'B-plus' Cougars take look ahead

WSU Basketball: After flaming out in New York, Cougars reflect on season, contemplate future

April 3, 2011 

The Washington State Cougars flunked their final exam, but coach Ken Bone said his team deserves a good grade for the 2010-11 basketball season.

“I would say B-plus, A-minus,” Bone said Friday.

“A lot of thoughts. One, we won 22 game ballgames, and that’s not easy to do. We won some huge games, beat some really good teams and made it to New York in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament), so I think our guys really accomplished a lot of good things.”

The senior-less Cougars, who finished sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference with a 9-9 record, wound up 22-13 overall after getting blown out by Wichita State on Tuesday in the NIT semifinals.

Bone acknowledged the Cougars “had our issues” on and off the court. WSU experienced a handful of particularly painful losses – “Like most anybody does” – by close margins or due to particularly poor play for significant portions of games.

Also, there were the in-season marijuana busts of starters Reggie Moore, Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto.

Bone and the WSU athletic department drew criticism in some corners for suspending Moore and Thompson for only one game. Casto was initially handed an “indefinite” suspension, but it was rescinded 24 hours later, shortly before an NIT quarterfinals win over Northwestern.

Athletic department representatives have been working on new disciplinary policies.

“There’ll be some changes made,” Bone promised.

The basketball team had 12 players on scholarship this season. That’s one less than the NCAA Division I limit, but the Cougars have three scholarship recruits signed or committed, including all-state guard Davonte Lacy out of Curtis High School.

In addition, Bone said that Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd (a junior wing who sat out a mandatory redshirt season this year) will go on scholarship, as had been expected.

“He’s done a great job,” Bone said.

Leading scorer Thompson and leading rebounder Casto continue to look at the possibility of bypassing their senior seasons to turn pro. That would still leave the Cougars one above the scholarship limit, and Bone said the Cougars still hope to sign a big man.

Bone said he expects to meet individually with all WSU players “within the next two weeks.” College athletic scholarships are awarded on a year-by-year basis, and Bone said the scholarship status of some players has yet to be determined.

Those players include reserve post players Charlie Enquist (who has gone on and off scholarship in the past) and Steven Bjornstad (continuing knee problems) and walk-on swingman Will DiIorio. The latter, a Bainbridge High graduate, occasionally saw key minutes as a freshman.

Bone said the troublesome wrist of Moore and knee of second-leading scorer Faisal Aden will be examined shortly to determine if either player requires surgery.

The only player definitely leaving the Cougars is redshirt junior Ben Loewen, a rarely used walk-on guard who wants to focus on gaining his economics degree. Dexter Kernich-Drew, a lean, athletic wing from Australia, is expected to fill a roster spot after redshirting as a freshman this season.

“He showed a great deal of determination,” Bone said. “He was quite often the first guy at practice and almost always the last guy to leave.”

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