The Washington State men's basketball season opened up its season in exciting fashion with plenty of 3-pointers and dunks in an 82-70 win Friday night over Big Sky foe Northern Arizona at Beasley Coliseum.
The Cougs stayed perfect on this young season behind breakout performances from newcomers Viont'e Daniels and Valentine Izundu. Izundu sat out last season after transferring to Washington State from Houston. Daniels, a true freshman and Federal Way, Wash. native, was a perfect 5 for 5 from the beyond the arc in his collegiate debut and tying for a game-high 15 points. Izundu, a 6-10 shot swatter, batted away four Northern Arizona shots and altered many others.
Read on further for comments and notes.
The only real note to come away from this game was Charles Callison losing the starting point guard nod to Ny Redding. Well, there's a reason for that.
"We have a policy on our team that you don’t miss classes. If you miss class, you go visit Mr. Wood. He had to visit Mr. Wood for a while but he’s alright, we got that straightened out," Kent said.
Callison played 17 minutes off the bench, perhaps not making as big of a mark as he'd hope with three points and four assists to go with a turnover and a steal.
Here are more Ernie Kent comments:
Ernie Kent on if he expected this type of game out of Daniels
"Viont’e, since he’s been here, since he came this summer, he has looked like that every single day with the exception of one day. He’s had one bad day of practice where he didn’t come in and shoot the ball. He has shot it that well, he spends a lot of time on his game, he’s one of those special players where he does everything you ask him to do. On the defensive end, on the offensive end, he is going to be a really, really special player. And he’s going to continue to get better as he continues to gain confidence and his body gets stronger."
On if he was surprised that Daniels wasn't recruited as much as he was
"I’ll talk about how we recruit. We don’t care what the media says about players and their rankings and things like that. It’s about fit. What’s the prototype fit per position for what we’re looking for. He’s one of those players who when I went to the gym and saw him, he looked just like he looked today. He ran the floor extremely hard, he’s a great kid, he’s from a tremendous family and he’s gifted. To answer your question, we have had players like that in past who maybe on paper, what everybody else said it didn’t look like, whatever, they’re not your five star. But, here can come into this system like Josh Hawkinson, case and point, to where they’ll just blossom. Renard Suggs will be like that, Charles Callison didn’t play a good game but he has a game on him where he’ll blossom in our system and how we coach."
On how he finds and recruits players like Daniels
"Everybody can walk into a gym and pick out the McDonald’s All-American. Recruiting is finding a kid who fits your style of coaching, your style of play, fits a community, fits a campus and when you plug him in that system they just blossom. That’s who he is. Robert Franks is going to be another player like that."
On Valentine Izundu's play
"I’d say for him having sat out for about two years, he had a great game. Because not only did he have a few blocks, he changed another half a dozen shots that they went in and knew he was in there and threw them up too quick and off balanced. He’s a big factor in the game defensively for us because we can put a lot more pressure on the ball and dare teams to drive in there, create more havoc and turnovers with that press when we have a guy like Valentine sitting on that back line there. So, I thought he was great in the game for a guy who hasn’t played a lot of basketball in the last couple years in front of people. He’s another guy who in time will just get better."
On how Izundu will help Hawkinson and the rest of the team
"I think if you look at the first half of the game, you really didn’t notice Josh. He had a couple of buckets but you noticed VIont’e in the game, you noticed down Ny knocking down buckets, you noticed to speed of the game and you noticed the press. You really didn’t notice Josh and then all of a sudden the second half of the game, there’s a point and time of about 10 minutes where Josh took over the game. 3-pointer, mid-range jumper, layup, free throws, what he allows Josh to do is not take a tough guy on defense. He allows Josh to get beat on occasion knowing you’ve got that big shot blocker behind you, he just takes the pressure off of us defensively knowing you have a guy who can protect the rim back there."
On Washington State pressing more on defense
"I have never had a team that has pressed like this team is capable of pressing. I’ve always been a guy where we put the pressure on you in the halfcourt and then we run you and we set a torrent pace on you just from playing halfcourt defense. To have the athletes that we have and the numbers, to keep putting numbers, depth, length, athleticism on the floor, scorers on the floor and to keep that pressure on you, I’ve never coached a team like that. So we’re kind of experimenting with things as a coach to let them go and just let them play and let them loose a little bit, but yes, I’m hoping that brand of basketball gets the students in this arena and gets the community in this arena. Because there will be dunks, there’ll be threes, turnovers, there’ll be steals. Hopefully you can feel the pace of the game and feel the passion of this team and I’m hoping people will want to come and see them play again."
Viont'e Daniels on his play
"My teammates found me and I knocked down shots. We all played together as a team and we’re getting better each and every day," Daniels said. "I was open and my teammates found me. Credit to them for finding me and I just knocked down shots."
Daniels on passing up a wide-open 3 even after he was 5 for 5
"My teammate was open and the defense was running at me, coach always talks about one more and that’s what I did. So I swung it over to Renard and he made the play."
Daniels on if he feels he was under-recruited
"I was under-recruited, that all motivates me to be a better person, be a better player and it helped me out in the long run. So, now whoever didn’t recruit me now sees they messed up."
Josh Hawkinson on Valentine Izundu's play
"I’ve been bragging about Val for a year now. He’s just been in practice and no one gets to see any of the stuff he does all the blocks or the people he dunked on or that type of stuff, but now that he’s available to play I think the students and everyone across the country is just going to see how athletic and how much of a player he is nnd how much of a defensive help he can bring to our team ... if there’s a drive he can make up for that and block the shot or (we can) throw up to lobs to him and he’s capable of brining the house down."
Que Johnson on the guard rotation and how it played in its first game without Davonte Lacy
"Replacing Davonte is hard but, like you said, we’re deeper. We have shooters now. We have people that can drive so we’re definitely deeper," Johnson said." As a team we played good. We came out with a fast start, we ran the floor good, the bench came in and ran the floor good also so it was a good effort and game for us."