WSU Basketball: Ernie Kent Focusing on Both Sides of the Ball with Assistant Hires


Feb 23, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks forward Elgin Cook (23) and Washington State Cougars guard DaVonte Lacy (25) fight for a loose ball in the second half at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

You may only know Washington State’s newest head coach Ernie Kent for his reputation for tireless recruiting efforts and his teams’ abilities to put points up in bunches, particularly from the three-point arc. That may not change, both on the court and in your mind, but it’s important to at least acknowledge that one of his first two hires was made for defensive purposes.

Air Force’s assistant coach Silvey Dominguez is known for his defensive mind and will bring toughness to the Cougars on that side of the ball. His particular strength, the matchup zone, also coincides heavily with what the Cougars have been best at the last couple of years (when they were at their best, that is). When he and Kent coached together at St. Mary’s, his teams only gave up about 67 pts per game, while the Falcons gave up about 69 last season.

It was interesting to me to see that the Cougars actually fell into the category of the top 100 defenses in the country in pts per game allowed this past season. Some of that is because their defense is by far their strongest advantage over anybody in this conference, if they have one at all. The other part, of course, is that Ken Bone decided to take the air out of the ball for much of the season to limit possessions. With Ernie Kent’s style of play, that will no longer be an option to limit the opposition, so measures must be taken elsewhere.

Kent’s other hire was Greg Graham (recently coaching at Bradley but has major ties to both Kent and WSU A.D. Bill Moos at Oregon) and he should provide the offensive punch the Cougars have been lacking. Kent refers to Graham as “an offensive guru”, which of course can be traced back to why Oregon was so good with both of them heading up the efforts. This is an exciting hire for Coug fans that watched a completely inept offense these last few seasons.

Speculation at this point can be misplaced, but I think it’s safe to say that Kent wants to bring out the best of what the Cougs have to offer (their defense) while he tries to turnaround the ineffectiveness of the offense. Believe it or not, the Cougs actually have the athletes on the perimeter to play the exact style that Kent wants to play, but the challenge will be changing the mindset to do that while also getting the team to not play recklessly. I’m very interested to see how this transforms.