WSU's Bone faces questions about future after 9th straight loss

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The longest losing streak in a decade for Washington State men’s basketball has begun to raise questions about the future of its coach.

The Cougars have lost nine consecutive games and 10 out of 12. Coach Ken Bone was asked Tuesday on the Pacific-12 conference call if he was worried about his job.

“That’s not something I’m concerned about right now,” Bone said. “I’m concerned about UCLA tomorrow night, then USC, then the Pac-12 tournament.”

When asked if he had spoken with athletic director Bill Moos or if a meeting to discuss his future was scheduled, Bone repeated that his focus was on the final two games of the regular season before heading to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament next week.

“Things that are not under my control, I’m not worrying about them in any capacity of life,” Bone said.

USC is navigating its own coaching issue. An odd situation is playing out for the Trojans as they move along with Bob Cantu as interim coach.

The Trojans have won six of the last eight, and Cantu has turned them around. Yet, USC reportedly interviewed former Trojans coach Tim Floyd, the UTEP coach who resigned at USC following the 2008-09 season amid the O.J. Mayo scandal. The investigation into Mayo did not blame Floyd for any of the wrongdoing, though the school had to vacate 21 wins from his final season.

USC has also interviewed Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins.

Meanwhile, Cantu keeps plugging along.

“Obviously, I think the more you win, it helps your chances for sure,” Cantu said. “(Athletic director) Pat Haden, our administration, the entire staff has been very good.

“My philosophy in these types of situations is to focus on the teams, the players. … Stuff has kind of worked itself it out at the end of the year. For me, it’s been a good opportunity to be a head coach and get this type of experience at this level, and we’ll just have to see what happens at the end of the year.”

Happy for Zags

UCLA coach Ben Howland was a graduate assistant at Gonzaga in 1981-82, when he said the Zags’ recruiting budget was $10,000. The budget was so low, they kept an $800 car in San Francisco for staff to use when recruiting instead of paying for a rental car.

Howland even worked at Playfair Race Course in Spokane, which closed in 2000, as a door man. Howland would stand outside the air-conditioned portion of the track reserved for high rollers. He earned $5 an hour.

Now, Gonzaga is a midmajor powerhouse ranked No. 1 in the country.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Howland said.

Fastbreaks

All the teams will be staying at the MGM Grand for the Pac-12 tournament. The league considered using three or four hotels to house the teams, but settled on the MGM Grand, which is the largest hotel in North America and the site of the games. … Howland had to apologize after stating what appears to be the obvious when saying true freshman Shabazz Muhammad had played his last home game. Muhammad is projected to be a top-five pick. … Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie has made 159 free throws this season. That’s 44 more than any Husky has attempted.

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