By Ricky Clark
One thing that has been certain over the course of Washington State’s season — Ken Bone’s job has been on the line and he’s really done nothing to help move his future in the right direction.
On Wednesday, the Cougars lost 74-63 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament to Stanford.
In the post-game, Bone naturally was asked if he had a job next year.
“I sure hope so, but I don’t make that call,” Bone said. “I have not been told a thing about my future at Washington State.”
This season has been horrid for the Cougars. Washington State went 10-20 and finished 3-15 in the Pac-12.
What’s more disturbing than the lack of wins is that the talent isn’t as bad as its record has shown. But even if it is, that’s on Bone, too, since he recruited everybody on the roster.
Junior Devonte Lacy has been an absolute beast for this team over the season. The 6-foot-4 junior from Tacoma, Wash. has averaged 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and has a .428 field goal percentage. Many thought Lacy was one of the biggest omissions when it came to the picking of the all Pac-12 all-conference teams.
That’s what happens to players from 3-15 teams.
But he isn’t the first player on a Ken Bone-coached Washington State team that had major potential but never really got a chance to lead a successful team: Brock Motum, Reggie Moore, Klay Thompson and current San Diego State standout Xavier Thames all came before.
If the Cougars have all this talent, why can’t they win?
At some point, the blame falls to the coaching staff. Something that they are — or aren’t — doing isn’t right. Bone has gone 80-85 at Wazzu and that record is a bit skewed by the 2010-11 season, and even that resulted only in a berth in the NIT.
Every other year during Bone’s tenure, the highest place is a tie for 8th — and that was when the Pac-12 was still the Pac-10.
In the new-money Pac-12, the Cougars have become bottom dwellers and the risk of not moving on from Bone is this: another year of falling behind in a league where they are already at a financial and geographical disadvantage.
The league, as it is, is plenty good. Arizona and coach Sean Miller are in their rightful place at the top of the heap while UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Cal, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are under steady — if not necessarily spectacular — leadership. USC, Stanford, Oregon State are either in need of change or awaiting a verdict on current leadership.
Things change and the whole picture could — and probably will — be very different the next time all these teams meet up in Las Vegas. But one thing’s for certain: if Washington State has an interest in changing its place in the pecking, something has to change.