It wasn't pretty, but Washington State men's basketball coach doesn't expect many wins to come in that fashion in his first year at the helm in Pullman.
Friday night's 80-68 win over Idaho State at Beasley Coliseum showed as much.
I unload my quote book from Kent and players after the jump.
Kent had a message for his coaching staff after the Cougars' win, in which the Cougars led only 32-31 at halftime.
"Just told my staff that everyone is going to be that tough this year. They’re just going to be grind it out games until we hit our rhythm. Hit our groove. We’ve have so much to work on, which is a good thing because we have a lot of growth potential. Because we have so many areas to get better in."
More Kent quotes
- On the announced crowd of 2,138 in his Beasley Coliseum debut:
"It’s going to take a while for this crowd. When you send the students out of here, that’s the crowd: the students. When you’ve go 20-plus thousand of them and they exit campus because of the holiday, I didn’t expect it to be a great crowd. We’re going to need to get this building on fire. Whether it’s five, eight, ten (thousand) it doesn’t matter, we need to get it on fire if we’re going to have success. But, we’ve got something to do with that. We came off a struggling road trip to come home, we gave the fans something to cheer about (tonight), we have to go back on that road on a neutral court up in Anchorage. But we have to play. If you build a product, people will come. If you build a team that plays hard, plays smart, makes its free throws, knocks down its shot, plays together, win or lose, if you see the right characteristics of a team, people will come and see that. They’ll feed off the energy in the building, and then they’ll feed off of that."
Sophomore Josh Hawkinson dominated the inside of Idaho State's zone, finishing with a game-high 26 points and 15 rebounds. It's a performance that doesn't surprise Kent in the least bit.
"Don MacLean down at the (Pac-12) Network had this big debate, because I said you have to understand how good this guy is. Because when you’re around and see him, he was a freshman that was unsure of himself and not confident but yet his skillset is what I looked at. He could pass the ball, he could dribble it, he could shoot the three. The emergence came when you went and gave him the green light. And said 'Look, you’re not an inside player. You’re a perimeter, skilled, European 4-man. Shoot on the outside, shoot it on the inside, float wherever you want to float' ... This year you see a player starting to grow up and get confidence. He’s going to have a good career here."
Kent also had some words on his freshman point guard Ny Redding. Redding dished out four assists on only one turnover.
"The thing that I like about him is when he came here, the first week he could not make a jump shot. In fact he went two weeks, maybe three weeks before he made a jump shot in practice. He went into the gym, he spends his solitary time in there, he works on that machine nearly every night and here comes his confidence and here comes his shot. But more importantly he dominates practice with his energy. He’s the vocal guy, any one of the teams you want to put him on. Whether it’s the starting team or not, he has the ability to lift the team up. That’s point guard leadership. That’s why you start to see him come on as a freshman because he’s totally accepting coaching, he’s accepting the challenge, he’s putting the time in the gym."
I asked DaVonte Lacy how the first win under Ernie Kent felt. His response: "It’s good. Obviously we’re not going to go 0-32 but to get that first win under our belt, it felt good. It was kind of bittersweet because we knew we could have play better and we want to play better for the fans. We’re going to focus on getting better and hopefully the next time we come out we play to the best of our ability."
When it comes to the media, Redding isn't very outspoken. At least yet. But he did have this to say when asked about his role leading Wazzu's higher-tempo offense: "I feel like we’re adjusting just fine. It’s rough staying in shape, I feel like once we continue to get used to running and getting up the floor that’s when our team is going to start to play well."
And Josh Hawkinson on his Bengal-slaughtering night: "Well, in particular tonight, we focused on getting the ball in the middle and then look to the outside more to collapse on the zone. My teammates found me in the middle and I was fortunate to knock down open shots."