Pac-10 preview: the University of Washington

Prior to the commencement of the 2009-2010 college basketball season, Hoopism will profile various NCAA teams. Today, the second installment of the Pac-10 previews: the Washington Huskies.

by Daniel Uribe

More than any other team in the Pac-10, Washington and it’s coach, Tia Jackson, have the most to prove this season after last year’s last-place conference finish, but perhaps, they are more prepared than ever to take on the challenge.

After two year period where Jackson endured massive defections followed by a year plagued with injuries and lack of experience, the Huskies finally seem ready to fulfill the promise that is expected of them by the third-year coach. However, the pressure is on as new Athletic Director Scott Woodward has made it clear that nothing less than a post-season berth is what is expected of all teams at Washington. And the task will not be made any easier as the Huskies are coming off the worst Pac-10 season in school history, with a 3-15 record and an 8-22 overall record.

Experience was a big factor in the Huskies tumble in the conference rankings. After losing four players from the previous year’s squad, Jackson had seven newcomers come on board. The team was also plagued with injuries. Sophomores Mackensie Argens and Liz Lay have recovered from knee injuries. Senior guard Christina Rozier is coming off knee surgery in the offseason. Guards Sarah Morton and Kristi Kingma also suffered from nagging ankle injuries. The team however, is one year older and much healthier and is optimistic about a stronger season.

Experience will begin with the return of four starters led by all-conference selection, senior guard Sami Whitcomb who led the team in scoring with 12.8 ppg as well as leading the conference in steals averaging more than 2 per game. Whitcomb will be joined be fellow returning starters junior forward/center Laura McLellan (8.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg), sophomore Kingma (8.2 ppg) and senior Christina Rozier (5 ppg, 3.4 rpg). Washington also returns seven letterwinners losing only forward Heidi McNeill to graduation.

Offense will be a key if the Huskies are to make a sharp rise in the standings. The team was ninth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (36.5). A potential improvement may come from a more ressurgent post-game led by the addition of UCLA transfer Regina Rogers, who showed flashes of brilliance during her freshman campaign, as well as a healthy Lay (3.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg), a sophomore forward whose playing time was limited due to injury but has the potential to be a power in the paint. Joining them in will be McLellan and Argens (4.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg), and sophomore forward Mollie Williams (2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg).

Other returning players include junior guard Sarah Morton (2.1 ppg, 2.0 apg), sophomore guard Charmaine Barlow (1.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg), senior guard Sara Mosiman (3.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg), and senior forward Lydia Young (2.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg)

Newcomers include guard Amanda Johnson from Manhattan Beach, California and Jeneva Anderson, a forward from Spokane Washington. Johnson, from Mira Costa H.S., averaged 16.7 ppg, 3.3 apg, and 3.7 rpg her senior season. Anderson led her Lewis & Clark H.S. team to a perfect 29-0 record her junior year en route to the Washington state championship.

The Washington Huskies will open the season versus at Portland State on Nov. 14.

(Daniel Uribe is a Los Angeles native, former reporter and Pac-10 expert).

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