Basketball

As COVID-19 Spreads, Coach Smith Reflects on Colorado Win, Talks Future for the Program

It is certainly a weird (and sad) time to be a sports fan right now during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Sports are cancelled, schools are cancelled, and now jobs are starting to be worked from home.

As of Sunday, President Trump extended the social distancing guidelines until April 30th. But back on the Palouse, head basketball coach Kyle Smith virtually caught up with Matt Chazanow and talked WSU hoops, and much more.

The first topic discussed was how Smith and his fellow coaches and players are adapting to changes going on in life right now. Smith touched on how that this time of the year is the busiest for the team, other than during the season itself. 

Strength and conditioning was originally scheduled to start this week and continue throughout the summer. This coming Monday was supposed to be the start of a four-week strength program.  But unfortunately, the world had different plans.

Smith and his coaching staff have adapted to the new temporary lifestyle, by having Zoom meetings on Mondays and Fridays, as well as virtual meetings with the players during regularly scheduled practice times. Instead of being there to talk to his team and staff, Smith is at home with his wife, and three boys. 

“It would be easy to slip into watching, you know, Tiger King, and other such things on Netflix. By the way, we can chop it up about that if you want,” Smith said to Chazanow. 

Later in the interview, Smith talked about Wazzu’s win against the No. 6 seeded Colorado Buffaloes in the first game of the Pac-12 tourney.

Smith said that it was the first time where the Cougs played their best basketball. The Cougs played with confidence, and a purpose on both sides of the ball, and Smith believed that it was CJ Elleby’s best game of the season. WSU won that game 82-68, and Elleby had a double-double with 30 points and ten rebounds. The next day, the Cougars were slated to play the Arizona State Sun Devils, but the game was cancelled, and then so was the tournament.

Smith then touched on how he would love to have Elleby return for another season, before declaring for the NBA draft. He supports CJ’s decision, no matter what ends up happening, but Smith believes that he can get Elleby more draft-ready after at least one more year with him in Pullman. 

He is very optimistic about the future of his young team. WSU is only losing two seniors, even though they both played a huge role this past year. Smith touched on how the two seniors, Jeff Pollard and Jervae Robinson were big in the team’s maturity and leadership.

Towards the end of the chat, Smith hinted at maybe having a triple-header of the Washington schools in Seattle. If it were to happen, UW, WSU and Gonzaga would be the three teams included.

All in all, with sports at a halt, Coach Smith is adapting to his new, at-home lifestyle, and is eager for his next season at the helm.

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