Q&A: WSU Assistant Coach Curtis Allen

The Bootleg's Kevin Danna was able to grab a few minutes with Washington State Assistant Coach Curtis Allen, a former Washington Husky now coaching in Pullman for the Washington State Cougars. Read his takes on our team and his own before their game in the Palouse Thursday night.

The Bootleg: Going into the season, where did you as a staff expect the team to be at in this point of the season?
Curtis Allen: Obviously you expect to be near the top of the league. You go into every game hoping to win it, so to be where we are at is a little disappointing. But we also know that there is a lot of parity in this league and we feel like we are playing better every day. And as long as we keep getting better and we are playing our best basketball in February and early March, then we will be okay.

TB: What signs do you see from your team that you could potentially turn this slow start around?
CA: The guys are playing hard, man. They are practicing hard every day. They kind of have a hunger to want to get better. I think our last couple games we have shown improvement; I think at Colorado we played hard, we played well. We were up most of that game at Washington. And with all that being said, we haven't had one game on our home court yet. So we are excited about where we are headed and obviously we are excited about being home this week. And hopefully we can keep getting better.

TB: You mentioned not having home games. What was it like starting off the conference season playing in Spokane, a couple of hours away from campus?
CA: It was okay. It was a great crowd - we had a lot of support, a lot of Cougars came out and supported us. So from that aspect, it was good. It was good to get up there and play in front of our fans in Spokane.

TB: In the Washington game, your zone harassed the hell out of the Huskies in the first half before the Dawgs figured it out in the second. What was the difference in the two halves for you defensively?
CA: I think Washington made some pretty good adjustments and they were able to attack it a little more efficiently in the second half. I think in the first half, we were a little more active. We got a little tired there in the second half and their rebounding really wore us down and really that was what hurt us at the end of the day was the rebounding. They had 20+ offensive rebounds. Whenever you're giving up that many rebounds, it's tough to win.

TB: How much would do you put the rebounding issue on being in the zone for most of the game and how much do you put it on other factors?
CA: I think that's part of it. I think whenever you go zone, it's a little more difficult to rebound just because you don't necessarily have a guy that you are boxing out so I think that's part of it. The other part of it is we just gotta be a little more aggressive, a little more assertive on the glass.  Regardless of what defense we're in, we gotta have a willingness to fight on the glass and I think Washington had that and I don't think we really fought as hard as we could on the glass, so we gotta keep getting better at that.

TB: Last thing on that Washington game. Coach Bone took a pretty big spill trying to call a timeout in the second half; did you guys razz him about it at all after the game?
CA: *Laughs* A little bit, a little bit. We had a few laughs about it. He's a good sport about it. It was a funny situation, and thankfully he was ok, which allowed us to laugh about it a little bit.

TB: Let's move over to personnel. Reggie Moore has always been a very good passer, but now he leads the conference in assists. What improvements has he made in the point guard role for you guys?
CA: Reggie is a great playmaker with his ability to drive and also see the court at the same time makes him a very good point guard in this league. Not only that, he has the willingness to find his teammates and his teammates love playing with him because of his ability to pass. And almost to a fault, there are times where he should probably be looking to score a little more but again, he's always thinking of getting his teammates involved, and I think that's part of the reason why he is leading the conference in assists.

TB: One of his teammates who is getting really involved in the offense is Brock Motum, who is perhaps the most improved player in the conference from a stats standpoint. Has the boost in scoring average been primarily due to not having to share time with De'Angelo Casto or anyone else, or has his game taken that much of a jump between his sophomore and junior year?
CA: I feel it's a little bit of both. Now that he's out there a little more and we're going to him a little more, and he's a very skilled forward at 6'9'', and now with his increased playing time, he is allowed to showcase a little bit more of his talents and skills. And Brock is good, man, he works hard on his game and hopefully he can continue to get better.

TB: It looks like he's gotten a lot tougher and stronger this year. Has he put on some weight from the previous year to bulk up?
CA: Yeah, I think so. He has put in the work in the weight room and has worked really hard at improving his body and improving his strength. He's not overly athletic, so it's important for him to be strong and to play strong, and I think he addressed that in the offseason.

TB: You start one freshman in DaVonté Lacy, a guy who has a lot of confidence in his shot and is third on the team in scoring. He primarily came off the bench to begin the season, but did you kind of foresee him taking over that starting spot from Faisal Aden as the season wore on?
CA: We'll see. He's doing a good job. Both he and Faisal are good players. I think they're both capable of starting for us. I think it'll obviously come down to practice and how hard guys are working and I think that will determine who will ultimately keep that spot. But we're confident with both DaVonté and Faisal at that spot, I think they're both talented players and I think they do a good job.

TB: You have Stanford coming up tomorrow. Tell me about what you see in the Cardinal that has propelled them to a strong start.
CA: More than anything, they're a great team. I think they play together on both ends. Offensively, they run a lot of different sets and they execute their stuff well. And they play together - it doesn't seem like they really care who gets the credit; it's more about them winning as a team. And you can say the same thing on the defensive end; they really help each other out defensively. They're a big team- a big, strong team with some athleticism. And then they have the ability to shoot the ball; their guards can really shoot it. And I think obviously Aaron Bright has really turned it on this year and that has helped them out a great deal.

TB: There are a couple of Washington guys on the Stanford team, one of whom you just mentioned in Aaron Bright and also John Gage, a couple of guys that you guys recruited. What made them viable prospects for Washington State?
CA: For John, just his ability and his size to shoot. That's always a unique skill, when you're that size, and whenever you can get a guy like that, you're always gonna go after him. And with Aaron, I think he's a confident guard with the ability to shoot it. He has a great handle, and I think he'll be one of the better point guards moving forward in the next couple of years. So both of those guys are really good players, and Stanford is lucky to have ‘em.

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