Washington (1-0) is putting the final touches on its preparation for a matchup against Seattle University (0-1) at KeyArena on Wednesday. Both played dramatic season-openers, UW defeating Saint Mary’s 70-68 and SU falling 71-70 to Pacific on Friday.
“Pacific is really good, so that was a really competitive game for them,” Huskies coach Kevin McGuff said of the Redhawks’ loss. Pacific (2-0) defeated Arizona State 77-62 in the opening-round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament last year.
“One thing I like about (SU’s) team is that they have good balance,” McGuff continued. “They’re really good around the basket and now they’ve got some perimeter players in (Sylvia) Shephard and (Daidra) Brown that are really doing some good things. It’s going to be a real strength of theirs as the season goes on.”
UW’s backcourt is more talented, however. Sophomore PG Jazmine Davis scored a layup against a triple-team defense for the winning bucket with six seconds remaining against Saint Mary’s. She sprained her right ankle in the first half, but finished with 25 points on 8 of 21 shooting from the field. Davis is joined by all-conference G Kristi Kingma and slasher Mercedes Wetmore along the perimeter.
“She’ll be able to play,” said McGuff of Davis, the Pac-12’s freshman of the year last season. “She tweaked her ankle in the Saint Mary’s game and was sore afterwards but I would expect she’d be 100 percent tomorrow. She’s been practicing.”
Meanwhile upfront, redshirt freshman Talia Walton made a sparkling return from knee troubles last season. You could probably call it a debut since she only appeared in one game last year. Walton, a 6 feet 2 F, had three blocks in her opening 10 minutes on the court and finished with 17 points, four rebounds and three steals.
The Redhawks (0-1) are buoyed by junior F Kacie Sowell inside. SU is playing its first season in the Western Athletic Conference and Sowell received this season’s first WAC Player of the Week honor. She finished with 19 points and 11 boards in Friday’s loss.
KeyArena is Seattle U’s home court, but the game will benefit UW more. The women’s Pac-12 tournament moves to the facility in March. Wednesday’s matchup gives the Huskies a sneak-preview of the atmosphere and court. The Redhawks will play the remainder of its season at Connolly Center.
WHERE’S CARTA?: Some noticed that G Beatrice Carta isn’t on the Washington bench this season. She underwent knee surgery last season and was expected to return as a solid contributor in the backcourt. She was often spotted at practice reviewing the playbook with Kingma.
McGuff said Carta didn’t return, however, due to being homesick and concern of falling behind in her studies. She’s from Italy and is starting over as a freshman in her native country since some classes didn’t transfer.
McGuff added that G Kellie McCann-Smith still hasn’t rejoined the team due to a personal issue. The Huskies have eight available players, seven under scholarship.
OTHER HOOP NEWS: The entire NCAA season tipped off last week with new treats in the women’s basketball world. Nell Fortner, a former Auburn, Olympic, and WNBA coach, will have a traveling basketball show a la John Madden. “NellonWheels'” first stop was Georgia Tech’s opening of its new McCamish Pavilion, losing 71-54 to No. 24 Tennessee on Sunday. You can follow the latest on its Twitter page.
No. 4 Stanford (2-0) is playing the big Pac-12 nonconference game of the week. It will matchup with No. 1 Baylor (1-0) in the Rainbow Wahine Classic, in Honolulu at 4:30 pm (PST) on Friday.
TV ALERT: Baylor is hosting No. 6 Kentucky (1-0) on Tuesday at 3 pm (PST) on ESPN2.
RANK ‘EM: The first official poll rankings have been published. I’m a registered Associated Press voter and my rankings are below. I didn’t move from my preseason rankings since it was just one round of games and teams like Duke not even playing a single matchup. I know this won’t stick next week.
MY WEEK 1 NATIONAL RANKINGS
1 Baylor (1-0)
2 Stanford (2-0)
3 Duke (0-0)
4 Connecticut (1-0)
5 Kentucky (1-0)
6 Maryland (2-0)
7 Penn State (1-0)
8 Notre Dame (1-0)
9 Oklahoma (1-0)
10 Georgia (1-0)
11 California (1-0)
12 Kansas (1-0)
13 Georgia Tech (0-1)
14 Ohio State (0-1)
15 Delaware (1-1)
16 Vanderbilt (2-0)
17 Louisville (2-0)
18 North Carolina (2-0)
19 Purdue (1-0)
20 Nebraska (2-0)
21 San Diego State (0-1)
22 Tennessee (1-1)
23 Georgetown (2-0)
24 South Carolina (2-0)
25 Texas (2-0)
AROUND THE WNBA: Storm PG Sue Bird is slowly recovering from hip surgery in October. Several have mentioned that she’s attended Connecticut practices. She’s doing part of her rehabilitation on campus.
Teammate Lauren Jackson isn’t progressing as well as anticipated. She was expected to return to playing this month in Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League, but it’s delayed due to her hamstring injury.
In China, reports have Storm F Camille Little playing well, only Minnesota G Maya Moore is making the splash. Americans are expected to carry the offense in the country and Moore scored 60 points in an overtime win to prove that point.
New York coach John Whisenant, whose wife is suffering from ovarian cancer, stepped down in October and was replaced by former Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer. Also a NBA legend, Laimbeer won two titles with the Shock.
Whisenant was 34-34 in two seasons with the Liberty, drafting former Gonzaga star Katelan Redmon last spring. Locals Alex Montgomery (Tacoma) and Leilani Mitchell (Richland) also played for the Liberty this season.
JUST FOR KICKS: Here’s a fun video promoting the Israeli basketball league that includes Storm wing Alysha Clark. Enjoy!