Washington State’s men’s basketball team lost its fifth straight game last night and head coach Ernie Kent had choice words for his players afterwards. The Cougars' backslide after a 2-0 start in conference play continued at home against Arizona with a 78-59 loss.
Kent, displeased with his team’s mental approach, launched into a postgame rant before taking questions from reporters. He complained about how players respond to losing, their in-game focus and the team’s lack of accountability.
"At some point in time losing has to become so painful to them that they change the trajectory of their season and this program," Kent said in his postgame press conference. "And I don’t think it’s there yet."
He continued in that vein, talking about how if players don’t see the need for changes after a loss they aren’t going to improve. This was a message I remember hearing from Mike Leach almost weekly during the football team’s dreadful 2014 season. A "culture" of losing was ingrained in players, and the team wouldn’t start winning games until the players took a different approach.
Kent made sure to note that he thinks talent isn’t the problem with this team; instead he pointed fingers at his players' mentality. But who is responsible for coaching players on how to approach the game and to improve from losses? Kent recruited all but two of the players on this roster, and has spent hundreds of practices with all of them. He too is responsible for this mess.
The root of the problem lies with an issue that Kent won’t discuss, however. This team doesn’t have the talent up and down the roster to compete in the Pac-12. Yes, they’ve kept it close with heavyweights like UA and UCLA for 30 minutes, but can never close the deal. The starting lineup is talented, but there isn’t much behind that. The bench is thin and the starters don’t have the legs to compete against top five teams for 40 minutes
Until the Cougs can bring in more talent, we will continue to hear the same story from Kent. You can watch the full video from his press conference below (courtesy of Jacob Thorpe).
WSU vs. No. 5 Arizona final score: Wily Wildcats wallop collapsing Cougars, 78-59 - CougCenter
The losing streak now stands at five.
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