Kent goes one-on-one with CF.C

LONG BEFORE ARRIVING to WSU, Ernie Kent had some major influences on his coaching career. This includes current and former coaches. However, Kent, one of 10 brothers and sisters, said his parents also taught him the value of "the grind" and that's what he hopes to instill in his Cougar players in 2014-15 and beyond. Kent spoke with CF.C about that and more in this one-on-one interview.

Ernie Kent is straight and he is to the point. The Cougar head man spoke at length with CF.C on Thursday afternoon about a variety of topics, including his major influences, what he's looking for in his third and final assistant coach and more.

Who are some of your greatest coaching influences and why?

"Obviously Dick Harter, who I played for at Oregon, because he was a coach that taught you how hard you had to work to be successful. So many of us who played in that program are successful in our lives today because of him. Boyd Grant, who I worked for at Colorado State. Here's a guy that I think is one of the more underrated coaches in the country because of what he's accomplished with his defense and he's a very up-tempo coach as well.

"Mike Montgomery who I worked for at Stanford is another guy who is just an offensive guru that really understood the game. I think a lot of the things I do offensively, I pulled from Mike Montgomery from my two years I worked with him. I love the way Kansas played when Roy Williams was there and I loved the way Kansas played with Bill Self. I also thought highly of Nolan Richardson at Arkansas. There was a number of coaches I looked at and sooner or later you kind of have to step away and come up with your own style and philosophy, but all those people I just mentioned certainly contributed to it."

I understand you come from a family of 10 brothers and sisters. With this, what was the biggest influence your parents had on you growing up?

"Well with a family of 10, with seven boys and three girls, number one you learned how to fight (laugh), I can tell you that right now. Number two I think my parents taught me how hard you have to work to be successful. I had a mother and father who spent 25 and 27 years working in factories. You saw that as a kid growing up and you now understand how to grind. I think that's one of the big things now days that young people don't know how to do. They kind of want to jump around from job to job because they want that instant gratification, where someone in our generation, we understand how to grind.

"I grinded for 20 years to get back into the chair at the University of Oregon. In 13 years, you become the winningest coach in the school. You get out there and you grind for four more years of TV to get another job and now you're the head coach at Washington State University. We're going to be here for a long time, we're going to grind and hopefully have a tremendous amount of success."

In your introductory press conference, you said ‘My teams play defense.' Give me a thumbnail of your defensive philosophy.

"We will be a team that will press you on and off, full court. Sometimes it will be an aggressive press and sometimes it will be kind of soft, what we call a ‘pester press.' We'll also play you man-to-man. With the new rules, where fouls are called at a much higher rate, it will be kind of a containment defense.

"Lastly, with the matchup zone, we play a couple of different ones, but we're really good at understanding what we're doing and how to teach it. It's an effective defense because you can have two guys guarding the ball, which takes away any drive lanes or penetration and it leaves teams limited to just jump shooting."

Why did you choose Sylvie Dominguez over some other names out there as your defensive guy?

"Sylvie and I were at St. Mary's together when we built that program and we were one of the best defensive teams in the conference and even in the country. A lot of it was the matchup zone and being able to switch back and forth between man-to-man and matchup.

"Him and I were both together at Colorado State with Boyd Grant and we learned it ourselves and brought it with us to St. Mary's. He's an outstanding teacher and he's one of the best recruiters in the country because he's done this for more than 28 years. He's had the opportunity to build a lot of contacts."

For assistant coaches, you have Greg Graham (offensive) and Sylvie Dominguez (defensive). What are you looking for in your third assistant coach hire? Is there a timeline to make a hire?

"I'm looking for a good fit for my staff. I think it's extremely important because you want your team to be in harmony and flow together, and your staff needs to be the same way. First and foremost I'm looking for someone who fits who we are and understands how hard we work with our focus, drive and determination. If I can find that, they'll obviously have to have the ability to recruit as well.

"There is no timeline (to make hire). We have enough on board right now between the three of us to run this basketball program for right now, but there will come a point and time where I'll need to get it done. I would say within the next week to 10 days."

Is there a Coug you've met with or seen workout that you've been impressed with?

"I've been impressed with all of them when it comes to their character. It's very difficult for young people to have the resolve that this team has shown when you talk about the losing and having to come back and practice hard and continue to fight. I don't think there was a game where they just flat out quit in. They were highly competitive in terms of their effort and energy.

"When you have a player like DaVonte Lacy, who has the ability to shoot the ball and score in so many different ways, that's a nice luxury for a coach to come into a program with. He's a guy who can go out and get you automatic points night in and night out."

Other than DaVonte, is there another guy who you expect to be a big contributor for you next season?

"Until you get the opportunity to get guys to workout and do things, then you'll have a better understanding. When you get your roster together completely, you'll be able to have a better idea too. Having just got the job, there's so much more we need to do from an evaluation process to be able to say there's another guy who will be able to do this and do that for us."

What do you expect out of your players? Seems like discipline is pretty big for you.

"Discipline is just doing your job and knowing your job. I'm not this taskmaster that holds a big stick over someone's head. They know they need to go to class, they know the importance of academics and they know they need to graduate from college. That's something that comes from good parenting to begin with.

"My job is to make sure as a team we set standards and then hold them to those standards as well. On the floor, it's know your job and do your job. We have a great teaching staff and in our environment, if you give anything less than an A (effort), you're probably going to be in a dogfight in a ball game. If you're giving a B (effort), you're going to be beat. We need to teach our kids to give an A or A-plus every game."

When a new coach comes in, there tends to be some attrition. Has there been any attrition? Do you expect any?

"I haven't been here long enough for there to be any, but I think right now they all have a twinkle in their eye and I have a twinkle in mine. We're both excited that we're together and get the opportunity to work."

Do you anticipate class of 2014 signees Tramaine Isabell and Jermaine Morgan to wear Cougar uniforms next season?

"Yes I do."

What would you say is your biggest goal during your first season as head coach at Washington State?

"I think the biggest thing is we need to establish the relevancy and make sure people understand this is going to be a tough place to play and a tough team to play against. I think if you can do that, the winning will take care of itself."

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