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PULLMAN – Washington State will open its men’s basketball season on the road for the first time since 2006 as first-year coach Ernie Kent takes the Cougars on a two-game Texas swing before next Friday’s home opener. Tonight, the Cougars will tip off the 2014-15 season at Texas-El Paso in Kent’s first official game as a head coach since his dismissal at Oregon following the 2010 season. The Cougars will then travel to TCU for Monday’s game against the Horned Frogs.
PULLMAN – It’s a process, as new Cougars head basketball coach Ernie Kent likes to say. That process started slowly Friday night as Washington State won a scrappy game 88-74 over Azusa Pacific at Friel Court. In Kent’s first game as WSU coach, defense and early missed layups plagued the Cougars as they allowed the Azusa Pacific Cougars to hang around for a healthy portion of the second half. Eventually “small ball” won the game for WSU, Kent said.
1 Keep Lacy healthy. A burst appendix, broken ribs and two separate knee injuries have kept Washington State’s best player off the court the past two seasons. Lacy led the Cougars with 19.4 points per game – which would have ranked second in the league if only injuries hadn’t prevented him from reaching the minimum number of games played. He drew most if not all of the opposing defense’s attention, so if new coach Ernie Kent is going to be able to improve an offense that ranked dead-last in the conference in points per game he’s going to need Lacy on the floor, not at the trainer’s table.
PULLMAN – The fact Ernie Kent is even at Washington State means that he has a tall task ahead of him to make the Cougars a competitive team. If the team hadn’t sunk to a level where it barely reached double-digit wins, then his old friend, athletic director Bill Moos, would never have come calling, and Kent would still be watching WSU games as an analyst for the Pac-12 networks. But the losses piled up, Beasley Coliseum started to look like Beasley Mausoleum and Moos went out in search of a rainmaker, who could bring wins eventually and excitement and fans right now. Enter Kent, a coach whose top priority is to simply inject some confidence into a program that hasn’t finished higher than eighth in the conference since the 2010-2011 season.
@ JacobThorpeSR (Ernie) Kent said that every player he’s brought into the program has to be able to make the difference in a game this year. @JacobThorpeSR The basketball coaches at the two Washington schools have combined for 236 league wins. All other Pac-12 coaches combined for 279.
SAN FRANCISCO – DaVonte Lacy’s Farewell Tour began in front of rows of reporters at Pac-12 Network Studios, who gave the Pac-12’s best scorer a laugh when he compared his nascent post game to Shaq’s and then retired to the rooftop for tri-tip sandwiches and Brie. The upcoming season will be about new beginnings for the Cougars but last chances for their senior star, who is running out on time for lofty goals that would typically be mundane expectations for a player of his caliber.
SAN FRANCISCO – Maybe they didn’t see the USA Today poll of college basketball coaches that ranked Arizona No. 2 and no other Pac-12 school, or maybe they didn’t get the collusion memo. Perhaps, as posited by former USC coach Kevin O’Neil, they were simply “drunk that day.”