Kent keeping GU prep hidden from Few's view

PULLMAN— Washington State has already bent over backwards for Gonzaga, bowing to Mark Few's demand to play two of three games in Spokane or they'd kill the WSU-GU series. Ernie Kent on Tuesday made it plan he didn't have any interest in helping Few out any further heading into Wednesday night's game in Spokane.

Ernie Kent on Tuesday declined to talk about anything that could conceivably give Gonzaga and Few (pictured above) any kind of edge.

“I cannot tell you that,” Kent said when asked about how he plans to structure his lineup around Gonzaga’s size. “He (Few) does not need any help from me. He is an excellent basketball coach, I want to be careful with anything we do because I have no idea what exactly what we’re going to do yet. I’ll have that figured out by this afternoon though.”

But he won't be sharing it.

The Cougars head to Spokane on Wednesday to meet No. 8 Gonzaga at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

The reason Wednesday's game is being played at Spokane Arena rather than Pullman, after the 2013 meeting was held at the McCarthy Center, is because Few and Gonzaga AD Mike Roth threatened to kill the series unless Bill Moos capitulated to a 2-for-1 deal. The "take it or leave it" proposition from Gonzaga was that it had to be three-game deal and with two of the games in Spokane: one on Gonzaga's home floor, another at the "neutral site" of the Spokane Arena, with the last game in Pullman during the 2015-16 season.

Meanwhile, Kent on Tuesday said this year's Bulldogs team has no weaknesses.

“They’re loaded,” Kent said. “I feel like I’ve known Mark for some time now and (I’ve) watched his teams from afar for some time too, and what I see again is an excellent basketball team. I’ve said it’s his best team he’s had because they’ve got depth, they've got size, they can shoot it. They can beat you inside, they can beat you outside.

Kent went on to laud Gonzaga's defense, their continuity and team identity.

Coming off Saturday's 20-point win over UTSA, Kent said the Cougs had their best Monday practice of the year so far. They'll need it, being a 23 1/2 point underdog to Gonzaga.

“Mondays teams…tend to be a little bit stagnant (in the past) and yesterday was an excellent practice... a team that played with a lot of energy and practiced with a lot of confidence," said Kent.

Kent said the Cougs (4-4) may have reached one of the maturation points he's been looking for.

“They’re just growing up and they’re feeling more confident as they try to find out exactly who they are,” Kent said. “We’re still in the process of determining ... our identity - who we are as a basketball team... the next step for us now is we’re getting ready to step up on a platform that is going to force us to grow and that’s a good thing.”

If an upset is in the cards, the Cougs need to up their shooting percentages - WSU is shooting 40.4 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent from long range. Against UTSA on Saturday, WSU hit on 60.8 percent overall, and 60 percent of their treys.

“You’re going to have to play on a higher level and that’s a good thing for this team right now,” Kent said.

Redshirt sophomore guard Que Johnson is a player for whom that would be a welcome sight. Against UTSA, Johnson finished the game with four points and shot one-of-six from the field.

“He is a big time scorer that has not shot the ball well (nor) played well consistently,” Kent said. “He was the one guy last week in the game (against UTSA) that probably was not on his game.”

Kent did note a positive to the Cougs playing a second straight game in Spokane.

“At least in this environment there will be some Cougs colors in the stands that you will be able to look at so you won’t feel like you’re totally out in an environment by yourself,” Kent said. “It’s an hour up the road...if you are a player you get excited and you get up to play in this environment.”

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