SPOKANE — Ken Bone will return as men’s basketball coach at Washington State next season.
Bone said Thursday that he met with athletic director Bill Moos on Wednesday and was told he will lead the Cougars for a fifth season.
Bone had been on the hot seat after the Cougars finished 13-19 overall and just 4-14 in the Pac-12. It was Bone’s first losing season with the team.
Bone is 70-65 in his four seasons at Washington State, with two last-place finishes in the league.
“There’s no doubt we need to win more basketball games,” Bone said. “I don’t think the players or myself or anyone in Cougar Nation is excited about the number of wins we had.”
Bone said he received no specific goals from Moos.
“He didn’t say ‘You have to make the NCAA tournament or win X amount of games,”’ Bone said. “We’ve just got to get better.”
Firing Bone would have been an expensive proposition for Washington State. He has three years left on a contract that pays $850,000 a year, and would have been due a $2.55 million buyout.
Washington State has lost leading scorer Brock Motum and guard Mike Ladd to graduation.
But they return a solid nucleus of DaVonte Lacy, Royce Woolridge, D.J. Shelton and Dexter Kernich-Drew, who all gained valuable minutes this year. Newcomers Que Johnson and Jordan Railey are also expected to contribute.
“I think Royce Woolridge will continue to get better and better,” Bone said. “Near the end of the year he played as good as anyone on our team.”
“We have a very good foundation, which sounds strange when you are going into your fifth year,” Bone said. “But at times you’ve got to take a step back to go forward.”
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Pontiac, Mich., was an academic casualty this year. But Bone expects him to qualify for the coming season.
Bone did not know if there would be any defections from the team, as he had not had meetings with most of the players since the season ended.
“There are always guys looking for something different, and the thing is to sit down and have an honest discussion with each guy,” Bone said. “In a perfect world they will all be back.”
He also did not anticipate any staff changes.
Washington State, which as recently as 2008 reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament, should be able to compete with most teams in an improving Pac-12, Bone said. He noted the Cougars lost a lot of close games this season. The Cougars also upset conference champion UCLA near the end of the season
“If we can clean some things up, take care of the ball better and get stops at critical times on the defensive end, we can compete with most of the teams in our league,” Bone said.