Ken Bone

Washington State head coach Ken Bone to return for fifth season

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With job openings at both UCLA and USC, the questions regarding the job status of Washington State head coach Ken Bone slipped into the background.

Those questions were answered on Thursday, as Bone announced that he will return to Pullman for a fifth season.

Bone met with athletic director Bill Moos earlier this week, discussing the direction of the program after the Cougars went 13-19 and won just four Pac-12 games. The 2012-13 season was Bone’s first losing campaign on the Palouse.

“There’s no doubt we need to win more basketball games,” Bone said. “I don’t think the players or myself or anyone in Cougar Nation is excited about the number of wins we had.”

Bone said he received no specific goals from Moos.

“He didn’t say ‘you have to make the NCAA tournament or win X amount of games,'” Bone said. “We’ve just got to get better.”

Washington State began its season with a preseason trip to Australia, which was as much a gift to its three players from the country (most notably Brock Motum) as it was to prepare for the 2012-13 campaign. But before the season began senior point guard Reggie Moore was dismissed from the program, leaving the Cougars without a point guard.

DaVonte Lacy, Royce Woolridge and Mike Ladd all saw time as the team’s primary ball-handler, and offensively the Cougars shot 41.2% from the field in Pac-12 games (last in the conference). Washington State was even worse on the defensive end, where they ranked dead last in the conference in both efficiency and field goal percentage.

Moving forward without Motum Washington State needs to find an answer at the point, and incoming freshman Ikenna Ireogbu is talented enough to be the option the Cougars end up going with. With Lacy, Woolridge and D.J. Shelton all expected to return, the pieces are in place for Washington State to return to the preferred side of the .500 mark in 2013-14.

According to the Associated Press Bone has three years remaining on his deal, and had he been relieved of his duties it would cost the school $2.55 million to buy out the contract.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)