Washington State basketball is the Pac-12 cellar’s runner-up, and it doesn’t look like the needle will waver much come the latter half of the season. Head Coach Ernie Kent did, however, offer a three-pronged blueprint for his squad’s improvement Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
“Those three areas are things that we can control. Taking care of the ball, blocking out, and taking good shots. Normally speaking, when we do that, we are in any ball game,” Kent said. “If we don’t do it right, those are the things that are separating us in the game.”
Taking care of the ball is a no brainer, but it does need to be said as WSU averages nearly 13 per game. Thirteen turnovers isn’t egregiously bad, but more often than not the Cougar are handing out easy transition buckets due to their inability to get back on defense Kent said.
These bad turnovers don’t always show up on the stat sheet though. Outside of Robert Franks senior leadership, every player on this roster is guilty in one way or another for forcing ill-advised shots. A crippling act in the eyes of their head man.
“A bad shot can be like a turnover” Kent said. “They get the rebound, come flying back down the floor, and you do not get the chance to set your defense.”
Mitigating bad turnovers and shots will be key to any ounce of WSU’s success particularly on the road. Kent said these falters routinely energize a home crowd.
Kent’s point of blocking out and rebounding, rather, appeared to be geared more toward his point guards than any other position. WSU averages almost 33 boards per contest, which is right on par with that of Pac-12 frontrunner Washington.
Moving past the face value of a stat sheet, Kent was more focused the byproduct of mitigating athleticism in regard to blocking out and controlling the glass- a weight he puts on the guards along with many others.
Kent estimates it takes about a year for a point guard in his system to fully comprehend, understand, and execute the ins-and-outs of their duties. Notably, junior guards Jervae Robinson and Ahmed Ali are both amid their first season under Kent. Senior Viont’e Daniels, in his fourth season with Kent, is posting numbers no better than the previously mentioned duo.
“It’s the consistency piece that I continue to look for at both ends of the floor. Who can be a lockdown defender, who can run a team at the other end of the floor, and who can get their points as well,” Kent said.
Washington State travels this week battling Arizona State Thursday (5 p.m., PACN) and Arizona Saturday (4:30 p.m., PACN).
Kent’s weekly presser to its entirety can be found in the video above.