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May 11, 2009
The coaching carousel has stopped turning for this offseason, and we asked basketball writers Mike Huguenin and Jason King to pick the first-year coach ? other than Kentucky's John Calipari ? who will have the best season in 2009-10.
There are a few things to like about this situation. First, Bone is a winner. He won at Seattle Pacific, then he won at Portland State, taking the Vikings to the past two NCAA tournaments. Second, the Pac-10 looks as if it will be down a bit next season. Third ? and most important ? Washington State has some talent. Klay Thompson, who will be a sophomore, should be one of the best players in the Pac-10. DeAngelo Casto has a chance to be one of the better big men in the league. There also are a lot of nice complementary parts. Having played for departed coach Tony Bennett, the Cougars who remain know how to play defense. They know how to play fundamentally sound basketball. There's no reason that shouldn't carry over under Bone, who also can be expected to increase the tempo a bit. Washington State was known for its deliberate style under Bennett, but Bone will loosen the reins. It's a lot easier for players who were used to a deliberate style to increase the pace a bit than it is for players used to an up-tempo attack to slow it down. Bennett did a nice job turning Washington State into a program to be reckoned within the Pac-10. Bone will keep it going for the Cougars and give fans something to take their mind off the football team.
JASON KING'S ANSWER: XAVIER'S CHRIS MACK
Mack inherited a darn good situation when he was hired last month to replace coach Sean Miller. Even though leading scorer B.J Raymond is gone along with C.J. Anderson, the Musketeers still boast one of the country's better casts of returnees ? assuming, of course, that Derrick Brown withdraws from the NBA draft and comes back to school. A Xavier alum and Musketeers assistant since 2004, Mack won't have to endure the rocky transition period that usually occurs the first season after a coaching change. Neither will his players, who respect Mack and were fully behind the hire. With talents such as Brown, Kenny Frease, Jason Love, Dante Jackson, Terrell Holloway and Jamel McLean competing for playing time along with Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford, the Musketeers will be favored to win the Atlantic 10 title in Mack's first season. Not a bad way to start.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.