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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Ernie Kent after Idaho State

Ernie Kent opening statement:

Really talk about the parity in college basketball. Understand, we played a team that had nine new players, completely changed their style of play and I thought they played really, really hard in the game. What they forced us to do was to toughen up, was to get better defensively, to block out tougher, be more accountable to 3-point shooters. Forced us to score against a zone. A team that played 95 percent of the time in zone, and we still scored 85 points, that's a lot of points against a zone. It tells you the parity that's in college basketball.

That was just a fight for us early on. But as we got control of the game, we grew up over the course of the game so it's exactly the kind of game we need to get us ready in this preseason, tougher games, tougher opponents and to get you ready for conference play.

Question: What kind of impact did Valentine Izundu have?
Ernie Kent: He had a breakout game for him, he's got many more of them in him. Valentine's a player who the more he plays, the more confidence he'll get. The more confidence, the more you'll see in his game. He's a tremendous, tremendous athlete, shot blocker. He takes pride in blocking shots. He can block shots without fouling, he can block them with his right hand, with his left hand. Obviously, he's great at rebounding and I thought he was above the rim on some rebounds tonight that were just fantastic.

His presence inside gives you an opportunity to really pressure guards defensively that are different. We took the 3-point shot away by getting up on them more and daring them to drive. And with Val in the game, he's a great weapon back on that back line I think, that shut people down defensively.

Q: What impact can it have on the rest of the team to have him put his shot-blocking on tape?
EK: What it does is he allows you to play more up-the-line, more pressure defense, which forces teams to get out of their offense. They end up playing you a lot more one-on-one and they start driving. He forces teams to do things differently offensively. He had (six) blocks in the game and as I go home and watch tape I guarantee I'll see where he changed another dozen shots in there, just because he makes you think before you go in there. Think twice and everything. So I'm happy with the way he played, I'll be even more happy when his running mate gets on his game, Conor.

It was a tough game because of the quickness on the floor, but you have yet to see his game and obviously we've got some more weapons over there as well.

Q: Did Idaho State do anything to take you out of your tempo?
EK: Playing a zone. When you play zone and get back, there's not a lot of layups. There's a lot of ball movement. We had 13 turnovers against that zone. I'm happy they played a zone because it gave us a chance to work against it. I think people can see we're going to be effective in transition and effective in man-to-man in half court, we'll be effective against zone in half court. Again, that's a lot of points to put up. We scored 85 points. I don't know what it is that they did. They didn't really do a lot to stop us from scoring.

They made us play a different way and we were able to do that. That's a pleasant surprise for everybody, I think, to have a team that can put up 85 points this early in the year against a zone.

Q: Why was Ike Iroegbu able to find success?
EK: I think again we put him at the point guard spot and to his credit he allows us to play him off the ball when teams are playing you man and you can get out and run in transition. I felt like he was the headier point guard on the floor tonight, so when we moved him over it gave us a chance with those shooters on the floor to spread the floor and opened up driving lanes and it gave us an opportunity to attack the basket, shoot the 3, get fouled, knock down a free throw. His quickness and athleticism was on display because that zone sort of opened up once we started knocking down some 3s.

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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