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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ernie Kent previews the Pac-12 tournament

Here's what Ernie Kent said at his media availability on Tuesday.

(Can these two teams still surprise each other after two close games?)

Probably another (close game), because I even look back to the last game last year was an overtime game, and then close at our place, and then a double-overtime game. We matchup with each other really well. So I think it will be another of those knock-down, drag-out games.

(Does playing in a tournament earlier in the year help the younger players adjust?)

I think the more awe factor they can have, the better it is for them. Because, what we've been through this year, particularly the second half of the season and everything, anything that can elevate their energy would be a good thing. Not having a lot of success to keep coming back and battling hard, practicing hard, not getting any rewards. So this is kind of the reward, coming down here, this awe factor. To be fin Vegas. That's why I've always thought it was a good thing to have this tournament. I'm one of the ones who really pushed to get it back and was always in favor of it. When you're going through a year like we went through, these kids know that this now becomes their postseason. It's their one-and-done environment; this is it for them.

(Having a week off make it easier for the players to put regular season behind them?)

You know, with young people, we take it harder. We take it more personal. I'm the one that's losing all the sleep. I don't know if they're losing too much sleep. So, in terms of resetting, I think it does in some sense because you can kind of put the regular season to rest and realize you're in a zero-zero environment. Everybody's the same. Everybody's needing wins. Even those teams that are in the NCAA tournament probably need wins to strengthen their seeding or whatever. So, with that all said, it's good to put the season over here and come back and say, OK, we're a veteran team now. We've been through a whole season. There's no more new guys. Everybody should know what they're capable of doing and hopefully rise up and play a different kind of game this time around.

(Josh Scott didn't play in your last matchup with Colorado. What does he give the Buffaloes?)

I think he gives them great confidence because you can get those numbers night in and night out from a guy like that. He runs the floor extremely well, which puts pressure on you, and he's a good defender down there. He blocks shots and causes problems, so I'm hoping we can neutralize that between Josh Hawkinson and Conor Clifford. Hopefully get a 1-2 punch that can kind of make him have to defend a little more.

(How was the offense able to improve for your last game, against Washington?)

I just think in that game we were able to free up and play a little bit freer. I noticed the emotion was a little bit different, being that it was a rivalry game and everything else. So I'm hoping that carries over. We've actually played pretty good ball, offensively. We've hit some points in time in the season where we hit the wall a couple times, at different points, but outside of that scoring hasn't really been a problem. It's been defensively that's been the problem, and I feel like we've gotten better in that area, although Washington there was nothing we could do with Andrews. We kind of locked everybody else up, but we didn't have an answer for him.

(Did you give the team much time off this week?)

I gave them a couple days off and we've been at it against since Saturday. Gave them Thursday, Friday off, practiced Saturday, Sunday. We took it easy on Monday, took it easy today in an effort to hopefully have three or four games in a row here.

(Everybody healthy?)

It's probably the best it's been all year long, in terms of no ankle injuries, no cold bugs, nobody's got a concussion and everybody seems to be in good spirits.

(How will you handle rotations in the tournament setting?)

I think for us, it really is once you get into the game I'll know more about rotations, because you see who can handle themselves. The good thing about so many rotations is, once we hit a stretch where we were struggling to win games, we had a chance for everybody to get valuable minutes as you look ahead for this team and everything. I don't know how much I'll be going down past nine, 10 or 11 in these games, but certainly I feel like we have the bench there where if we're fortunate enough to win some of these games and move forward, we have the depth now where guys have played, they've started, they've played major minutes – where we should be one of those teams where if you're able to have some success, handle yourselves for four games without getting too worn out, because of our numbers.

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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