Ken Bone runs program to be proud of at Washington State
Washington State basketball has had transgressions, but it's not like the program is in chaos as it prepares for Wichita State in the NIT semifinals Tuesday night.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Washington State vs. Wichita State, 4 p.m., ESPN2
NEW YORK — Unfairly, this team has become a punch line, a chance for the older generation to trot out every drug-related monologue comedian George Carlin used in the 1970s.
Recently, I've read about Washington State basketball and thought I was reading a review from a Ken Kesey novel. Were these the Cougars or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? Was this Pullman or Woodstock?
Three minor citations for marijuana possession issued by Pullman police to three different starters have made the Cougars look, from a distance, like some out-of-control, drug-addled basketball program.
That's so far from the reality.
Washington State coach Ken Bone has been excoriated as if he were running a program like Dana Kirk's old Memphis State teams, or Tim Floyd's at USC or Tennessee under Bruce Pearl.
First, point guard Reggie Moore was cited for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Leading scorer Klay Thompson was stopped in his driveway and cited on a marijuana change.
Then last week, Pullman police entered the apartment of post player DeAngelo Casto and cited him for possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Bone suspended Moore and Thompson for one game each. He suspended Casto for last week's NIT game against Northwestern, but after further investigation, the suspension was lifted and Casto played.
I've known Bone for almost 20 years. I've watched him coach at Seattle Pacific and Portland State. I've been to his practices. I've had lunches with him where we moved around salt and pepper shakers simulating basketball plays.
There isn't a better guy, a more moral person, coaching in college basketball. Oh, and by the way, he also happens to be good at his job.
Let's remember that the citations are microscopic offenses on the grand scale of student-athlete-related crimes. Sure, the players were in the wrong, but the citations smack of harassment.
It's as if the Pullman Police Department is reacting to every tip from every Tom, Dick and Tattletale that has a grudge against a player.
Bone, whose team plays Wichita State on Tuesday in a semifinal game of the NIT, doesn't cheat. He doesn't recruit bad kids. And, as he has shown this season, he addresses problems quickly and efficiently.
"I think he's a good coach. A very understanding person," All-American Thompson said Monday sitting in a restaurant at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. "And I think the problems we've had as a team should not ever be a reflection on him. Those decisions were personal decisions we made as players.
"They were really poor choices. We made mistakes, but I think he's getting an unfair deal about it. People are putting the blame too much on him when they really shouldn't. They are our choices and our issues and our mistakes."
So what's going on in Pullman?
"I mean, a couple of us made mistakes," Thompson said, "but I think Casto had to go through an unfortunate situation. Obviously his rights were violated. He was hounded, I think, and profiled. And I think the country should know that this kid is not a bad kid at all.
"Me and Reggie, we made mistakes. We learned from them. Our teammates had our backs. Our community did. But with DeAngelo's situation, I think that was blown way out of proportion. I think he was really, really violated in the way he was treated."
Bone who coached and won at Seattle Pacific for 12 years before going to Portland State and taking the Vikings to back-to-back NCAA tournaments, has steered this team through all of its turmoil. He has been steadfast in the face of the harassment.
"We have a solid foundation of quality kids who are doing things the right way," Bone said. "Unfortunately, their names aren't in the paper for doing those things. We know as a team, inside the locker room, on the practice court, in timeouts, that we have good leadership. And I'm proud of those guys for being able to hold things together through some difficult times."
This isn't a band of outlaws that needs to be targeted by local police. Quite the contrary. Bone runs the kind of program in which parents should want their kids taking part.
"We know what's going on in our program," said junior guard Marcus Capers, who is on track to earn a communications degree. "And I feel like Coach Bone has our backs and he wouldn't keep kids in a program if we were doing a lot of stuff the wrong way.
"We know there's going to be bumps in the road, but like when the deal happened with DeAngelo, we all stood and supported our wounded brother. We've stood together. And when we get on the court we don't let any of this distract us. We can't control what people are saying about us. But when we're on the court, that's the one thing we can try to control."
So enough with the snide one-liners. Ken Bone is building his program the right way.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
email@example.com | 206-464-2176
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
(The Associated Press) New GM cars to get free maintenance plan General Motors, aiming to increase customer loyalty, recently announced that it will e...
Post a comment
Post a comment