HOOPS: A frustrated Ernie Kent after Cougs show little energy or urgency in Washington State's 88-76 loss to San Jose State

PULLMAN – Washington State returned home after a trip to the Virgin Islands but struggled to take advantage of any opportunities the Beasley hardcourt may have offered Sunday in an 88-76 loss to San Jose State. A frustrated Ernie Kent wasn’t in the mood to go in search of any silver linings after the Cougs failed to put up much of a fight in front of a sparse home crowd.

"This is not about a stat sheet, as I've told them I'd be disappointed if they picked up a stat sheet," Kent said. "This has to do with the raw emotion of being here (when) nobody is around, not a lot of energy on campus… So what? Come together, let's play."
Instead, San Jose State came together, as the Cougs were unable to clamp down on defense, win the battle on the boards or win either half on the scoreboard.  WSU shot 37 percent for the game and was outrebounded 50-39 (and 15-11 on the offensive end). SJSU hit 46 percent of its shots against the Cougars.

But Kent wasn’t as concerned with the numbers per se after the loss dropped WSU to 3-3, but rather the root cause.

"It has more to do with energy, drive, passion, all those types of things," Kent said.
Indeed, Washington State fell flat in the ghost town that was Beasley Coliseum as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend wrapped up. An unofficial attendance estimate: less than 400 were on hand. The official attendance wasn’t announced over the public address system but the official box score read 2,317, apparently the number of tickets sold.
Kent didn’t make it a big point of emphasis after the game but it was clear from his comments the small crowd didn't help a team that needs help. There was a decided lack of energy on the court on Sunday.  The Cougar players after the game recognized the student body was still returning to campus from the holiday. But they didn’t have any answers for the lackluster play.

"I just don’t think we had a sense of urgency, any type of energy, and didn't play together as a team,” senior forward Josh Hawkinson said.

Senior guard Charles Callison, who shot 4 for 11, agreed.

"Once we find a sense of urgency, we'll go from there," he said, unsure of why they couldn’t on Sunday.

When asked if the lack of energy was due to the lack of a crowd, true freshman guard Malachi Flynn took time to consider the question
“We just have to play with the conditions we have, and if we win, people will come out," Flynn said.

Flynn (pictured above in an earlier game this season) was one of the few bright spots for the Cougs in scoring 18 points, second to only Hawkinson’s 19.  Flynn was 5 of 7 from the field including 3 of 4 from downtown. But “rebuilding” continues to be the watchword most associated with the 2016 squad in the early part of this season.
In a game where Ike Iroegbu, Flynn and Hawkinson each played 34 minutes or more, the Cougs idled along as they were steadily out-performed by San Jose State (2-3). WSU trailed for nearly 30 minutes in the game, with its largest lead all of three points coming early in the first half.   San Jose State meanwhile, forged its largest lead, 16, with 3:28 remaining in the contest.
"It was just one of (those) nights, shots weren’t falling… we've got to get back into our rhythm again," said Callison after WSU connected on 23 of 63 shots from the floor.
The players also offered a similar refrain in the short post game presser: Back to the gym we go. What else could they say? It was obvious they were upset with their play both individually and as a team.
It wasn’t as if San Jose State was overlooked by the players or coaches, Kent added. Kent said film preparation included watching SJSU’s game vs. Saint Mary’s (where Kent once coached) and that SJSU stuck right with Saint Mary’s for a half.  That, Kent said, pointed to a well-coached team and a challenge. And as it turned out, a double-digit defeat.
The Cougs have a three-game stretch upcoming against Utah Valley, New Orleans and Idaho. After that, three final non conference opponents:  K-State, Santa Clara and Sac State.  On Jan. 1, the Cougars begin Pac-12 play with Washington first up.
If ever there was ever a time for Kent and crew to find that sense of urgency, it’s here and now.

Flynn, Hawkinson, Callison and Kent:

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