Pac-10 preview: Washington State University

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

by Daniel Uribe

Washington State is looking to make a sharp move up in the Pac-10, and behind two strong recruiting classes, is looking to move away from being the perennial cellar dweller in the conference.

Head coach June Daugherty had a strong reputation as a recruiter prior to her arrival and in only her second year, was able to bring in a class that made an impact more than doubling their wins from the previous season going 11-19 — their best overall record since the 2000-01 season — and 4-14 in the Pac-10. Despite the optimism, the Cougars have to overcome a reputation as the perennial underachievers of the conference, as well as a lack of experience as they lose valuable leadership and have gotten younger despite the wealth of talent that has come to Pullman

The Cougars lost sharpshooter Katie Appleton and leading rebounders Heather Molzen and Ebony Coates to graduation. But they return the three players that helped take them to the next level; wings April Cook and Jazmine Perkins as well as forward Rosie Tarnowski.

Cook averaged 14 points per game, fifth in the Pac-10, and Perkins averaged 13.8 points, and 2.1 steals, which was second in the conference. Add to that the solid all-around game of Tarnowski (7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.9 apg). Other returning sophomores include Danielle Lenoir (4.2 ppg, 2 rpg) and forward Lexie Petterson (1.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg).

Also expected to make an immediate impact is redshirt junior forward Katie Madison who is a transfer from Idaho and led the WAC in scoring during the 2007-08 season. Also returning is junior guard/forward Katie Calderwood.

The crop of newcomers is what has the team and it’s supporters excited. These freshmen are expected to contribute immediately much like their predecessors. The group is led by by Kiki Moore, a point guard out of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in San Francisco. The 5’8″ Moore led her high school to a California Division III state championship and was rated in the top 60 of ESPN’s rankings. Joining her will be redshirt freshman Katie Grad from Auburn-Riverside H.S. in Washington, and Ireti Amojo from Germany. Grad was selected 2007-08 Washington Player of the Year and with Amojo — who was an exchange student at the time — led their high school to a state championship.

Also joining the crop of new players are 6’5″ center Carly Noyes out of Moses Lake, WA. Razz Muir, a 6’4″ forward from Australia is expected to join the team either at the end of December or next season. The date of her arrival may play somewhat of a role as the the Cougars will be thin at the post because 6’8″ sophomore center Jessica Oestriecher underwent knee surgery in the off-season and will redshirt.

Washington State will open it’s season at home versus UC Davis on Nov. 15.

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