Kent: Coug seniors need a sense of urgency

PULLMAN — With Washington State having lost six of their last seven, Ernie Kent said it's important for his players not to focus on rising Arizona State and No. 7 Arizona. Instead, they need to worry about their own game, to dictate rather than be dictated to. Kent emphasized the Cougs' three seniors must close out their final season on a high note. If not, Kent believes the Cougars will struggle.

With seven regular season games remaining and the Pac-12 Tournament to follow, Ernie Kent said senior guard DaVonte Lacy, redshirt senior guard Dexter Kernich-Drew, and redshirt senior center Jordan Railey should feel a sense of nervousness as their college basketball careers are coming to an abrupt end.

“You’re talking about players that have been in comfort zones of scholarship, travel, meal money, told where to go, when to be there, what to do and all of a sudden boom it’s coming to an end,” Kent said. “There has to be some nervousness there.”

Kent added him and his staff must make sure Lacy, Kernich-Drew and Railey play with confidence and understand how important it is for them to perform down the stretch.

“If we do not do that then that’s a lot of firepower that we don’t have,” Kent said. “If DaVonte is out of whack, Dexter’s out of whack, Jordan’s out of whack in these games it doesn’t matter which game plan we put in, we’re going to struggle in the game.”

On the road against the Oregon schools, Lacy shot a combined six of 24 from the field and Railey was four of eight from the field.

Despite going scoreless against OSU, Kernich-Drew had a strong outing against Oregon hitting six of 14 from the field (four of nine from 3-point range), which helped him tally a season high 18 points. However, Kent said the Australian native still missed out on some plays against the Ducks.

“He was aggressive, but we didn’t get a lot accomplished,” Kent said. “He hit the two big threes, but he also had some plays offensively and defensively we didn’t get a lot done in the first half of the game.”

“I felt like there were drives where he missed layups - he was responsible for (Joseph) Young - we lost him a few times,” Kent said. “With Dex I don’t want to say he didn’t do anything differently because he’s played well in practices as well too. It’s really, have the practices carried over to the games, and has he played as well in the games with the same confidence, courage and firepower that we need out of him? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.”

Kent said he plans to speak with all three seniors today about the final stretch of the season.

Junior guard Brett Boese is another player who hasn't looked as confident in shooting his long-range jumper. In the past four games, he’s shot a combined two of 15 from the field.

“In his case, he misses one or two shots and he starts thinking too much,” Kent said. “There’s so much more he was doing to help us win games - his energy up and down the floor, his blocking out, his rebounding - he allowed us to play small ball because he was in the right place defensively.”

Kent mentioned success for Boese comes when he relaxes and just plays the game.

The Cougars return home this week to play host to the Arizona schools. WSU will play Arizona State Friday night at 8 pm PST.

“I’ve seen a team (Arizona State) that plays really hard, I’m seeing a team that is starting to figure out who they are as an identity having lost Jahii Carson, (Jordan) Bachynski that was a big hit for their program and now they’re starting to figure out how to do some things.”

WSU hosts No.7 Arizona on Sunday at 3:30 PST. The ASU game is televised on the Pac-12 Network, the Arizona game on Fox Sports 1.

Washington State is asking fans to ‘Gray Out’ Beasley when Wazzu plays Arizona on Sunday.

“Both of these games this weekend are going to be extremely tough games for us because the personnel in both of them will present problems,” Kent said. “Arizona State... they controlled tempo, played hard, knocked down big shots (vs. Arizona). If we get that same team and we’re not ready to match their intensity, their energy, their confidence we’ll struggle in the game.”

Kent also stated the Cougs can’t be looking ahead to Arizona until the final horn sounds Friday night.

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