By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — More than eight months have passed since the University of Washington women’s basketball team departed for a preseason trip of exhibition games in Scandinavia.
And the Huskies aren’t done yet.
The longest season in program history will continue this afternoon when UW hosts the University of San Diego in a quarterfinal game of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
“The season is longer than I expected, longer than I thought,” freshman Jazmine Davis said last week. “But I love basketball, so I love it. I love winning. If we keep doing that, we keep playing. I just love everything about it.”
While the Huskies (20-14) have been surprising in their longevity, the most amazing part of this never-ending season may well be the stamina of the team’s two stars. Davis is in her first year playing college basketball, and yet the length of the season has yet to deal her the typical freshman fade. And 6-foot-4 post Regina Rogers, who fought stamina issues for most of her first two seasons at UW, has yet to show visible signs of fatigue.
“You want to keep playing,” said Rogers, a senior who played at UCLA as a freshman. “So even if you’re tired, you just have to push through.”
Rogers, who has often described her own build to that of her father, former NFL lineman Reggie Rogers, is in the best shape of her UW career but is still having to push herself through to the finish line of an historically long season.
“We’re constantly talking to Regina,” said Davis, whose 16.0 points per game ranks second on the team behind Rogers’s 16.8. “Regina’s a big part of this team. The last thing that we need is for Regina to wear down and be down on herself mentally.
“Of course, physically, there’s nothing we can do about that. We definitely are always in her ear, telling her: ‘Hey, we need you. Hey, you’ve got this. Hey, you can do this.’ We always tell her that, and I think that’s really helped her.”
Coach Kevin McGuff said fatigue is not a concern for Rogers.
“Her conditioning is fine,” he said with a shrug last week. “She played 37 minutes against Oregon State (in a WNIT win last Tuesday) and looked pretty good doing it. So her conditioning level’s fine.”
McGuff was slightly more concerned with Davis and fellow freshman Aminah Williams, but only because the young duo had never played this much basketball in their careers.
“For the freshmen, it’s always a long year once you get to March because (in high school) their seasons are long done,” he said. “But the fact that the kids like each other, they like playing together, that’s a big part of how you feel this time of year. That has been a big part of keeping us going and keeping us fresh. There’s positive team chemistry. That helps as well.”
The Huskies have already matched a school record for games played in a season, and that doesn’t even include the eight-game trip to Scandinavia in August. Today’s game will be UW’s 35th of the college season, setting a new mark for the program.
“We’re all tired,” Davis said. “We’re all exhausted. That’s the one thing that we’ve put into practice: just stay together. Win or lose, tired or not, it’s about sticking through it together.”
For Davis and some of her young teammates, there’s always next year.
But Rogers and UW’s other three seniors aren’t sure what their basketball future holds, so their only option is to keep playing every game like it may be their last.
“It’s all part of playing,” Rogers said of fighting through fatigue this time of year. “I don’t want it to end. It’s my senior year.”