Washington State lost by two points at last-place Arizona State on Saturday, likely ending any argument the 17-10 Cougars might have had for deserving an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
It didn't help that Washington State was missing guard Klay Thompson, the Pac-10 scoring leader, from its starting lineup. Thompson, who still finished with 28 points in 34 minutes, was benched at the beginning of the game for being late. Here's the reason for it, according to The Spokesman-Review:
But he also played a role in the Cougars' glacial start, benched for the first 5 minutes, 47 seconds because he was late for the team bus.
"I lost my iPod, so I was stressing there," he said.
It's unclear how Washington State might have done with Thompson in the lineup. But coach Ken Bone, who didn't know about the iPod until after meeting with Thompson on Monday, made it clear that rules are rules.
"What we're trying to do is lay down some discipline within the program, and one of those areas whether it's rules, policies is to try to make sure that when there's time involved, be on time," Bone said. "It's kind of a life lesson. We're not going to try to throw away games because of it. And he knows the rules. He understood it. He had no issue with it.
"The way things have gone in regard to managing time, we're going to stick with that. The guys are going to be on time when they need to be, or there will be consequences."
For a second straight season, the Cougars have disappointed in conference play after a nice nonconference start. For a missing iPod to have had even a slight effect on them dropping below .500 in the Pac-10 is just salt in the wound.
And as it turns out, Thompson hadn't actually even lost the iPod and eventually was able to find it. According to Bone, it was in forward Brock Motum's bag all along.