Much better effort from the men’s team this time

The Cougars earned a much-needed 83-76 victory over the Utah Valley Wolverines on Wednesday at Beasley Coliseum.

Although the announced attendance was 2,314, I venture that the figure was closer to 400.

On the bright side, I saw a lot of positive things this time around.

Freshman guard Malachi Flynn, a 6-foot-1-inch Tacoma native, showed that he may be able to provide the on-court leadership the Cougars desperately need.

Playing 38 of the game’s 40 minutes, Flynn provided the spark WSU’s offense needed, pouring in 27 points while shooting 11 for 14 from the floor. In addition to getting buckets, the highly-used guard grabbed seven rebounds, dished out three assists and recorded a steal.

Flynn is the child star of a veteran-laden squad that starts four seniors. While Flynn is naturally going to endure growing pains in the rugged Pac-12, he displays all of the raw skills you look for in a guard.

Junior forward Derrien King pitched in 13 points of his own and his play and body type reminds me of a Midwestern Nicolas Batum. King is the type of player who does a lot of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. He plays tough defense, hustles and pressures opponents’ guards.

Though his shots weren’t falling for most of the game, senior forward Josh Hawkinson still grabbed 17 rebounds and hit a couple three pointers.

Senior guard Ike Iroegbu’s favorite movie must be Fast and the Furious, because he plays basketball a quarter mile at a time.

I also liked what I saw from senior guard Charles Callison in some of the explosive plays he converted, much like the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook.

This game was certainly a step in the right direction for Head Coach Ernie Kent and the program. With a few non-conference battles remaining before the New Year’s Day tilt against the University of Washington in Seattle, the Cougars have time to hone in their identity.