It’s Washington C Regina Rogers’ 23rd birthday on Wednesday. The dominate 6-foot-3 post hasn’t played a game on her birthday while at Washington, ineligible due to NCAA transfer rules when UW lost to Gonzaga 64-59 at home on Nov. 16, 2008.
Rogers made it public on the social networking site Twitter that all she wants from her team is a win. She added in an interview on Tuesday that she’s the type to play even more hyped in celebration of her day. Add the emotion of playing crosstown rival Seattle University and I’m imaging if it were a video, 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” would express the vibe at Edmundson Pavilion on Wednesday.
Adding to the “club feel” will be the presence front-office brass from the two-time WNBA champion Storm. The organization holds an annual “Winter Warm-Up” at UW games for season-ticket holders. Pitting this one at the UW-SU matchup combines all of the city’s top women’s hoops teams.
That may help attendance, but not more than the possible play on the court. With rosters loaded with local talent, the players know each other well and will make for an intriguing game.
Seattle U. is boosted by the additions of transfer Talisa Rhea (Oregon State) and Brenda Adhiambo (Lon Morris College). The Redhawks are 1-1 on the young season losing to UC Davis by four on Sunday. Rhea, a co-captain, averages 18 points, 8 boards, and 6.5 assists. Sophomore teammate Katie Sowell, a 6-2 post, is a standout returnee, averaging 17 points and 10.5 boards to start.
“We’re going to focus a lot on defense,” Rogers said of the game. “It’s about us getting better offensively and defensively. We want to prove to people it’s a new season and a new beginning, so (Wednesday) we’ll get it done.”
Defense is going to have to improve against Seattle U. Coached by third-year coach Joan Bonvicini, the Redhawks may not be Gonzaga circa 2011 with the ball, but the squad can make smart decisions in moving the ball around to find shots.
UW showed glimpses of that against UCD, yet freshmen PG Jazmine Davis would at times “jam the ball inside,” according to first-year coach Kevin McGuff. SU has older players and plays aggressive defense, so they’re not to be overlooked simply because they lack modern tradition on the Division-I stage.
And, like against the Aggies, the Huskies’ obvious size advantage doesn’t guarantee a win. UW returns senior F Mollie Williams (6-1) to the lineup with senior F Mackenzie Argens (6-3), sophomore F Marjorie Heard (6-0) and Rogers. But it hardly matters if you’re turning the ball over on bad entry-passes.
“They’re probably going to throw some different things at me that some other teams haven’t, so that (helps) me in being prepared for Pac-12,” Rogers said, who had 21 points and 10 boards in the loss Friday.
Rogers has become a go-to player in the absence of G Kristi Kingma, last year’s leading scorer (15.6). Rogers finished with seven points and nine boards in the close 58-53 win against SU in December 2009. Argens led with 10 points while Kingma added nine points and four assists.
But Kingma (knee) will be on the sideline Wednesday and the Redhawks have only one player, reserve wing Maggie McCarthy, from that 2009 roster.
“I haven’t thought about it much,” said McGuff of missing Kingma this season. He is expecting top freshman Talia Walton to return in December. She turns 19 on Wednesday. “(Kristi’s) not playing; we know that. So I don’t want any of our players thinking about that, any of our coaches thinking about it. We’ll find other ways to be successful, and I think we have enough players to do that.”
SU also spoke about taking care of the ball after 25 turnovers on Sunday led to 34 points for the Aggies.
Still, it’s early. The game gives obvious Emerald City bragging rights, but won’t define either program. Washington does lead the overall series 12-3, however, last losing to Seattle U. 72-69 in January 1981 at the Hec Ed Addition.
“We need to come out ready to go,” Sowell said.
Nationally, a Washington local made a splash in opening weekend. Nebraska junior G Lindsey Moore (Kentwood High) had an impressive stat line with 18 points and 11 assists with zero turnovers in an expected 99-53 win against Mississippi Valley State.
The Huskers (2-0) host No. 23 Southern California (1-0) on Friday in Lincoln.
Freshmen Erika Johnson didn’t play a minute as California lost 73-70 at No. 15 Rutgers on Sunday. Johnson, a 6-1 G, led Holy Names to a state championship with 29-0 record. And while Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph told media she liked how Tacoma’s Sarah Hartwell (Bellarmaine Prep) was progressing in practice, the guard is going to redshirt this season.
Hartwell, you may remember, was originally recruited by McGuff to play at Xavier. She withdrew her letter of intent after he accepted the position at UW, signing with GT in May.
Around the Pac-12, the newly formatted conference went 15-3 in its opening weekend. Arizona sophomore G Candice Warthen was named Player of the Week, averaging 24.5 points, including a career-high 36 at Georgia State, in two wins for the Wildcats.
No. 22 UCLA (2-0) has the headliner this week, facing No. 1 Baylor in the Women’s preseason NIT on Thursday. For the complete list of Pac-12 games this weekend, you can click here.