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Pac-12 Media Day: WSU picked 11th in preseason poll

Despite the bleak prognostication, Ernie Kent remains predictably excited to be back in coaching with the 2014-2015 Cougars.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

WSU basketball coach Ernie Kent and his star guard DaVonte Lacy met the assembled media in northern California today for the Pac-12 media day, and it turns out those media members aren't real keen on the Cougars' chances: They picked WSU 11th in the 12-team league.

Arizona is the near unanimous pick to repeat as champion. Here is the full list, with first place votes in parentheses:

1. ARIZONA (31) 383 7. CALIFORNIA 188
2. UTAH 317 8. OREGON 159
4. UCLA (1) 290 10. USC 106

That hasn't made Kent any less excited to be back in coaching; as expected, many of the questions centered around the novelty of the long-time Oregon coach making his way back into the conference.

"Having been out of it four years, the definition I use, I feel like I've been a big bear in hibernation and now you get a chance to come out and eat," Kent said. "I'm so passionate about the game, about Washington State and my team."

That energy is already being felt by the players.

"He already has a lot of energy and passion and love for the game," Lacy said. "If you take that away from him for four years, imagine all that building up and building up, building up, and it gets taken out on us (laughter). It's not a bad thing, because it is passion. But he does bring a tremendous amount of energy to practice and the program as a whole."

Lacy also said he's trying to diversify his game to make himself an even more dangerous scorer.

"During the off-season I think I focused on, of course, getting my handle tight because I'm going to have to play differently, have the ball more at the next level," he said. "Also I'm a bigger guard so I wanted to utilize that. I tried to work a lot on just in certain situations if I have a smaller guard, I can have that in my toolbox to pull it out every once in a while to get a couple points here and there, to help one of my teammates get open."

Kent was his usual quotable self, spinning a story about getting to know the fine folks of Pullman.

"I think the biggest thing, in any opportunity to market, the biggest challenge is getting everywhere. I've tried to make myself available as much as possible," he said. "That's even if it's speaking to five people or 500 people, you have to get your face in front of the fans so they can feel your energy and passion and understand what you're going to do.

"We talk a lot about our style of play. We try to sell that style of play. We have tremendous character in our program. The biggest thing is introducing a new face, a new staff, a new system, changing a culture that so far everybody's bought into. But the end result is going to be the product we put on the floor.

"But it's been fun getting out and meeting people in Pullman. I knock on doors, pretending like I'm lost. ‘I'm your new basketball coach, can you help me?' I've been invited for breakfast, coffee. It's been neat."