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February 23, 2011
When someone forgets an iPod in a hotel room, people get a little perturbed that they have to wait for you to find something you should've been keeping track of. It's even worse when you keep an entire team of people waiting at a bus to take them to an early basketball game. I understand why Wazzu men's hoop head coach Ken Bone was less than happy with his star player - junior shooting guard Klay Thompson - being late to the team bus, especially for something as trivial as looking for an iPod. Granted, I understand it's an expensive piece of technology no one wants to lose but I can understand why Bone might get perturbed.
Bone followed the letter of his rule: if you're late to the bus, you don't play. Some people thought benching Thompson in a crucial game such as this one was a stupid decision and it cost the Cougars the game. Others think the rule in of itself is stupid, so what if someone is a few minutes late to the bus? Especially late in the season when every win truly counts. Many are blaming Bone for literally flushing the season down the toilet just to try and keep a semblance of control over his team.
Let's get one thing out of the way: every one who thinks temporarily benching Thompson was the worst and dumbest thing Ken Bone could do is wrong. You're wrong. There is only one thing I don't agree with when it came to Thompson's punishment: how long he sat for. After the tip, I would've sent him right to the scorer's table and had him check in at the first dead ball. Sitting out the first five minutes of the game would've been a punishment fit for goofing off in the locker room before shoot around or disrespecting another player. Not forgetting your iPod.
But Bone is on the money right now. The assertion that the game was thrown away because Bone chose to try and make a point about not being late for the team bus no matter the excuse is pure crap. This team, as currently constructed and should've been able to hold a lead against a Rihard Kuksiks and Ty Abbott-less team for a few minutes without him. But the defense was absolutely horrific and even with Thompson in the game, it was terrible. Arizona State was jacking up open threes every time they came down the floor and making most of them. As one of my good friends said, the defense was about the quality of the NBA All-Star game and he's right. It shouldn't have mattered if Thompson was in the game or not, this team should've played better defense. And they shouldn't have coughed the ball up countless times in the first half. And they shouldn't have missed just about every free throw they took.
Plus the fact, being late for the bus and the punishment that followed showed me one thing: Mr. Thompson might be ready, physically for the NBA, but he isn't ready mentally. Although he may resent Bone for benching him, Thompson is learning an important lesson: everyone is treated the same, no exceptions.
I know the cynical amongst you will say, "Well, this is college, not the NBA where it doesn't matter." Maybe you are right, but in college, coaches are supposed to be molders of young men and turn immature, misguided boys into responsible and respectful men. So if he just let Thompson make the bus late, what would that do to help make him into the man the NBA expects to be getting?
Let's take that a step farther. What if, say, Abe Lodwick or Marcus Capers had been late to the bus for the exact same reason? I think it'd be safe to say most of us would've been more than alright to see them benched to start the game. Even one step farther. What if it had been a player like Stephen Bjornstad or Charlie Enquist? Those guys rarely if ever see the floor. But Bone would still have to punish them for being late.
At the end of the day, Klay Thompson is just another player on a team Ken Bone is coaching. And he has to treat all of his players, regardless of whether they're scoring over 20 or under3 points per game, the same. You can't just tailor a punish to the player who violated the rule.
And even if, for whatever absurd reason you might think is logical, benching Thompson did cost the Cougars that game (which it most assuredly did not), Bone had to stand by his principals. Remember where he comes from: Seattle Pacific, Portland State. One school smaller than the other but both require being run with the same amount of principle. Benching a player to start a game at either of those schools doesn't create much of a ripple. At Washington State it obviously does. But just because the school has changed doesn't mean Bone has too as well.
Last Week: 4-5
This is a horrifyingly boring game.
Stanford 67, Oregon State 58
No outcome in this game helps WSU at all.
California 78, Oregon 73
Alright Arizona, do you magic!
Arizona 82, USC 71
This is an uninteresting game.
UCLA 83, ASU 60
Stanford 64, Oregon 58
And go Beavers!
Oregon State 71, California 65
Now THIS is a hell of a game.
Arizona 89, UCLA 82
Ugh, more boring basketball.
USC 63, ASU 53
Washington has not lost at home this year and WSU is not equipped to be the team to change that.
Washington 93, Washington State 76
Obscure Pick of the Week: Alright, a couple of Independents trying to qualify up. This should be good enough for a nap.
South Dakota 76, NJIT 65
Dunderhead of the Week: Alright, John Buccigross gets a lot of hatred this week. Sportscenter showed footage of Kobe Bryant being asked by a reporter who twisted the world champions' words around when he said he loved playing with young, fast players in the All-Star game. The reporter asked if Bryant would like some younger, faster players on the Lakers (rumors have been swirling for weeks). Kobe refused to answer the question, rightfully so. Buccigross chimed in, "I think that's a valid question, that's good journalism." No it isn't John! Not after an exhibition game, to twist someone's words around to try and get an inflammatory statement out of them! It's terrible journalism you moron!
And, of course, John Buccigross.
+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++
The 2010-11 athletic season continues to be here and you know what that means It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Men's hoop, women's hoop and baseball, just to name a few, are playing their 2011 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.