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WSU vs. LCSC: postgame press conference



Ernie Kent opening statement:

There were some moments in the game with the right group on the floor that I thought we did some really good things, both defensively and offensively. I wanted to play everybody in the game tonight, got some strange combinations out there. It's hard to fly in and out of games, be stiff, and jump back in there again but I wanted to give everybody to get on the floor so we can look at tape, and teach and make corrections and things of that nature. I thought when we were really locked in defensively, we did a really nice job in this game. When we were locked in offensively, we shot the ball well, also. But when we broke down defensively, as these guys will learn, it doesn't matter who you're playing. Everybody can score at this level. If you're not locked in on your defensive assignment, you forget to rotate and are not ready to move your feet and play defense, anybody can score on you.

It's going to be a great teaching tape for us. But at the same time, obviously when we get going, we won't play everybody. I'm trying to find a rotation of probably about eight, nine, maybe 10 guys and those will be the guys that really get locked in for us defensively.

Question: How concerning were the unforced turnovers?
Ernie Kent: We had 16 turnovers in the game. And again, playing that many people, I'm not really too worried about that because that will start to take care of itself as you shorten your bench, and play the people who understand. We had the one violation, that was because of a new rule. That wasn't a 10-second violation. When the ball gets tipped, the clock doesn't get reset. So it's kind of on us to educate and make sure guys totally understand what that is, even though we've talked about it.

I'm not too much worried about that. As fast as we play, and the way we get up and down the floor, if we can keep it between 10 and 16 turnovers, that's really good. Particularly playing that many different combinations on the floor.

Q: What did you think of your perimeter defense?
EK: Well, when you start throwing up 36 threes, that's a lot of threes. And when you get upon a team the tendency is to relax a little bit. And then all of a sudden, again, trying to get guys in and out of the game and guys kind of got lost at times on defensive assignments. And shoot that many threes, you're going to make your fair share of them. So overall, I don't think we did a very good job with our perimeter defense when you look at how many threes they got up, how many uncontested ones they shot, but yet, at the same time, they hit some tough ones.

What I'll look at is where we were at on the floor when we broke down, work with those guys, get them tougher mentally in terms of understanding what they need to do.

Q: What did you learn about your team?
EK: I learned that we can be a team that can really score. If we share the basketball, we'll be able to shoot it. I learned that if we get out in transition, we're athletic enough – a lot more athletic than last year. I learned that we will not miss the scoring punch that graduated from our program; we've got some guys that can come in and score. And I learned that we can be a really good defensive team. We have the right mindset, the right combination on the floor, we have can be a really, really good defensive team.

There were moments I thought our energy was tremendous in the game and we defended extremely well. And there were other times with a different lineup when we broke down.

Q: Charles, it must be nice to get those first couple dunks out of the way?
Charles Callison: Yes, sir, it gives us some momentum.

Q: Did they help you get into a rhythm?
EK: Actually, it did. It really helped me get the jitters out and helped me get more comfortable in the game.

Q: What's your evaluation of the game, Josh?
Josh Hawkinson: I thought I saw a bunch of different lineup groups that we went with and tried to figure out which ones worked, and which ones mesh with each other. I think that's the main thing. We have seven new guys, just trying to figure out the chemistry and cohesiveness with our team.

Q: Why was it harder to respond to their runs in the second half than the first?
JH: Shots just started falling for them, and when they shoot 36 threes, eventually some of them are going to start to drop. They started making them and we knew had to do something about that and we couldn't let them come right back in the game.

Q: What did you see out of Valentine Izundu?
JH: He's really long, athletic defender and, you know, he had to guard (Jacob) Wiley, who was kind of a tough matchup for him out on the perimeter, so I think that was little bit hard for him, since he's used to being more in the paint as a rim protector. But I think it was a good test for him, and for me, guarding him, because he's a really good big who can play inside and out. So I think it was good for both of us.

Q: Do you see Ike continuing to distribute at the rate he did tonight?
EK: I think offensively he did some good things. He should be able to distribute, because he understands the system. The thing he needs to get better at is the mental part on the defensive because he allowed breakdowns on the floor that we just can't have happen with a veteran player like that. But I was really pleased with the way he shared the ball offensively.

Q: What did you see from Izundu and what do you envision his role being?
EK: I want to say this the right way. In a sense, it was good that we didn't have Conor (Clifford), because it would have been hard for Conor and Val to play in that game, because the players were so small. That's what happens in exhibition games, and sometimes even in the preseason games. You don't matchup well with teams, because you're big, and typically they'll put five guards or five ball handlers on the floor and it's going to be hard for a guy like Val or Conor to play away from the basket. That's not their forte. I'm just happy that he was able to get in the game, get some of the jitters out. Here's a guy who hasn't played in two years. I thought he handled himself well, even though he didn't have a big guy, per se, just to lean on and stay in the paint. He had to get out on the perimeter and guard at times. Overall, I'm pleased with him but he's also going to see some things on tape that he can get better at. And I would hope that, in time, he would be a really good shot blocker on the back line. I like the way he can make his free throws and I like the way he can catch and dunk. But  we didn't get him the ball in very good positions on the floor and that had to do with, again, their lineup and what they had on the floor.

Q: When do you expect Conor back?
EK: He'll see the doctor again on Monday. He's doing some things already in the pools and everything's responding well. He has a strained knee. I'm hoping to get him back sometime in the next couple weeks.



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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