Bone becomes 17th coach at Wazzu

Updated: April 7, 2009, 9:41 PM ET
Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Ken Bone got his dream job when Washington State overlooked the lone blemish on his resume, a stint at archrival Washington, to make him the Cougars' 17th coach on Tuesday.

"To be able to coach in the Pac-10 is the ultimate to me," said Bone, who spent the past four years at Portland State. "The Pac-10 is as high as I ever dreamed of going."

Bone led Portland State of the Big Sky Conference to two consecutive berths in the NCAA tournament, the only appearances in the program's history, plus an eye-opening road win at Gonzaga this season. He was 77-49 in four years at PSU.

"He does have one black mark on his career though," Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk joked, pointing to the three years before Portland State that Bone spent as an assistant at Washington.

The 50-year-old Bone, who grew up in the Seattle area, was quick to note that he graduated from Seattle Pacific.

Bone replaces Tony Bennett, who left last week for Virginia. He led the Cougars to a 69-33 record the past three years and the postseason all three seasons. They have the second-best record in the Pacific-10, behind UCLA, in that period.

Under Bennett and his father, Dick, the Cougars became one of the best teams in the league, and "I hope to keep it there," Bone said.

Sterk immediately expressed interest in Bone after Bennett announced his departure last week. Sterk said he interviewed nine candidates, in Seattle and at the Final Four in Detroit.

"We determined that Ken was the best person to lead this program," Sterk said. "A lot has been invested in building this men's basketball program to make it nationally competitive. I wanted the right person to build on the legacy of Dick and Tony Bennett."

Sterk and Bone worked together briefly at Seattle Pacific, and Sterk was a sports administrator at Portland State before Bone arrived there. He was impressed by Bone's success at both schools.

Terms of his contract were still being worked out and details were not disclosed. Tony Bennett had been making about $1 million per year.

Bone said his first priority will be choosing a staff, starting with candidates from the current WSU staff and his assistants at Portland State. He also wants to lock in the current roster, and keep the four recruits signed by Bennett for next year.

Bone was hired in part for his extensive recruiting ties in the Pacific Northwest. The Cougars largely ceded the region to Washington and Gonzaga in the past decade. This year's roster had only three players from the state: DeAngelo Casto, of Spokane, Charlie Enquist, of Edmonds, and John Allen, of Brier.

Bone is the first active head basketball coach to be hired by WSU since Kevin Eastman replaced Kelvin Sampson in 1994. The Cougars elevated Oklahoma State assistant Paul Graham in 1999, hired Dick Bennett out of retirement in 2003, and promoted his son from assistant to head coach in 2006.

Washington State is losing four seniors from a team that went 17-16, including leading scorers Taylor Rochestie and Aron Baynes, as well as part-time starters Caleb Forrest and Daven Harmeling. Only two upperclassmen return next season, and the team will rely heavily on freshmen and sophomores. Two players, Klay Thompson and Casto, made the all-Pac-10 freshman team last season.

Bone graduated from Seattle Pacific in 1983. He also has coached at Cal State-Stanislaus and Olympic Junior College in Bremerton. He was 253-97 in 12 seasons as head coach of Division II Seattle Pacific.

Bone and his wife, Connie, have three daughters.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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