By John Sleeper
SEATTLE – So, on whom does one key?
That’s the question of the day for the University of Washington women’s basketball team as the Huskies (5-3 Pacific-10 Conference play, 10-7 overall) host fourth-ranked Stanford (7-0, 17-1) today at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The obvious candidates for extra attention are forward Nicole Powell (15.8 points, 10 rebounds, six assists a game), the best all-around player in the conference, or Lindsey Yamasaki, who lit up Washington for 34 points last season in Seattle, a total that included a conference-tying nine 3-pointers.
The trouble for the Huskies is, nearly every Cardinal has the 3-point shooting ability to extend Washington’s matchup zone to the breaking point. Of the six top 3-point shooters in the Pac-10, four are from Stanford.
Yet, UW coach June Daugherty remains confident.
“I think they’re beatable,” Daugherty said. “I think every team in the country is beatable. I don’t think we should get caught up in what they do, but what we do.”
That would be to play the kind of in-your-face, pressure defense that held Cal to 21-percent shooting Thursday night. It also means the Huskies need to at least play the Cardinal even-up on the boards, an Achilles’ heel for Washington all season.
The thrust will be to keep the physical Cardinal from crashing the offensive boards. Powell, Yamasaki, forward T’Nae Thiel and center Bethany Donaphin are fearsome rebounders.
“We have to force them to make shots that they don’t get open looks at, because they are that good,” Daugherty said. “The other thing is that we have to limit their offensive rebounds. If they get one shot, fine, but we can’t give up second shots.”
The Huskies will rely on sophomore center Andrea Lalum, primarily, to get more than her share of rebounds. But she’ll need help. Look for Washington to give extended playing time to its best rebounders on the front line, including Meadowdale High grad Kellie O’Neill, Sarah Keeler, Cheryl Sorenson and Giuliana Mendiola.
“It’s going to be a challenge, because they have five players who have great all-around games,” Lalum said. “Offensively and defensively, they’re a threat all-around. But it’s something that we’re going into the game expecting. It’s not going to be any big surprise.”
Local ties: Stanford has two reserves from the Seattle area. Cori Enghusen, a 6-foot-7 senior center from Bothell, averages 4.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots a game. She is second in the Pac-10 in blocked shots. In a the Cardinal’s 104-57 victory at Washington State Thursday night, Enghusen finished with a career-high 24 points.
Enjoli Izidor, a 6-foot guard from Seattle, has started 10 games at off-guard, but now comes off the bench. She averages 4.1 points a game. Izidor finished with 13 points, six rebounds and two assists against the Cougars Thursday night.
Point guard out: Sophomore Susan King, slated to be the starting point guard, is out for the season with a stretched anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. It isn’t the first such injury to the same spot. She missed all but the first nine games last year because she tore the ligament. Then, King missed the first eight games this year after arthroscopic surgery to clean out floating cartilage in the right knee. She played two games after coming off surgery this year before the latest injury, Dec. 19, put her out for the year.
Kelly Suminski, a freshman from Chester, N.J., has been starting in King’s place.