was unable to take part in practice drills and is doubtful
for both games this week.  If he is unable to go, Ladd will miss
his final two games in Pullman -- a trend that has become all too
familiar for the Cougars' tri-captain.
There is no doubt about it that Ladd, who is averaging 11.4 points and
5.9 rebounds per game this season, has had an unbecoming stint at
Washington State.
Ladd's career has been laden with injuries and
filled with hypothetical questions about what could have been for a player
that was expected to be a prominent piece in turning around the program
after his transfer from Fresno State.
"Unfortunate," Bone said in one word when characterizing Ladd's career
on the Palouse.  "Here's a young man that transferred from Fresno
State, wanted the opportunity to play here in the Pac-12 and be a
Coug.  He paid his own way his first year as a walk-on and then
he's just had some unfortunate luck.
"With the thumb last year he wasn't really able to show what he was
capable of doing and I think he's one of the most improved players in
the conference.  What he was able to do on the defensive end, what
he's able to do rebounding wise, running the offense, scoring points,
yet at the same time running the point guard position, which he has
never done in his life, it's pretty impressive."
Despite the loss of Ladd and currently riding a nine-game losing
streak, the Cougars (11-18, 2-14 Pac-12) and Bone, in particular, are
not making any excuses.  The Washington State head man even went
as far as to say that this team is one of his favorite he has ever
coached and it's a testament to the team they are off and on the hardwood while sustaining an positive vibes in the locker room despite negative results outside of it.
"It's one of the most favorite team's I have ever coached," Bone
said.  "The reason that is, is because there is no
maintence.  There attitudes and their efforts, especially with
what we've been through, it's been great.
The wins are not falling in the Cougars' favor this season and that's
readily evident in the Pac-12 standings -- Washington State finds
themselves in sole possession of last place -- however Bone
acknowledged that despite the struggles on the court, their eagerness
to grow and learn has been a pleasant surprise.
"When you get into this business you need to win games because we know
the alternative," Bone said.  "But also when you get into the
business, for the most part, you want to work with guys and try to
develop them as players and develop your teams as good teams.
"These guys want you to coach them, that's not always the case. 
It's really been a fun year in that sense."
The Cougars look to end their regular season conference slate -- and
their losing streak -- on a positive note in a matchup against No. 23
UCLA on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (TV, Pac-12 Networks) followed by a
Saturday tilt against USC.
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