Pac-12 preview: Washington State University

This is the tenth in an annual season preview series of the Pac-12 teams.

The Washington State Cougars are poised to have yet another mediocre year in 2016-2017.

They lost five players from last season, including one transfer, and they bring in five freshmen that include two international athletes, continuing a trend coach June Daugherty has had in place for years.

Sophomore forward Borislava Hristova, from Bulgaria, (16.3 points per game) is the Cougars’ bright spot. All of the other eight returnees average 5.5 points per game or less, and five of them hail from other nations.

This is Daugherty’s tenth season as head of the WSU program, where she has a 107-177 record. Last spring Colorado dispensed of coach Linda Lappe after five years, and Arizona let coach Niya Butts go after eight. But Daugherty’s contract was extended two years ago to 2018-2019. It is puzzling, to say the least.

The Cougars went 14-16 overall last season and 5-13 in the Pac-12 for ninth place, which is about where they usually are. The average-to-low team performances that precipitated Daugherty’s arrival is no doubt why the program has trouble attracting and keeping recruits. Three of the athletes who graduated last spring averaged 6.5 points per game between them. One of the program’s best-ever, Lia Galdeira, left in 2015 after her junior year to play overseas.

This year’s freshmen include Hawaii natives Cameron Fernandez and Chanelle Molina, and Kayla Washington of Southern California. Johanna Muzet is from France and Jovana Subašic comes from Serbia.

During Galdeira’s last year in Pullman she pushed the Cougars to some surprise wins, including a pair over cross-state rival Washington. Perhaps it is in this spirit that lead Daugherty to schedule the preconference opponents for her team that she did this fall.

WSU will take on San Francisco, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Maryland, San Diego, Gonzaga and Kentucky before beginning Pac-12 play Dec. 27 against the Huskies in Seattle.

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