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December 20, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Game Day: UW looks to end nonconference with bang

Perhaps Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and whoever picks the women’s hoops Player of the Week are visionaries. We know he is in regards to the landscape of the conference and the new television deal.
But not naming one Washington player as POW during a now four-game win streak? Or even just giving it to the entire frontline for their collective play, including C Regina Rogers leading the nation in FG percentage (71.1)? Perhaps the front office looked ahead at that schedule and unfortunate losses and sees what I see — a possible winning run right until the rivalry-that’s-not-a-rivalry-until-you-win-one at Washington State (6-5) on Jan. 14.
This week’s award went to Cal’s Gennifer Brandon after her team lost 77-75 at home to undefeated, No. 11 Ohio State on Saturday. Brandon scored 24 points and grabbed 24 rebounds.
That must mean plenty of POWs coming UW’s way, so no need to overload them now. Kind of like how the conference always backs off No. 4 Stanford (7-1) until the season starts rolling.
Yet, if that’s not the case, the Pac-12 is dissing Washington (7-2). Coach Kevin McGuff may harp about defense, which is a good thing, but the players have collectively done plenty to turn a few heads. And that’s despite an inherited soft schedule.
Tonight’s matchup against Southern University (1-5) at Edmundson Pavilion would really show, however. Across the country, No. 2 Connecticut (9-1) has a similarly light schedule (.6917 strength of schedule rating to Washington’s .4535). The only comparison I’d make to those Huskies is that when you watch them play Pacific (112-53) or Fairleigh Dickerson (74-28), the team is so focused on itself and own execution, you nearly forget the score is beyond ugly.
Washington has big wins in its stretch against over-matched opponents. But has the team visibly put its foot down where McGuff feels like he has to call off the Dawgs? Nah. And my guess is until UW does, they’re not ready for the vision of dominate conference play.
So, is Washington ready or not?

Gonzaga (8-2) finally got a signature win in a return trip to the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic on Monday. Transfer G Haiden Palmer’s three-point basket with two-tenths of a second left gave Gonzaga a 71-68 victory over No. 13 Georgia (8-2).
The Zags are on a four-game win streak, Palmer was named POW for the West Coast Conference. The team plays against Dayton (5-3) on Wednesday in Vegas before opening WCC play against Portland (6-7) on Dec. 29 and playing a final nonconference game against Saint Francis University (4-5) on Jan. 1.
Here’s video of the play.

WSU nearly had the same success against No. 14 Louisville (11-2) at home. The Cougs lost 75-71, battling back in the waning seconds to attempt the upset. WSU has an RPI of 75 and strength of schedule percentage of .5602.
They conclude nonconference play at No. 11 Ohio State, where WSU coach June Daugherty played college hoops, on Thursday. For the rest of the Pac-12 schedule, click here.
Locally, Seattle University (6-5) travels to Arkansas-Little Rock (3-8) for a Wednesday matchup. Redhawks senior G Talisa Rhea was named College Sports Madness POW, the four consecutive time a SU player has been recognized by the site. Post Kacie Sowell received the nod the previous weeks.
On TV, you can catch No. 4 Stanford hosting No. 6 Tennessee (7-2) at 7 p.m. on ROOT Sports. That’s if you’re not headed to Hec Ed or watching the debut of UW-TV’s coverage of the game on Comcast Channel 27, of course. The Vols won last season in overtime, outscoring the Cardinal 12-2 in extra play for the 82-72 final.
Tennessee has a 22-6 edge in the rivalry that began in 1988. But Stanford’s young group is protecting a 65-game home win streak.

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