UW women’s basketball team hopes to fix recent mistakes

  • By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
  • Monday, December 21, 2009 9:23pm
  • SportsSports

Tia Jackson’s weather report was quick and to the point on Monday night.

“Brisk. Extremely cold, with lots of snow on the ground,” the University of Washington women’s basketball coach said via telephone from the team hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich.

When it comes to forecasting her team as it heads into tonight’s final game of the pre-conference schedule, well, that takes a little more explaining.

Coming off a 17-point loss to 16th-ranked Michigan State over the weekend, the Huskies stayed out of the cold while spending their between-games time working through a myriad of issues. Most of them have to do with the fundamentals of the game.

“It’s been really getting back to the basics for us, just playing basketball,” senior Sami Whitcomb said. “We’ve been thinking way too much out there, and it’s caused a lot of turnovers and un-smart basketball.”

Jackson saw several issues spring up in the loss to Michigan State, whether it was the 22 offensive rebounds the Spartans had, UW’s 19 turnovers or a cold-shooting first half that saw the Huskies hit just five of 27 shots from the field.

The repercussion of that performance has been a few intense practices designed to get the Huskies (4-5) back in touch with the finer points of the game.

“Basketball 101,” Jackson said. “… Ideally, you don’t want to see glimpses of growth; you want to see constant improvement. We had a little bit of a setback.”

While Jackson acknowledged that facing the 16th-ranked team in the country offered a legitimate excuse for on-court troubles, she refused to cast aside Saturday’s loss as just a bump in the road.

“They’re a team known for playing down to their competition,” Jackson said of the Spartans (8-4). “We knew they were going to kind of underestimate us, and they did. But we still lost by 17 points. It’s a 40-minute game, and we might’ve played three minutes of Husky basketball that night.”

It’s safe to assume that the Huskies will be relieved to get back on the floor for a game rather than endure another one of Jackson’s practices. Western Michigan (4-6) should provide an opportunity for growth, although nothing is guaranteed with this year’s Huskies.

“We had a fairly disappointing showing against Michigan State, and we’ve had two days to bounce back and learn,” Jackson said, “so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the hard work carries over.”

Tonight’s game marks the final time the Huskies will play before opening conference play at Oregon on Jan. 1. So Western Michigan represents a chance to get things right heading into the Pac-10 schedule.

“I think we’re still definitely not where we need to be, and we all know that,” said Whitcomb, who is the Huskies’ only double-figure scorer at 13.3 points per game. “It’s been a really big week for us, as a team collectively. The Michigan State game was a really big eye-opener, and we talked a lot about it, and I think we’ve just made some important revelations.

“If we don’t make improvements, we can’t expect any more than last year. We’re at a point now where we need to make changes. It’s important that we end the (non-conference) season on a positive note heading into Pac-10.”

Of note

Western Michigan’s roster includes twins Miame and Robin Giden, and the Huskies had better not confuse them. Miame Giden is the Broncos’ leading scorer, at 16.2 points per game, while Robin Giden is a reserve who averages just 2.0 points per game. … UW’s Jackson has had a losing record heading into the Pac-10 schedule in each of her first two seasons. With a win tonight, she would lead the 5-5 Huskies into conference play.

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