Kyle Smith ushers in new era of WSU men’s basketball

Cougars introduced recently hired coach during a press conference Monday



The new men’s basketball head coach, Kyle Smith, gives a “Go Cougs” at the introductory press conference in the Rankich Club Room of Martin Stadium on Monday morning.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

Monday signaled a new era for the WSU men’s basketball program as Kyle Smith was officially welcomed to the WSU community after he was formally introduced with a press conference as the new head coach of the men’s basketball team.

After the Cougars parted ways with former head coach Ernie Kent, the team moved forward with the hiring of Smith, which was announced last Wednesday.

“I made our basketball team a promise that I do with all of our teams when we are making a change, that we are going to find you the best coach possible that’s going to help you develop into the best person you are supposed to be and in this instance the best basketball player you are supposed to be,” Athletic Director Pat Chun said.

His press conference was held in Martin Stadium and there were quite a few fans in attendance, as well as other WSU head coaches, including Mike Leach, Kamie Ethridge and Jen Greeny.

Smith was introduced by WSU President Kirk Schulz and Chun, who both elaborated on the importance of adding Smith to the basketball program.

“We have a strong commitment to providing both [Ethridge] and [Smith] the resources that they need to build championship-winning programs at WSU,” Schulz said.

Smith arrives in Pullman from the University of San Francisco, where he spent three seasons as head coach and compiled a 63-40 record. He notched 20 or more wins each season, a feat the Cougars have not achieved since the 2010-2011 season.

He looks to turn around a much-maligned basketball program that has struggled a lot of late. The Cougars have not won a first-round game at the Pac-12 Tournament in 10 years.

Maybe the highlight of the press conference was the first thing that Smith said about coming to Pullman.

“A lot of people say Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth. Well, Pullman is the friendliest place on Earth,” Smith said.

Smith is known for his use of statistics and data in helping show his team how to improve on a game-by-game basis. He hopes this will bring the same success to WSU.

Smith has already started working with his new team, with two practices down, and will have the rest of the spring and fall to improve the team before the season opens up in late November.