By Brent Stecker

PULLMAN – A pair of players won't be back for the Washington State men's basketball team when the Ernie Kent era starts next season.

Two-year starting guard Royce Woolridge and Australian center James Hunter have both opted to transfer, Kent announced in a press release Tuesday.

Woolridge averaged 9.2 points and 2.7 assists per game for the Cougars in two seasons with the team. His next college will be his third – he originally transferred to WSU from Kansas.

The Phoenix native is planning to attend a school in Arizona to be closer to his grandmother.

"I commend Royce for his decision, as he made it based on what's best for him and his family," Kent said. "We will miss him and we wish him well."

The 6-foot-10 Hunter scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 18 games over two seasons for the Cougars.

Washington State also announced signee Jermaine Morgan has been released from his National Letter of Intent.

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Ernie Kent's up-tempo style and charisma should bring some much-needed excitement to WSU hoops. (AP)

By Jim Moore

If you still follow Cougar basketball, what was your reaction when you heard that athletic director Bill Moos hired Ernie Kent to be the new coach?

I'm mostly excited about it for several reasons, and I'm putting aside any possible concerns such as:

• If Kent's so good, why has he been on the sidelines doing TV stuff for the past four years?

• Did we really want a retread at the age of 59 to revive our team?

I don't know what the answer is to the first question, but as for the second question, sure, why not?

On a personal level, I love the former coach, Ken Bone. I'm still guessing he's as good as it gets when it comes to coaching the X's and O's of the game. But it wasn't happening on the floor or in the stands, where empty seats turned into empty sections at Beasley Coliseum as each year went by during the Ken Bone Era.

No one seemed to care about Cougar basketball anymore, which is crazy because it was just six years ago when we were in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with Tony Bennett as the coach. Then again, it's not so crazy when you consider how far we've fallen. The Cougs played hard but lacked talent; Bone didn't recruit enough good players to Pullman.

So if you're like me, they could have named Big Lo or anyone as coach and I'd be happy about it because it was time for a change.

Ernie Kent more than qualifies as a potential upgrade. At Oregon, for most of his time there, he proved himself as a recruiter and a coach. He coached four players who were first-round draft choices – Fred Jones, Luke Jackson, Luke Ridnour and Aaron Brooks. He led Oregon to five March Madness appearances, two Elite Eight appearances and two NIT Final Four appearances.

As I recall, when he coached at Oregon, the Ducks were a high-flying, three-point shooting, fast-paced team. I miss watching that kind of basketball and can't wait to see it in crimson-and-gray uniforms.

I'm old enough to remember when Kent played at Oregon for Dick Harter. The Ducks were known as the Kamikaze Kids because they were overly aggressive, always diving for loose balls and playing tough defense.

To be honest, I hated the Kamikaze Kids. I still remember the buzzer-beater that Ronnie Lee hit against us from the right of the lane as he fell to the floor. What a nightmare. I no doubt drank myself silly in room 227 of Gannon Hall after that one.

But if we can have an up-tempo, in-your-face, 25-foot shooting team now? Bring it on. I'd like to see us be more successful, of course, but while we're rebuilding, it sure would be fun to see an entertaining brand of basketball again.

I also like the fact that Kent has something to prove. He must have a chip on his shoulder. He must wonder why no one has hired him since 2010, his last year at Oregon.

And I like the fact that he was second or maybe even Moos' third or fourth choice. We all know that Boise State's Leon Rice was the first choice, but the WSU alum chose to stay put. I was the second choice a long time ago when I was hired to be a sports writer at the Anchorage Daily News. I remember having a feeling of wanting to prove that I should've been the first choice all along.

The other thing with Kent that I like: he has charisma and presence, traits that were missing in Bone.

We'll see how it plays out, but I can't wait to see what happens when Ernie Kent ushers in a new era of Cougar basketball.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

By Brady Henderson

Considered a leading candidate all along, Ernie Kent will indeed be Washington State's next men's basketball coach.

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Kent
The school announced Monday that Kent has signed a five-year roll over contract but did not disclose the terms of the deal. Kent will be introduced as the program's 18th head coach on Wednesday.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after WSU fired Ken Bone, and it comes as little surprise given the speculation that Kent was a strong possibility because of his connection to athletic director Bill Moos. The two worked together at Oregon, where Kent compiled a 235-174 record, won one Pac-12 regular-season title and made five NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 seasons as the Ducks' head coach.

"I am excited that Ernie will be the leader of our men's basketball program," Moos said in a university press release. "I have witnessed firsthand his many talents. He has proven that he can win championships in our conference. Together we saw tremendous success at his alma mater and I have every reason to expect to see the same at mine."

Before he was hired at Oregon, his alma mater, Kent coached at St. Mary's College from 1991-1997. He last coached during the 2009-2010 season and has since been working as a television analyst for Fox Sports Net and then Pac-12 Networks.

"I'm looking forward to providing the kind of passion and leadership to help potential student-athletes understand how special WSU is," Kent said in the press release. "Getting back into coaching for me has meant finding the right program that matches up with my passion, my vision, my beliefs and my commitment; and I feel Washington State University fits all that criteria for me. Bill Moos has a vision and has created enormous energy around Cougar Athletics and I want to be a part of that. Now is the time."

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Ken Bone was fired Tuesday after compiling an 80-86 record in five seasons at Washington State. (AP)

By Jim Moore

Well, the Ken Bone Era is over in Pullman. Washington State athletic director Bill Moos fired the Cougars' basketball coach Tuesday, which prompts the question: Now what?

On a personal level, I really liked Bone. Good man, and I'm guessing he's a great coach when it comes to the X's and O's. But he didn't have the players, and that's on him, too.

No offense, but if I'm being honest here, I have a hard time picturing him in living rooms, being able to consistently lure blue-chip or even red-chip recruits. When it comes to pizzazz, sizzle and charisma, there was none to be found in Bone.

But even in a season gone south, my kids and I watched nearly every game, and the thing that impressed me most was that Bone's players looked like they played hard for him to the very end. It's rare to see that with a lame-duck coach.

Sad. That's not how I feel about Bone's departure; it's how I feel about the program compared to where it was with Tony Bennett. With Coach McDreamy – the girls loved him, too – the Cougs made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2008.

By my math, and anyone's math, that was just six years ago. The Cougars were one of the best 16 teams in the country, and now they're the 11th-best in their conference.

What makes it worse is seeing Bennett at Virginia, all happy and smiling, leading the Cavaliers to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a win over Duke in the ACC Tournament last Sunday.

I was bitter and disappointed when he left, but Bennett got a better contract and an opportunity to coach in the ACC along with a new arena at Virginia.

The disappointment came from subconsciously knowing we'd have a hard time matching the success Bennett had with the next coach.

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Former Oregon coach Ernie Kent has a connection to Washington State athletic director Bill Moos and a track record of success in the conference. (AP)
Now we're on to the next-next coach or whatever you want to call him. I know this: I'll bet that Moos already had a verbal agreement in place with the new coach before he fired Bone.

Paul Wulff was fired as Washington State's football coach two weeks after Moos interviewed Mike Leach in Key West. So I'm guessing Moos has an offer on the table to someone, and that announcement likely will be made by the end of the week.

I'm also guessing that Ernie Kent will be the new coach. I say this because Moos, in a news conference Tuesday, mentioned that he would use Kent more as a sounding board to find out about other candidates who would be a good fit in Pullman.

Kent doesn't want to be an advisor; he wants to be the next Cougars coach, and Moos already knows as much.

You can make a great case as to why Kent should get the job. He won a Pac-10 championship and made five NCAA Tournament appearances at Oregon. He's energetic and would bring a faster-paced team to Pullman. He knows what it takes to be successful in this conference.

You could talk me into other candidates such as the ones that were listed in a CougCenter.com post: Boise State's Leon Rice, Utah State's Stew Morrill, Long Beach State's Dan Monson, Fresno State's Rodney Terry, Randy Bennett of St. Mary's and former UCLA coach Ben Howland.

I'd also add Montana's Wayne Tinkle to the list, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to have a Tinkle after having a Bone as my head coach.

I'd put Howland, who took two UCLA teams to the Final Four; and Rice, a WSU alum who worked under Mark Few at Gonzaga, at the top of the list with Kent. And I could be talked into any other candidate who can make Cougars basketball relevant again and put bodies into those empty seats at Beasley Coliseum again.

But based on what I heard at that Moos news conference, I'm guessing when the announcement's made, Ernie Kent will be introduced as the new coach.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

By Brady Henderson

Washington State has fired mens basketball coach Ken Bone after five seasons.

The move, first reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN, has since been confirmed by athletic director Bill Moos. In a press release, Moos said he informed Bone of the decision Tuesday morning.

"I appreciate what Ken has done for Cougar Basketball, leading us to the postseason twice in the last four years, and I thanked him for his service to WSU," Moos said. "But at this point we need to revitalize our fan base, particularly our student body, and position this program to compete for championships."

The Cougars finished the season 10-21 after a first-round elimination in the Pac-12 Tournament last week. It was their second straight losing season under Bone, who has a career record at Washington State of 80-86. His tenure included trips to the NIT seminfals in 2011 and the CBI finals the following year. He leaves with the sixth-most wins in school history.

Moos said the search for Bone's replacement will begin immediately and that he expects to name a new head coach as soon as possible.

Bone was an assistant at Washington and then the head coach at Portland State before replacing Tony Bennett at Washington State in 2009.

By CURTIS CRABTREE
Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) – The Huskies knew DaVonte Lacy was going to be able to score against them; they just weren't going to let the rest of the Washington State roster follow suit.

Washington State shot just 31 percent from the field and Washington held them without a field goal for the final 13:03 of the game in cruising to a 72-49 victory over the Cougars on Friday night.

"He's a pretty good shooter," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said of Lacy. "...They depend on him so much and if he gets it going he can knock some down. That's really what ended up happening. We did not want those other guys to beat us."

Lacy scored 25 points to lead the Cougars, but the Huskies (16-13, 8-8 Pac-12) kept the rest of the lineup in check. Lacy was the only player to reach double-figures for Washington State.

"We just, plain and simple, did not hit shots," Lacy said. "We had some wide open looks, especially in the second half and we just didn't hit shots."

Washington never trailed as they controlled the game from the opening tip.

Nigel Williams-Goss had 17 points and 12 rebounds with four assists and no turnovers to lead Washington. Andrew Andrews added 16 points and nine rebounds.

"We're not having one guy show up now," Romar said. "Multiple guys are showing up on the same night."

Lacy was the only consistent scoring option for the Cougars (9-19, 2-14) in the first half. Lacy scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting while the rest of the roster shot just 5 of 16 before the break.

"We knew that DaVonte was their best player and when he kind of gets going the other will feed off him," Andrews said. "DaVonte was going to take his shots so we were focused on really trying to limit the other players from getting going."

After Lacy's 3-pointer brought the Cougars within 53-44, Washington answered with a decisive 9-0 run to shut the door.

Williams-Goss picked off a lazy pass from D.J. Shelton and coasted for a breakaway dunk. After a Mike Anderson 3-pointer and layup from Perris Blackwell, Darin Johnson delivered a two-handed slam after a steal to give Washington a commanding 62-44 advantage.

The 3-pointer by Lacy was the last field goal the Cougars would convert in the game.

"We did not play confident at all down the stretch," WSU coach Ken Bone said. "I will try to get these guys to believe that they're better than they're performed tonight and hopefully we can go into that homestretch, those last two games, and play better basketball."

Andrews attacked the hoop and forced the action as the Huskies slowly extended their lead early. He caused Lacy to pick up his second foul with four minutes left in the half. Lacy remained in the game but had to play cautiously to avoid picking up a third foul before the break.

"It's nice when you have a supporting cast making you look good," Bone said. "And tonight (Lacy's) supporting cast just wasn't very productive."

Lacy converted a breakaway layup in the first half to cut the Washington lead to nine, but Wilcox drilled a wide open 3-pointer to give the Huskies a 36-24 lead at the break.

Washington continued to maintain the cushion early in the second half despite the Cougars finding some offensive rhythm. Lacy made a 3-pointer to open the period. Royce Woolridge and Shelton followed with a pair of three-point plays to cut the lead to 40-33, but the Huskies countered every blow.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
By JULIE SCOTT
Associated Press

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) – Anthony Brown scored a career-high 30 points and went 10 of 11 from the free-throw line to help Stanford beat Washington State 69-56 on Saturday.

Chasson Randle scored 14 points and made 5 of 6 free throws late in the second half as Stanford (16-8, 7-5 Pac-12) rebounded from a loss Wednesday against Washington.

Que Johnson scored 14 points and had a career-high eight rebounds for Washington State (9-16, 2-11).

Brown scored 11 of the first 14 Stanford points to help the Cardinal gain a 16-point first-half lead.

"My first shot was wide open. I hit it. My second shot was wide open. Once you hit two, the basket starts getting real big," Anthony Brown said. "They just kept leaving me open and I took what they were giving me."

Stanford jumped on Washington State from the opening tip and never trailed in the game. The Cardinal came out with a quick 14-3 lead.

Brown lit up the Cougars for 20 first-half points and came up a perfect 6 of 6 from the field and 4 of 4 from the 3-point line. The Cardinal shot 63 percent in the half.

"It was Anthony's best game offensively of his career." Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "What won't be shown is that he defended very well. He did a great job against Lacy, one of the best players in our league."

DaVonte Lacy who dropped a career-high 39 points in the overtime loss against Cal Thursday night took only one shot in the first half and ended the night with 13, well below his 19.8 season average.

"They played aggressive on the screens and that is how we get D.J. and Lacy open. They denied the entry passes, and they were physical and we struggled to get open shots," Washington State coach Ken Bone said.

The Cougars were plagued once again by a series of scoring droughts. Johnson hit a 3 to cut the Cougars deficit to 19-14 at the 11:22 mark, but Washington State then went 6 minutes without a basket. Stanford went on a 9-0 run to stretch the lead and end the half up 39-24.

Stanford started the second half just 1 of 10 from the field while Washington State cut the deficit to 49-44 at 9:17, but that would be as close as the Cougars would come.

"I think in the second half, they did a better of job of finding some shooters. They're an excellent 3-point shooting team, and they can get back in any game, we just managed to get to the line," Dawkins said.

The Cardinal finished off Washington State by going 9 of 12 from the free-throw line the final 4 minutes of the game. This is the first time since 2008 that Stanford has swept the season series with Washington State.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) – Justin Cobbs scored 22 points, 15 in the second half and seven in overtime, as California held off Washington State's 3-point barrage, 80-76 on Wednesday night.

Cobbs' three-point play put Cal up 69-67 with 26 seconds left in regulation before DaVonte Lacy hit two free throws for Washington State to send the game into overtime.

Cobbs made 5 of 6 free throws in overtime and ended the game with a dunk at the buzzer.

Richard Solomon added 15 points for California (16-8, 7-4 Pac-12) before picking up his fifth foul with less than a minute gone in overtime.

DaVonte Lacy scored a career-high 39 points, including eight 3-pointers, for Washington State (9-15, 2-10). D.J. Shelton added 18 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.

Cal held the Cougars to just seven points in overtime, including one field goal.

A putback by Cal's Ricky Kreklow tied it at 73 with 2:16 left in overtime. Cobbs then made 3 of 4 free throws on Cal's next two possessions, the last two coming with 18 seconds left. Then Cal decided to intentionally foul Washington State before the Cougars could launch a game-tying 3-pointer.

"We have had so many situations where other teams in that situation have made 3's, and with the way they were shooting, we made the right choice to foul," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.

Lacy pulled the Cougars within 76-75 after two free throws with 9 seconds left, but Cobbs was fouled again and made them both.

Ahead by three points, Cal purposely fouled Washington State's Ike Iroegbu with 5 seconds left. He made the first and intentionally missed the second, but the rebound kicked out to Cobbs, who raced down the court for the flush at the buzzer.

It's the fifth straight overtime loss for Washington State, and its third straight conference loss.

Washington State jumped out to a 19-10 lead as Lacy scored a quick 10 points on his way to 13 first-half points. Lacy made all five of his free throws in the opening 20 minutes and finished the night a perfect 11 of 11 from the line.

Cal trailed 28-25 with 4:22 remaining in the half, but a putback dunk by David Kravish sparked a 14-2 run to end the half to give the Bears a 39-30 edge. Washington State made just 2 for 11 shots to end the half.

The Cougars opened the second half with eight 3-pointers. Lacy and Shelton hit back-to-back 3's to tie the game at 55 at the 8:59 mark and they combined to make six straight free throws in the final 2:28 to send the game into overtime.

Cobbs scored Cal's final 10 points of the second half, capped by his go-ahead layup and bonus free throw with less 26 seconds remaining.

"It's tough to lose a close game, but Cal did the things they needed to do to win the game," Washington State coach Ken Bone said. "They made shots and they made free throws, and Justin Cobbs was really good in the second half."


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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