Mar 12, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars forward Junior Longrus (15) dunks against Stanford Cardinal forward Dwight Powell (33) and forward Josh Huestis (24) during the second half in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Cardinal defeated the Cougars 74-63. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
With basketball season wrapping up and all the excitement of the NCAA Tournament happening, Washington State has named their new head coach and started asking “what is it going to take to revive this program?”
During the Cougars last game vs Stanford in the Pac-12 tourney, an announcer made a very interesting point about college basketball (and quite honestly all college sports). He used Arizona as an example of a program doing it right. He said the success of a college basketball team by everyone outside of the program is measured on the court, but when you look inside those programs, it’s what is happening off the court that makes them so great.
When the Cougars lost Tony Bennett as their head coach, the culture totally changed. Yes, everyone was intrigued with the new coach and everyone loved WSU basketball at the time. We had the up and coming Klay Thompson that everyone was excited to watch and we were promised high paced, high scoring basketball. We had a lot of potential to compete for the Pac-10 title (if you remember, that was actually realistic back then).
The high flying Marcus Capers was throwing in put back jams, Klay was setting records, Aaron Baynes was setting the Aussie obsession at Wazzu, the “Zzu Cru” was one of the toughest crowds to face in the conference and everyone was having fun! it was an exciting time!
As the opportunities were squashed, the offseason became less promising. From the NIT, CBI then finally nothing, the excitement died down. All those (pre game) events started to die down, no one wanted to go so no one wanted to throw them anymore. Basketball stopped being Cougar basketball, no one was making promises of where it was going and where it would be, they were making excuses for why they were, where they were and with that, the passion and the love died in the program.
I think Cougs would all agree, they just want basketball to be fun again. They want to rally around the team, they want to celebrate basketball’s arrival rather than ask “what are we getting into this year?”. Cougs want to see all the pre game activities again, when basketball was an all-day event ended by supporting the team they love.
Shouldn’t it return to when you walked around campus on game day and saw nothing but joy and excitement in the students eyes? Shouldn’t it return to the time where the alumni section was packed before tipoff even though their seats were guaranteed? Everywhere you go around pullman you should see someone sporting a (DaVonte) Lacy jersey or talking about how crazy the game was last night. Basketball season must return to the East side of this state.
With the hiring of Ernie Kent, I believe the majority of Cougs would agree, there is now something to rally around. I believe all Cougars should be excited about this and eventually they will be. Kent is an exciting coach and I always enjoyed watching Oregon when he was the head man. A lot of people will say/have said “we’re getting Oregon’s trash now” or “didn’t he recently get fired(?)” or even “that’s the coach that led Oregon to an 8 win season, why do we want him again(?)”.
Well I’ll tell you, the one thing Washington State needs around this basketball program is excitement and I guarantee Ernie Kent will bring it. The rest is up to the Cougar faithful. Time to rally around this exciting change and make basketball season fun again!