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Shockers of the Roundhouse: Untold Stories from P.J. Couisnard

Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 10:59 am at thesunflower.com
Posted on Sep 24, 2014
by James Kellerman

P.J. Couisnard played basketball for Wichita State from 2004-2008. Today, Couisnard lives in Houston, Texas with his wife Tiana, a WSU graduate and former track runner for the Shockers, his eldest son Pierre, another son, Prince, and his 1-year-old daughter Talia.

Couisnard plays basketball for the American Basketball Association’s Shreveport Bossier Mavericks in Louisiana.

During the offseason, he coaches all ages of AAU basketball and is also a coach at Kinkaid high school in Houston.

He said he hopes to get in touch with kids and make a better path for them to be successful in life.

Editor’s Note: I’ve been on a mission to compile interviews from as many former Wichita State basketball players as possible.

Through the course of compiling these interviews, I’ve been writing stories about their experiences at WSU and where they are now.

My most recent interview with P.J. Couisnard contained so many great details that it was difficult to just write a story about him.

So, here are some of my favorite stories that P.J. told me.

Redshirting

“Aw man, I was heated cause I came there with the mindset of playing. You know, I didn’t know anything about the college system yet. I was young. And you know, you’re young and come in, you want to play. You feel like you’re one of the best players on the team and then … It wasn’t a foreseen thing. Like, I didn’t know I was going to redshirt until about a week and a half before [the season started]. And so I was heated. You know, just young.

Actually, Randy Burns, Gretchen Torline and Kerry [Rosenboom], they kept talking to me, telling me the good things about it, the bright parts of redshirting and all of that, so they really helped me get through that part of redshirting. Because I feel like I could’ve helped the team right away but I think coach made a great decision redshirting me.”

Playing Tennessee in the Round of 32

“The thing I remember vividly was in the tunnel. Before we came out [for] the game, Duke and George Washington had just played before us and I think Duke ended up winning. But, we were in the tunnel and we were waiting, and Tennessee was in front of us.

And Pops Mensah-Bonsu,I think he played in the NBA for a little while. He was walking through the tunnel and he walks past Tennessee and was like, ‘Hey, good job. Go get ’em. Good luck.’ And he walked by us and he was [yelling], ‘Man, go whoop them boys. Go whoop ’em. Go whoop ‘em. Go beat ‘em bad.” You know, he was excited for us and I felt like he was giving us that mid-major love before the game. So I remember that.

But, then we went out there in the Tennessee game. We played Illinois that year and Michigan State and a whole bunch of other schools.

The first timeout, we really as a starting five, we used to always look at each other and give our analysis of what we think.

So, when we came out of the Michigan State game that first five minutes after the first TV timeout, we were thinking like, ‘Man, these guys are fast. They’re strong.’ You know what I’m saying? Kinda like a boxer has to adjust after the first three rounds.

In the Tennessee game, we came out and we looked at each other like, ‘They’re not that good. We can win this game.’ So, we had so much confidence after that first timeout. It was amazing. I had no doubts that we were going to win that game.”

Funny Practice Moment

“Well, P-Mill [Paul Miller] was having a tough day at practice, man. It was so funny. Practices are intense. Guys talk trash. We talk so much trash to each other at practice cause we talk trash all day when we see each other on campus. You talk so much trash to each other, so the second team will get your best.

And Paul ends up getting fouled. Coach didn’t really call a foul, so if it wasn’t a blatant foul, coach didn’t call it. And coach didn’t call it, so P-Mill got frustrated. He ends up getting fouled and the whistle blew for him to get the foul shots. But, he was so mad he wanted to dunk the ball so hard. He was so serious going at the basket while everybody else was stopped, and he got hung and he fell on his butt so hard.

Nobody wanted to laugh cause P-Mill was the biggest guy, but I was the first guy to start laughing. Everybody started laughing. It was so funny, man. It was so funny. It kinda lightened practice up after that.

Coach Turgeon just put his head in his hands and shook his head a couple times. Coach Rohn had a smirk. Coach Prielo was kinda laughing. It was funny.”

Coach Mark Turgeon

“To this day, I think coach is one of the smartest coaches, as far as game plan and playbook. I think he’s top of the line. If you just did what he said, it was going to work. [Coach Turgeon would say,] ‘You will make the shot. If you do this, you will be open. You will be there for a layup. You will catch the ball.’ Everything happens just like he says it happens. So, I think he’s one of the smartest coaches in college basketball.”

Coach Tad Boyle

“Oh, coach Boyle. I knew he was going to be so successful at any school he took, because he’s so passionate and so energetic about what he does. It’s hard for a team to not have energy if you play for coach Boyle. He had so much energy and he’s so passionate about what he does. He’s one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet. [He’s a] family guy. And I was just so happy when he got his job at Colorado, and he’s been doing great. I’m so happy for him.”

Coach Mike Rohn

“Me and coach Rohn were almost father-son type relationship. When I redshirted, any time I did anything, first person people would call was coach Rohn. Any time I gotta run or any time I gotta shoot, coach Rohn was there, hand-in-foot, every time, my whole time until he left. Me and coach Rohn are really tight, really tight,” Couisnard laughed. “To this day, I still call him on everyone of his birthdays, ‘Happy birthday coach.’”

The Day Coach Turgeon Left

Couisnard laughed, “It was crazy. I was asleep actually. I had a 10 o’clock class or something and my phone is ringing off the hook. And I’m like, ‘Why is everybody calling me?’

So, I end up answering the phone for one of them. I think it was my mom and I had my dad in the background, ‘P.J.! Is your coach leaving? Is ya’all coach leaving?’ I’m like, ‘No, we just saw coach yesterday. I don’t think so, but hold on. My phone’s been ringing like crazy, so let me find out.’

So, I end up getting up and going on campus and as soon as I get on campus, I walk in study hall and I see cameras and all of that. I was like ‘Aw man. Something must really be happening.’ So, I try to get in contact with my teammates and we have no clue what was going on.

All of a sudden, we’re watching ESPN in the Heskett Center where they have the TV’s before you take the right to go to the gym. So we’re watching those TV’s and we see coach Turgeon getting off the plane for A&M for a presser. That was the first time we heard or saw anything and we didn’t know what to do. So, next thing you know, they tell us we have a meeting at like 8 o’clock at night or something like that.

It was with coach and he basically told us he took the job and all that type of stuff. Then he set up our individual meetings right after it.”

Individual Meeting with Coach Turgeon

“I don’t remember. I didn’t even go. I mean, it is what it is. Some of our players were hurt. I mean it was like a TV scene. And, I kind of understand the business part of it. You can not be mad at someone who is trying to take care of their family, so I kind of understood the decision.”

Entering the NBA Draft after Junior Year

“I had actually entered my name with coach Turgeon, but with the paperwork, it takes time. You can’t just say, ‘I enter my name in the NBA draft’ and you’re in the NBA draft. It takes paperwork and all this type of stuff to go through before you actually get entered in the draft.

So, I had started the paperwork with coach T, but by the time he left the paperwork didn’t get through until Coach Marshall’s second day at the job.

I didn’t seriously consider leaving. I already knew I was coming back for my senior year, regardless. I just wanted to see the interest in my name.

I had a funny meeting with coach Marshall though,” Couisnard laughed. “’Cause the day the paper announced it, he had no idea that I did that. So, he didn’t know what I was thinking. So, he called me to his office at 9 o’clock in the morning. He was like, ‘Whats going on? Dadadadada.’ I was like, ‘No, I have no plans on leaving. I will be here next year.’ It was the funniest thing.”

Head Coach Gregg Marshall

“Playing for coach Marshall, I loved every minute of it. And he’ll tell you the offseason is grueling. It was crazy. The offseason was crazy, but he was like coach Boyle with so much energy and so much passion for the game and coach Marshall just doesn’t want you to be soft so that fit my personality.

He didn’t want anything soft. That was one of his biggest recruiting factors. He doesn’t want no soft kids. He only wants tough kids.

It was a fun experience. I think playing his style was one of the best statistical years I had as far as scoring and stuff like that. But, I think it was a great, fun experience playing for coach Marshall. I would’ve loved to have played for him a couple more years.”

Transition from Coach Turgeon to Coach Marshall

“I talked to coach. Me and coach Marshall had a great relationship while I was there. I understand the changes he had to make ’cause in order for him to get his stuff rolling in a certain amount of time, you had to change everything. You know, you’re not goona get your stuff moving the way you want to move if you still have to hold on to certain things and making a slow transition.

So when coach Marshall came he said, ‘Okay. So this is how we used to do it. We’re not goona do it like this no more. This is how we’re going to do it from here on.’

A lot of players couldn’t. We ended up losing a lot of players that year. A lot of kids couldn’t make it playing for coach. But, that’s just a part of how college basketball works. If coach hadn’t done things his way, he probably wouldn’t be as advanced as he is now in his situation, so I was all for him making changes and stuff like that. It was hard, but I was all for it.

Guys like Lance, Lance Harris. He fit coach Marshall’s style great ’cause he didn’t play a minute for coach T, but he ended up starting the later part of the year for coach Marshall and actually playing good.”

Regrets

“Naw. Not really. I think I did pretty good. Like, I was the only person in school history to have a certain amount points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists. That’s one of the things I can say I’m proud of.

If I look back on my career, I mean, everybody wishes they could’ve won a few more games and done a few things different — but as far as regrets — I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

With players like Xavier McDaniel, Jason Perez, Stallworth, all of those guys, and to say that I was the only player to do this or do that, or first player to do that ’cause I’m pretty sure Toure’ Murry did something like that.

But, just being one of the all-around players and that’s what coach Rohn always told me and talked to me about — being an all-around player, being able to play both ends and every position. I don’t think I have any regrets.”

Memorable Moments

“I have two. Of course, winning MVC and that night. That was probably the biggest.

But, seeing Gretchen Torline’s face when I graduated was kind of like, probably one of the most memorable moments I have because she was so happy. She knew what type of educational background I had coming from my high school and stuff like that. So, I felt good to see how happy she was.”

Starting a New Tradition

“When I graduated, I stayed in contact with all the players. They call me; ask me for advice, as far as like the next level and stuff like that. I always made myself available to them in case they need something.

I tried to start a tradition ’cause I know we always heard about the legends and hall of famers and stuff like that, but we never had a chance to talk to them or speak to them and hang out with them or call them and ask them for advice — you know. Not because they weren’t available, but because of the distance in how far it was.

So, the thing I tried to do when I graduated was keep in contact. Like, I’d talk to Toure’ [Murry]. I want it to be so when you leave Wichita, you’re not just out there on your own. You can call somebody that went to Wichita State and ask them, ‘OK, what do you feel about this or what do you feel about that?’

[I want to] make it like a brotherhood and to help everybody. For me, you hear so many stories about playing in the NBA or going overseas and how it’s good or bad.

So, a guy like Demetric [Williams]. Demetric called me after he graduated and said, ‘P.J., man, what do you think about overseas? I got this and I got that.’

So, I try helping them out, as far as giving them information or giving them some advice. It could be the simplest thing. You always need that person you can call that’s been through what you’ve been through or going through what you’ve gone through.

First thing when Cle [Cleanthony Early] got drafted, I texted Toure’ and said, ‘Toure’, you called him yet? You talk to him?” And Toure’ said, ‘Yeah, I talked to him and this and that.’ You know?

It’s just a thing to help each other out 'cause we all … At the end of the day, we’re all family when you come from Wichita State. It was just something to have that I thought we didn’t have. Something for the younger kids coming up.”

Where the Program is Today

“I think the school and the program is finally at a high right now. I think it’s going to last for a long time.

I’m so happy and proud. I brag on the school everyday ’cause I’m around basketball guys and teammates that played in college, so they get tired of me ’cause I’m always bragging about how good my school is. So, I’m very proud to be a Shocker right now and will always be proud to be a Shocker.

I think college was one of the best times of my life and it prepared me to do so many other things in my life, so I’m very thankful and very glad to have been a Shocker.”

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