Columnist Ken Goe has written for The Oregonian for nearly 37 years now and in that time he’s seen just about everything. He watched the Ernie Kent era at Oregon from start to finish and is uniquely qualified to grant some perspective on the new Washington State men’s basketball coach.
Q. What should WSU fans expect from their new basketball coach?
A. He’s charismatic, articulate and can win the interview room. He commands attention. He recruits well, at least he did to Eugene, and can coach more than one style of play. For most of his tenure, his players did very well in the classroom.
Q. What are some of Kent’s strengths and weaknesses with regards to recruiting?
A: I thought he recruited pretty well throughout. You don’t get the final eight twice out of Eugene with bad players. His 2002 team had three NBA players – Luke Ridnour and Fred Jones, and Luke Jackson. When things went south on him at the end, I didn’t think it was because he didn’t have players.
Q. Why did Kent experience such peaks and valleys at Oregon?
A: There are elite programs in college basketball that have sustained success. I wouldn’t put Oregon in that category. The Ducks don’t have the fan and booster support for basketball that they do for football, which makes it hard to get on top and stay there. I thought Kent’s overall record at Oregon was pretty good. His only real stinker was 2009. His best years came when he had really good assistants – but then that probably is true for every successful coach.
Q: Will Kent be able to win with WSU’s current roster or does he need to get his own players?
A: If the Cougars had enough good players to win now they probably wouldn’t be hiring a coach. Ken Bone can X and O. I think Kent will need some time. The upside is, you can turn around a basketball program quickly.
Q: WSU had the lowest attendance in the Pac-12 last season. Will Kent be able to change that?
A: I think he will make a good first impression and probably get people excited. After that, he has to win.