PULLMAN, Wash. — Even before WSU beat Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament, Kyle Smith could see something coming.
"Early in the day I said there's a 10% chance we don't even play the game. That's how quickly things moved," said Smith reflecting on a wild week.
Turns out, that WSU-Colorado game ended up being the last college basketball game for the entire 2019-2020 season.
"It's a good ending for us," said Smith with a laugh. "We wanted to play more, but we ended on a win. It's hard to end on a win, and we played really well."
Of course a week ago the first year WSU head coach thought he would be preparing for the CBI Tournament-- or better-- right now.
Life comes at you fast.
"I was like, 'This is it.' We thought alright, we're going to have to win this thing or this season is over. It started off like, 'Hey, we're not going to be able to host in the CBI because of Washington state' and I said, 'Okay.' Then the next thing was, 'Hey, CBI is canceled.' That's when I started saying I wonder if we're even going to play in the Pac-12 here. I just kind of knew things were kind of winding down. At that point you're like well, we'll play until this tournament's over and we'll see what happens in the NCAA Tournament. They're not going to stop the NCAA Tournament, that's March Madness. But sure enough they did."
Thankfully for Smith and his staff, there are a lot of positive things to draw on at the end of the season: The team's first win in the Pac-12 Tournament in 11 years, the Coug's first .500 or above season in eight years, and whole lot of momentum that isn't quantifiable. It's safe to say year one at the helm was a success.
"The core of it's always the same. It's have great attitude, great work ethic, and guys who really want to be here, and that's how you lay the foundation. This is the fourth time I've done it, but as well as any group I've had, they've really bought in to that. They want to be good. There's no straight line path to success. There's always ups and downs. Our guys were very resilient and they kept coming to work and getting better every day. Every year that's your goal, but I learned a lot from these guys that if you want something bad enough, you'll keep working to get it."
For now though, Smith is focusing on his most important gig: Being a father.
"We had a couple fights already in here," Kyle said of day one of Camp Smith. "I actually tried to get some work done. My wife called and there was an issue out on the soccer field because we have a little backyard and had a little rec time. I had to come to to the rescue. It's been wild."