GET TO KNOW BONE: First impressions

We'll go pretty in depth into what we're getting in Ken Bone in the next few days and weeks, but consider this your primer.

Cougfan has this great writeup of what kind of a coach Bone is from a coach's perspective, talking to some guy named Marv Harshman. I've heard he knows a thing or two about coaching. Let's take a look at what he has to say.

First off, the motion offense the Bennetts preferred that so often eats up most of the shot clock -- which, let's face it, could be frustrating to watch at times -- won't be a staple any longer:

In terms of Xs and Os, Bone is a polar opposite of Tony Bennett when it comes to offense. Where Bennett was conservative and mostly unimaginative, Bone is known for an up-tempo pace and a knack for experimenting.

Moreover, Bone is a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to offensive thinking. "In this day and age, most teams basically have two options in their half-court offense," noted Harshman. "Ken will have five."

It's important to remember, though, that Bone isn't married to pushing the pace as much as humanly possible. The Vikings' adjusted pace this year was just 65.7 possessions per game (below the national average of 66.5), and four of their final five games were played at 60 possessions or fewer, including their first-round game against Xavier. That's WSU territory.

That also reinforces something that I think will be a real asset to Bone -- he's flexible. The reason you put that many sets in is so you can adapt to your opponent. Those of you that are worried that we can't be successful playing at a faster tempo should know that Bone's not going to run for running's sake; however, there will be more running than what you ever saw under the Bennetts. I'm not sure that's such a bad thing with guys like Capers, Thompson, Casto and hopefully Thames in the fold.

On defense, Bone is much more Bennett-esque. He has said he believes team chemistry starts at the defensive end of the court. The key to success, he told the Portland Oregonian recently, is getting kids to "buy into the defensive philosophy and understand that half of the game is on defense."

Like Bennett, Bone is a big advocate of man-to-man defense, though he’s not as allergic to zones as was Bennett.

Pressure and deny are the cornerstones of his defensive philosophy. He doesn’t do a lot trapping or pressing.

If those are the cornerstones of his defensive philosophy, you can kiss goodbye to the pack, where the cornerstone is keeping players out of the paint at all costs. Pressure and deny defense relies on coming up with some steals to be effective, so it shouldn't be any surprise that PSU's opponents' turnover percentage had a -.62 correlation to the Vikings' defensive efficiency (what's defensive efficiency?).

Want further illustration? PSU played 33 games last year -- 18 when opponents turned the ball over more than the national average of 20.4 percent and 15 when opponents turned the ball over less than the national average. In those first 18 games they were 17-1. In those latter 15, they were 6-9. 

But is that such a bad thing? While we all love the pack and have built our program's identity around it, as long as everyone stays and most of our signees come to campus, we do have the personnel to play Bone's style. To play that style to perfection, you need long, quick, athletic guys on the perimeter, and preferably a shot blocker under the bucket to make up for gambles gone bad. Sound like a team you know? 

And as far as personality goes ...

"He’d be perfect to replace Bennett. He’s the same kind of guy," Dan Raley, a former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter who has known the Bone family for years and covered Ken Bone during his three-year assistant coaching run at Washington, recently told CF.C.

"Klay Thompson, for example, would find Ken almost as Tony’s twin. There’s no BS about him. A straight up guy. He’s one of those kind of guys you find a little bit intoxicating. You get inspired by him."

And that is, perhaps, as important as anything. If you're trying to retain both current players and convince incoming recruits that this is still the place for them, a guy who is similar in personality should be a huge asset in terms of making players feel comfortable with the change. Remember, this is a guy who convinced legit, upper Division I players to come to Portland State of all places. If he's truly that inspiring, he should be able to convince everyone that Pullman is the place to be.

I like our chances.

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