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Women's Hoops

The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

March 18, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Wrapping up the Washington season

Husky.jpgWhile the women’s hoops world gets ready for the NCAA tournament, Washington is in the midst of finals this week. The Huskies only participation in the postseason will be hosting the subregional at Hec Ed this weekend.
And too bad No. 16 seed Austin Peay isn’t playing in Washington. Then we’d have a “W,” “X,” “Y,” and “Z” represented. (Have to give a partial credit to Rebecca Lobo for that discovery).
On another end, Oregon coach Bev Smith is the only to lose her job after a 9-21 season. The Ducks only made it to the postseason once (2005) in Smith’s eight seasons, a problem for AD Pat Kilkenny.
Washington coach Tia Jackson is reportedly supported by teh UW administration despite back-to-back losing seasons, however. AD Scott Woodward and his staff have noted her young tenure at the school and battle with injuries this season.
In speaking with Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, she was sad to hear about Jackson’s record still believes the Huskies have a gem in their women’s coach. Jackson played for Stringer at Iowa, advancing to the Final Four in 1993.
“It’s never been about money or personal recognition [for Tia],” Stringer said recently. “Tia deserves the best and I truly hope she has great support around her to withstand this storm. Washington is a great school, but it’s not the easiest place to recruit to. She’s got to be given time to get it together. When I talked to her, she said it was her dream job.
“When I started coaching, no body really cared [about women’s basketball] — just didn’t want us to cause a problem. [Now], the expectations and results have got to be quick. That part is unfortunate because it really strains. Tia is the kind of person who is strained anyway because she’s such a great competitor. But she’s got to get her own players in there and have time.”
Aside from health, post play will be key in Washington rebounding next season. Posts Mackenzie Argens and Liz Lay returned from knee injuries this season and will use the offseason to regain their conditioning. Forward Laura McLellan played better off the bench this season, but she’ll need to contribute more in rebounding and leadership next season, learning to keep a cool head.
As for the guards, consistency in shooting from Sami Whitcomb and Kristi Kingma is needed. The Huskies may even go to a platoon setup with PGs Christina Rozier and Sarah Morton, who played well to end the season. The group also needs work on defense, possibly following Rozier’s lead.
UW referred a lot to the 1999-2000 season, when the team was also 8-22 overall, but returned to advance to the Elite Eight the following season. The climate of the Pac-10 is different, yet it’s a good barometer for the group that certainly had plenty of experiences to learn from this season.
“It was hard but you’ve got to stay positive,” said junior college transfer Lydia Young of the season where the Huskies set marks for worst defeat (77-points) and least conference wins (three).
“[The turnaround] is going to take people really understanding their roles and taking the time out to work on the weaknesses that we do have, like defense. I’m just used to defensive teams. It’s not 1999 anymore, it’s 2009. You’ve got to know your strengths and weaknesses to stop people. And we believe, if you don’t it’s so obvious and you’re making the situation harder on yourself.”
Washington did manage to have some good times, they just weren’t always on the court. My favorite story was about Jackson rapping on the team bus from practice before playing at Arizona. Apparently a battle started between the back of the bus and the front and Jackson grabbed the mic for some lyrics about winning and the Huskies.
The players broke into laughter because, well, Jackson is not a rapper, as Whitcomb put it. Players said Young and McLellan are the best freestylers.
“To see Coach J in that environment was good,” Kingma said. “It’s been a tough season, but we’re really pulling for each other.”
You can check out the Huskies’ final stats here.

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