KENT: Burn the tape and order up more Hawk

PULLMAN–After falling to TCU by 27 points, does first-year WSU coach Ernie Kent spend a lot of time using that loss as a teaching moment for his youth-laden roster? “You burn that film,” Kent said. Okay, that seems pretty clear, thanks coach. There haven’t been many bright spots in the Wazzu’s 0-2 start but one of them has been Josh Hawkinson. And WSU fans are going to see more of him.

Hawkinson, a sophomore forward, leads the team in blocks and rebounding so far this season. He recorded his first double-double at TCU on Monday. Kent said he may tweak the starting lineup for Idaho State this Friday (Pac-12 Networks, 6 p.m.) and that starting five is likely to include Hawkinson, presumably in place of Jordan Railey.

“I think Josh Hawkinson has played extremely well and it’s time for him to step into the starting lineup because I think it’s very important that we get off to a better start in games at scoring the ball,” Kent said. “He is somebody that has shown some consistency at scoring, so I’m going to give that a look and see what that looks like.

Another early bright spot for the Cougars: the performance of freshman point guard Ny Redding.

Out of the four new faces who have played this season, Redding has from this chair played the best with seven assists, shooting four of seven from the field.

“You didn’t know which one was going to handle being away from home in a new environment, new system, new academics, new friends...new competition,” Kent said. “He (Redding) seems to be the one out of that group that has handled things well…he’s done a great job off the floor. He’s kind of got all that figured out right now and now he’s starting to figure out the basketball part.”

Heading into Idaho State, the Cougs can’t dwell on the blowout loss to TCU -- the biggest thing, Kent said, is to move forward. And woulda coulda shoulda’s don’t help either.

“You could’ve jumped out of the gate, been at home, and jumped out feeling pretty good about yourself,” said Kent, “which would’ve been a good thing confidence-wise with your team (but then) ran into a team (like UTEP or TCU) down the road that was going to expose (shortcomings).”

Like what?

“‘Hey you need to get tougher in the paint, you’ve got to rebound the ball better,’” Kent said. “If there’s a positive out of the weekend, you got that (exposed weakness) right out of the gate and you need to go back and go to work on it.”

Kent said this week has been about adjusting further. With senior guard and leading scorer DaVonte Lacy hitting six of 22 shots from the field and redshirt senior guard Dexter Kernich-Drew only taking seven shots in two games, it’s obvious there’s still work to be done learning Kent’s system.

“I think all the players are struggling (with picking up the system),” Kent said. “Maybe they wouldn’t struggle as much if we could’ve gotten rolling on some teams and put up 80-90 points and everybody’s in more of a groove, but the fact that you have to go out in such a tough environment against two really good defensive teams as well too, it kind of knocked everybody back on their heels.”

That includes Que Johnson as well as Lacy and Kernich-Drew, Kent said. This week has been about trying to get those three and others back on their “A” game, especially Lacy.

Kent wants those three plus Ike Iroegbu to take more shots. Johnson and Iroegbu combined for 27 combined FG attempts on the Texas road trip.

“All of those guys have to be more of what I would call “attack mode” and on their “A” game for us to have some success this season with this team and system,” Kent said. “They’re all capable of it, so I’m hoping that they bounce back again this week so we can play a lot better.”

Beyond the shooting woes, it seemed an even bigger issue that the Cougars were outrebounded by such a degree. WSU allowed an ungodly 32 offensive rebounds in the two games.

“I see teams are really strong and physical, I see teams that really dominate us in the three spot in terms of rebounding the basketball even they have big guards that rebound the basketball,” Kent said. “I see a focus where we need to be focused and locked in on a possession by possession basis to keep people away from the glass.

“It’s going to be an interesting thing for this team, where they go - because we’ve given teams..a blueprint, we’ve got to do a much better job of keeping people of the boards because when you can do that, you can certainly run them.”

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