Seattle game opponents underwhelm Bone

WILL DIIORIO

WASHINGTON STATE FANS are not alone when it comes to the caliber of opponents the Cougars have faced since they began playing annually in 2005 at KeyArena. During his Tuesday teleconference, Bone called WSU's usual draw to the game "disappointing" and said they might make an adjustment in an effort to get a major conference opponent in the future.

"I know it's difficult to get teams [to Pullman], but I thought more teams would be interested in coming to the Seattle area," said Bone, whose team plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Seattle (TV: Pac-12 Networks) against Buffalo (4-7).

Bone said the Cougars (7-4) are willing to play a major nonconference opponent on the road next season if that team is willing to compete against them in 2014 at KeyArena. He said that is easier to accomplish in Seattle because the area produces some high-profile players that compete at schools nationally. Bone said they approached Louisville officials about that because the Cardinals feature Franklin High School graduate Peyton Siva, but were not able to come to an agreement.

He noted that even smaller schools, such as the University of Portland, have been successful attracting major conference opponents under similar circumstances. Kentucky featured forward Portland native Terrence Jones, who now plays in the NBA with Houston, last season.

The game is setup by Idol Sports and Entertainment, which also handles Gonzaga's annual "Battle in Seattle."

Despite some of his frustrations with the game, Bone said he supports playing in Seattle and the Dec. 29 contest against Idaho State in Kennewick. WSU drew just 2,686 fans Thursday in its 52-41 win against Jackson State.

"With the way the crowds have been the last two times out … maybe there's something to be said for going on the road," Bone said. "We've been able to get good crowds [in Seattle] the last two years."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • With the Cougars on break from classes until January, Bone said he is spending extra time on drills and focusing more on details than he is able to than when school is in session.

  • After Friday's game, WSU will practice Saturday at Seattle Pacific University before Bone gives the team multiple days off to spend with family.

  • Junior Will DiIorio has not played since suffering a sprained ankle Dec. 5 against Gonzaga. Bone said the 6-foot-5 guard participated in one-third of the team's drills during Tuesday's practice and he is hoping for more Wednesday. He said it is questionable as to whether DiIorio will play Friday.

    "That's the trainer talking," said Bone, laughing. "I want him out there now."

  • Demarquise Johnson is ineligible to compete this season as a partial qualifier, but Bone is hopeful the freshman will be able to practice next month.

    "We're waiting to receive his grades and how he did this last semester," Bone said. "That's a process and we need to send a waiver into the NCAA."

    He said this is classified as a redshirt season for Johnson, who will not lose a year of eligibility.

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