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January 9, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Mailbag: Talia Walton on Pac-12 award, NCAA rankings and a Golden Apple

Washington is in the midst of a pretty good week. The Huskies’ home win against Arizona on Sunday assured UW of their first sweep in the opening of Pac-12 play since 2006-07. UW received a shout out by ESPN reporter Graham Hayes and Huskies’ post Talia Walton was named Freshman of the Week. She’s back after redshirting last year due to still recovering from right knee surgery her senior season in high school.

I spoke with Walton on Tuesday about the award. She scored 19 points and had five blocks, in a win over Arizona State (8-6, 0-2) in the teams’ conference opener on Friday. The former Federal Way preps star followed that with career highs in points (20) and rebounds (13) in a win against UA (9-4, 1-1).

Here’s the video from our chat:



As UW coach Kevin McGuff was praising Walton, he expressed uncertainty about G Kellie McCann-Smith. The junior missed two quarters due to a personal issue this academic year. When she returned in December, she was out of shape, which she said is linked to her absence. Apparently McCann-Smith is so far behind she may be redshirted this season.


“She really doesn’t have the conditioning and so forth to really impact us, so I’m toying around with exactly what her role would be from here on out,” McGuff said on Tuesday. “Right now I’d say, more than likely, she won’t play but I really haven’t decided that for sure. I would lean toward her probably not even playing this year — just from a conditioning and strength standpoint.”

McCann-Smith’s case doesn’t sound similar to former C Regina Rogers. In the past, Rogers, who had a chronic thigh injury, was pushed by former coach Tia Jackson to get into more game-ready conditioning. She was even pulled from a matchup against Oregon because of the speed of the game and Jackson not believing Rogers could keep pace.

Rogers, however, playedher senior season and proceeded to help the Huskies to its first 20-win season in McGuff’s first stint last year.

McCann-Smith transferred to Washington in 2011 from Nebraska. She averaged 4.0 points on 34.6 percent shooting and started in three of her 34 games. Like Walton, McCann-Smith could benefit from a year on the bench to hone her skills, possibly adding more depth in the backcourt to a talented class headed to campus this fall.

“She’s got too far to go for where it to make sense to try to get her up to speed and play her,” McGuff said. “I’m not surprised. I’m not disappointed…I just want to put her in a position to be successful or not put her in a position where she’d be unsuccessful. That’s what I’m really focused on.”

Washington (10-3, 2-0) leaves Thursday for a two-game road trip in Los Angeles. UW plays at USC (5-8, 2-0) on Friday at 6pm and at No. 14 UCLA (11-2, 2-0) on Sunday a 2pm. Senior G Jeneva Anderson said it’s one of her favorite trips because of the competition and celebrities spotted. Last year UW caught comedian Wanda Sykes working out at Galen Center.

“I thought that was super cool,” Anderson said. “She walked past us and we all ran (her way). It was her, but she was working out, so we left her alone.”


RANK ‘EM: The national polls are out. UConn dropped to No. 2 after a one-point loss to current No. 2 Notre Dame. Stanford, which won its 82nd consecutive Pac-12 matchup on Tuesday, dropped to the No. 5 slot. The conference still has four ranked teams despite No. 23 Colorado getting swept by the Bay Area schools last week.


1 Baylor (12-1)

2 Duke (13-0)

3 Notre Dame (12-1)

4UConn (12-1)

5 Stanford (13-1)

6 Kentucky (14-1)

7 North Carolina (15-1)

8 California (12-1)

9 Tennessee (11-3)

10 Kansas (11-2)

11 Maryland( 11-3)

12 Purdue (13-2)

13 Nebraska (11-4)

14 UCLA (11-2)

15 Miami (12-2)

16 Penn State (12-2)

17 Florida State (12-2)

18 Colorado (11-2)

19 Louisville (12-3)

20 Syracuse (13-1)

21 Georgia (13-2)

22 Dayton (12-1)

23 South Carolina (13-2)

24 Texas A&M (12-4)

25 Illinois (8-6)


POW: Here’s a list of conference Player of the Weeks based on ties from programs in Washington (UW, Washington State, Gonzaga, Seattle University and Eastern Washington).

PAC-12: USC sophomore F Cassie Harberts.

WAC: Seattle U junior F Kacie Sowell.

WCC: Gonzaga senior PG Taelor Karr.

Big Sky: Montana State senior F Rachel Semansky and Northern Arizona junior G Amanda Frost.


My Golden Apple: Of the Northwest ballers (any who played high school, college or pro ball in the state), I’m picking SU senior PG Daidra Brown as my Golden Apple. True, she was tagged for a technical foul last week, but she’s dealt with a new role as a reserve this season without attitude. Her energy was a catalyst to the Redhawks’ inaugural start in Western Athletic Conference play. She totaled 13 points, 15 rebounds in two games and had nine assists alone in a 72-60 win against San Jose State on Saturday. SU (6-6, 3-0) is atop the conference. It plays at New Mexico State (9-5, 3-1) on Thursday and Denver (8-7, 3-1) on Sunday. NMSU is led by former USC coach Mark Trakh and USC transfer Stefanie Gilbreath (14.7 points).

Comments | More in Mailbag, Northwest Ballers, Pac-12, Polls, Video, Washington


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