By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Some unique paths will converge for the final time this afternoon at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, where the careers of five University of Washington women’s basketball players will be honored before the regular-season finale against UCLA.
Fifth-year senior Mackenzie Argens, fourth-year seniors Charmaine Barlow and Mollie Williams, transfer Regina Rogers and long-forgotten Class of 2008 member Liz Lay will make what is likely to be their final appearances at Hec Ed today at 2 p.m.
“We’ve learned a lot from each other,” Barlow said this week. “We’ve grown as a team and developed a lot of chemistry between each other.”
As the leading scorer and go-to player on this year’s Huskies, Rogers will have the biggest spotlight among the players who will be making their final home appearance — and not just because of the effect she’s had on the UW program. The Seattle native started her career at UCLA.
“It being the last game against UCLA is also something that’s important to me,” said Rogers, who ranks third in the Pacific-12 Conference in scoring, fifth in rebounding and first in field-goal percentage. “I really want to win. I’m going to miss this team. I’ve accomplished a lot this last year that I never thought I would accomplish. I just want this to be a great season, and so far I feel like it is.”
It should also be an emotional experience for fellow fifth-year senior Argens, who played four games in 2007-08 but eventually earned a medical redshirt because of a knee injury. She is the last remaining player from UW’s Class of 2007.
“It’s definitely going to be a sad (day), just because I’m going to miss it so much here,” said Argens, a 6-foot-2 Seattle native and former Roosevelt High School star. “It’s going to be crazy. Seeing my mom cry, I’ll cry. It’s just crazy how fast the five years have gone.”
The only two seniors who have spent the traditional four years playing basketball are also trying to figure out where the time went. Barlow, a Seattle native and former high school teammate of Rogers at Chief Sealth, and Williams, who grew up in Los Angeles, have avoided the serious injuries that abruptly ended the career of one member of their recruiting class (Lay) and delayed the senior season of another (former Jackson High star Kristi Kingma).
“I’ve never been so proud of this team,” said Barlow, a starting guard and defensive stopper for the Huskies. “The past three years, we’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve come a long way with all the controversy with the coaching change and all the ups and downs. Being here and finishing off the season that we did, I’m really proud of my team.”
Williams, who made recruiting visits to Arizona, Miami and San Jose State, said she hasn’t regretted her decision to come to UW from Southern California.
“You always think about what you could have done when you were younger, and decisions that you’ve made,” she said Thursday. “You think about how you could have had better success, especially when you look at the teams you were recruited by. But I don’t regret anything. It’s about family and friends, and basketball-wise, I’ve always loved it here.”
After Thursday night’s loss to USC, a game that may well have knocked UW out of contention for any smaller national postseason tournaments, Williams said she’s already started preparing for what today’s pregame ceremony might be like.
“I keep telling myself I’m not going to cry,” the 6-2 forward said. “I’m going to go back to my dorm room and let it all out. But I’ve had some time to think about all that has happened to me in my career here. It hasn’t really set in yet.”
For Lay, the experience on the basketball court was, in her own words, “tough.” Knee problems ended her career after a shortened sophomore season in 2009-10, and she spent this season working as a color commentator for Husky games on UWTV.
“It’s really been a blessing in disguise,” said the 6-1 Oklahoma City native, who plans to pursue a career in front of the camera. “I see my life going in another direction, finally, and I see some light at the end of the tunnel. I think everything happens for a reason, and I’m OK with that — finally.”
First-year coach Kevin McGuff said he’ll remember this year’s seniors for their willingness to accept a new coaching staff and lead the 2011-12 Huskies.
“I thought from Day 1 that we would either have success because of our seniors would buy in, and would really want to go out on a high note, or we wouldn’t because they wouldn’t be interested in whatever I was trying to do,” McGuff said. “To their credit, they’ve been great. I think they’re a resilient group.
“… It would’ve been really easy for any of them to just kind of coast through the year, get their degree and move on to whatever they want to do next. But it shows that they’re good kids, they want to be successful, they want to be a part of a team that wins. And they’ve put a lot into our season. It’s been about our seniors, and they’ve shown the way for the whole group. That’s what’s been fun.”
UW women (15-12, 7-10) vs. UCLA (14-14, 9-8)
Where: Hec Edmundson Pavilion
When: 2 p.m.
TV/Radio: UWTV/KKNW 1150 AM