Film study for Cougs, but not of basketball

PULLMAN — Ernie Kent as a TV analyst watched No. 12 Utah develop in recent years from an inexperienced team into a growing Pac-12 power. Could Kent’s study of the Utes pay dividends for the Cougs on Wednesday? Meanwhile, Kent said the Cougars needed most on Monday to recharge their batteries and the best way to do that was to study some film -- but not film on basketball.

Despite a short week and a road game vs. the No. 12 Utes, Ernie Kent said he would not hold a practice on Monday. After Thursday's overtime win over Oregon where the Cougs were running all night long, Kent said the signs of fatigue in Saturday’s loss to Oregon State were obvious.

“For us right now it’s about cold pools, rehab, rest — managing their energy level,” Kent said. “With it being Dr. King’s birthday we’re going take today as a team outing and go see the movie, ‘Selma.’ That’s how we’re going to get ready to go to Salt Lake and play that game because it’s important for us to do that together.

“It’s important for them to understand why this day is important so we’re going to step away from basketball for a minute. We’ll do a little bit in the weight room but we need to get our energy back. We need to get more of our passion and commitment for each other and this will really help.”

Kent said he doesn't expect any major surprises from Utah after serving as an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks and Fox Sports Net in the years before he landed the job at Washington State.

“You know all their personnel extremely (well). They’re coming off of a loss, they need to get going again. It’s going to be an incredible college basketball environment. We’re going to have to be really on our game, very similar to (UW and Oregon outings to) have any kind of chance of winning that game.”

Utah is led by senior guard Delon Wright (15 ppg, 4.5 assists, 5.8 rebounds). Despite two wins in the past three games, the Cougars have struggled to contain the opponent’s leading scorer.

“Delon Wright has the ability to affect the game more than those guards because he can affect both ends of the floor,” Kent said. “Probably the closest guy to him is (Joseph) Young because Young can disrupt you on the defensive end and get steals. But Delon Wright — most great players and I’m talking college and NBA, they have the ability to anticipate the game on the offensive end of the floor. They can see the play before the play develops.”

Kent then brought up basketball greats Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.

“I’m not saying he’s (Wright) those guys but he has the ability to anticipate both ends of the floor,” Kent said. “He can change the game or dominate the game on the defensive end — steals, blocks as well as he can on the offensive end — drives, scoring and dishing the ball. So it becomes a matchup nightmare.”

Junior Brett Boese (pictured above) has seen his minutes increase -- he’s averaged around 30 minutes the past three games. But Kent said he wants Boese coming off the bench instead of in the starting rotation, and less could be more when it comes to Boese.

“He’s perfect where he’s at,” Kent said. “Thirty minutes is probably too much for him and he’s playing 30 minutes maybe because Que Johnson or Dexter Kernich-Drew weren’t on their games. We went more with Brett, but as those guys get consistent…they’ll decrease Brett’s minutes.”

Kent said that Boese should ideally be playing between 20-25 minutes a game.

One of the bright spots in the loss to Oregon State, said Kent, was freshman guard Trevor Dunbar. Kent said he played Dunbar 15 minutes vs. the Beavers because he had fresh legs.

“His time will really be dictated by how Ny Redding plays and how Ike Iroegbu plays because they’re ahead of him — more consistent, they’ve done more… So hopefully when he gets a chance to shine in practice, hopefully he gets an opportunity in the game, he will continue to grow because he could help us… It’s taken him some time to make the adjustment from high school to this level — understanding everything that goes on at this level on and off the floor.”

Dunbar is averaging 4.8 minutes since Pac-12 play began.

“My whole thing with freshman is come at your own pace as long as you come,” Kent said. “He’s starting to come along right now which is good.”

Kent also stated freshman Jackie Davis is in a tough spot for adding minutes since he’s playing behind senior guard DaVonte Lacy, Johnson, Kernich-Drew, Boese and Iroegbu.

Junior forward Aaron Cheatum has also seen his minutes limited due to the strong play of sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson.

“Unfortunately they’re (Davis and Cheatum) just out of the rotation right now,” Kent said.

The Cougars play at No. 12 Utah Wednesday at 6 p.m. PST. WSU then faces Colorado on Saturday at 5 p.m. PST. Both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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