Last Thursday was a banner day for the University of Washington women’s basketball program. That’s when Kelsey Plum, who just completed a storied Huskies career in which she set a new NCAA record for career points, was selected first overall in the WNBA draft by the San Antonio Stars. It not only was the first time a Washington player was selected first overall, it was the first time the UW had a player selected in the first round.
But April as a whole for the Huskies? Not so much. The month has seen a steady exodus of figures who brought the Washington program back to prominence. First, there was the departure of head coach Mike Neighbors for Arkansas. Neighbors resurrected over a program that hadn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2007, reaching the Final Four for the first time in school history in 2016 and going 29-6 this season. Then there was the loss of the team’s two anchors, Plum and Chantel Osahor, to graduation.
Can Washington maintain its momentum? New head coach Jody Wynn, who arrived from Long Beach State and was introduced Monday, has her hands full, given the loss of the team’s heart and soul. Freshman guard Aarion McDonald showed signs she could be a future star, but how the team will replace the production of Plum and Osahor remains a mystery.
Can UW women’s hoops remain relevant? It may be asking too much for the 2017-18 Huskies to match the team’s accomplishments from the past two seasons. But the Huskies have won 20-plus games for six straight seasons, including the two prior to Neighbors’ arrival, so that seems a reasonable bar to set. So this week’s poll:
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) April 17, 2017