Bone looking to 'peak at the right time'

MOST POSTSEASON OPTIONS seemingly are outside the realm of possibilities for Washington State's men's basketball team. That does not mean coach Ken Bone is discounting those possibilities. He discussed that during his Tuesday teleconference and the Cougars' 7 p.m. game Wednesday against Oregon State (TV: Pac-12 Networks).

While the odds of WSU (11-13 overall, 2-9 conference) advancing to the NCAA Tournament through winning the Pac-12 Tournament could be described as a long shot at best, Bone is not ready to discount that prospect.

"We want to peak at the right time," he said. "I think it is wide open. There's a lot of parity in the conference."

If the Cougars have confidence against any conference team, it might be the Beavers (12-12, 2-9). WSU won 71-68 on Jan. 26 at OSU and will earn its third consecutive regular-season sweep of the Beavers with a win Saturday. Bone is 7-2 against OSU with the Cougars.

"Here is a team we were able to beat," he said. "That's a confidence builder."

WSU held a significant advantage in two statistics to helped it win the first meeting. The Cougars corralled 11 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Beavers 39-27. In addition, WSU converted 14 of 18 free throws, while OSU made just 7 of 13.

That helped negate the Beavers' offensive advantage. According to statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy, OSU ranks 52nd nationally in adjusted offense, while the Cougars are 127th. During the first meeting, the Beavers shot 47.3 percent from the field and had three players score in double figures.

But because of OSU's struggles, some have speculated about Robinson's job security. In five seasons, Robinson has a 29-54 conference record. Bone decline to speculate on why that program has struggled.

"Right now, I don't know the ins and outs of what they're doing," he said.

Bone has received plenty of scrutiny as WSU has struggled this season, as well. He said the coaches are working with players and meeting individually with others in an effort to improve.

One player who seems to be progressing is sophomore guard Royce Woolridge. While WSU has lost four consecutive games, Woolridge has shot 47.2 percent from the field and averaged 14 points during those contests. Bone said the combination of the 6-foot-3 Woolridge playing at a smaller high school (Sunnyslope) in Arizona and sitting out last season as a transfer from Kansas made the transition to starting for the first time in the Pac-12 difficult.

"I think he's becoming more confident in his ability to do things," Bone said. "It takes time to get out there and compete. I think he will continue to grow as a player."

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