Bone knows Pilots inside and out

KEN BONE

WASHINGTON STATE DOES not face a high-profile opponent in this year's Cougar Hardwood Classic. But Ken Bone said he doesn't think Portland will be any easier than last year's CHC opponent, Louisiana State, when his team faces the Pilots at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at KeyArena.

"I see them as being a veteran team," said Bone, who coached at nearby Portland State for three seasons before coming to WSU in 2009. "You look at their lineup and the guys playing in the program and almost everyone I have coached against."

Portland (3-0), which plays in the West Coast Conference, starts three seniors and two juniors. The seniors are led by guard Jared Stohl, a Marysville-Pilchuck graduate, who averages 16.7 points per game and has converted 57.1 percent of his 3-pointers.

Another senior, 6-foot-8 Luke Sikma, who starred at Bellevue High and is the son of former Seattle Sonics center Jack Sikma, averages 11.3 points and 13 rebounds per game. The Pilots also feature another inside presence in 6-9 senior Kramer Knutson, who never has shot worse than 51 percent from the field during his career.

"They're physical," Bone said. "They're big, strong and can beat you inside."

Before they play WSU, the Pilots face Kentucky tonight at Portland's Rose Garden and the play Saturday at Idaho. Bone and his staff are not allowed to be in attendance for those games per NCAA rules.

"I called to see if they can open the door so we can watch it outside," Bone said, jokingly.

Bone said he is not sure whether the break from games provides an advantage for the Cougars (2-0), who last played Tuesday in their 88-71 win against the Vandals.

"We're going to need to play better Tuesday," Bone said. "I think we're going to need to play a good, solid basketball game to compete with them."

Bone, a Seattle native, said he enjoys playing a yearly game at KeyArena. Bone said it makes sense to host games there, where WSU is 5-0, when students are on break. That again will be the case next week as students are off for Thanksgiving break.

The Cougars beat LSU 72-70 in overtime last year in Seattle.

"It was a sweet experience," Bone said. "I think it's good for our program. We have a lot of fan base in the Seattle area and we recruited heavily in that area."

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Guard said sophomore point guard Reggie Moore, who has a cast on his left wrist and has not played, remains "day-to-day." He said Moore did not practice Thursday, but took some shots.

  • Freshman forward Patrick Simon has impressed Bone. The 6-8 freshman from Ephrata has averaged 10.5 points in just 13 minutes per game. Simon also has shot 61.5 percent from the field and averaged 4.5 rebounds per contest.

    "He's shooting the ball well and rebounding the ball well," said Bone, adding that Simon is more physical than he anticipated. "He's just a good basketball player. I love his instincts."

    But power forward might be the deepest spot on the roster and Bone said redshirt junior Abe Lodwick and sophomore Brock Motum benefit from their experience.

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