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.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.