Bill Moos perpetuated another coup yesterday, an off court victory that previous athletic directors might have considered outside of their reach, but for the second time, Moos offered Ernie Kent the reins.
Fans in Pullman often forget ourselves; we forget that we root for a team that’s leader holds what might be the most difficult job in major college basketball. WSU might as well put Hickory on their jerseys when playing the South Bends of Arizona and UCLA. Winning at Beasily is difficult, it takes a certain hubris and a devotion to creativity to accomplish, but Ernie Kent is our type of mad man.
Kent takes on a building project that is less desperate than his last. Prior to Kent (whose previous post at St. Mary’s included winning the regular and tournament championships in the WCC the last time that Gonzaga won neither), Oregon had not won a conference title since the second World War, and had only made the tournament three times in that time. His dismissal from Eugene was likely premature, but we’ll take it, and Kent will not be the first Willamette Valley cast off to find glory in Pullman, as astute Coug will remember.
Kent’s success at Oregon went against the mediocre hoops legacy at Oregon. He brought them back from a drought, he found victories where optimism was guarded at best. Now is our chance, it is time to abandon the pessimism rampant in Cougar land, and step behind a hoops team that is certainly ready for building.
What is most exciting is that the pieces are in place for wins early. Players like DaVonte Lacy and Que Johnson (along with incoming freshman Tremaine Isabell) are reminiscent of the guards that lead Kent’s teams at Oregon. He has some of his required parts in place, and he will work around what he does not currently possess.
On November 29, the same day that Connor Halliday is eliminating the Huskies from bowl consideration, the Cougs will be playing in the title game of the Great Alaskan Shoot Out. Duke eliminators Mercer will be the toughest competition in that tournament as the Cougs are the only major conference team traveling to Anchorage next year.
So Hickory fans, hold hope high, as our Coach Dale has arrived, and Jimmy Chitwood is around here somewhere. Ernie Kent will bring the Cougs to a place of intrigue over the summer and could wander into Pac-12 play with a respectable resume, and then who knows? We have something now that did not exist a month ago, call it a quiet confidence. The players were there, but as we all know they were without a rudder. Today, we have direction, and for that we can thank Moos.