March 12, 2010
LOS ANGELES - Surrounded by her players, Huskies Coach Tia Jackson asked the departing seniors to offer a message to the remaining players who will take over the leadership mantle next season.
"Leave everything you have on the floor," said Sara Mosiman, fighting tears. "No regrets."
Throughout the season, the Washington women's basketball team (12-17, 7-12) showed it was capable of playing with any team in the Pac-10 Conference. The team reeled off two separate three-game winning streaks, including an impressive sweep of the Arizona schools at home in January, the first time the Huskies had broomed their desert brethren since the 2001-02 season. Sami Whitcomb exhibited strong leadership in her final season at UW, knowing when to take over games and when to defer when defenses had geared up to stop her. Now she'll pass the torch to a strong sophomore class, who along with junior Sarah Morton, will be the pillars of the program in the 2010-11 season.
Whitcomb exits Washington as one of the top players in women's basketball history. The Ventura, Calif., native scored 1,205 points, a mark that ranks 16th in UW history. She's fourth in career 3-pointers with 173, and defined herself as one of the more explosive players in the Pac-10, capable of reeling off one scoring outburst after another. The league's coaches rewarded Whitcomb with an All-Pac-10 selection, the first in her career and a fitting reward for her impact on the team.
When she needed to take over games, Whitcomb was lethal. She pumped in a career-high 32 against Washington State in Pullman, taking over the game in the latter stages of the second half. She also knocked in the game-winning 3 pointer against BYU in the second game of the season, which was part of a 12-point scoring barrage for Whitcomb in the game's final four minutes. Not only was Whitcomb the team's leading scorer, but she headed the stat sheet in rebounds and assists.
But Whitcomb also learned in her senior year to integrate others into the offense. The Huskies had a strong post presence all season with Regina Rogers, who improved her conditioning over the course of Pac-10 play to become a force on the inside. In the span from Jan. 1 to the end of the season, Rogers put in extra work outside of practice, shedding 30 pounds. She scored a career-best 23 points against Washington State to extend the Huskies' streak over the Cougars to 30 games. With another sophomore compliment polishing her game in Kristi Kingma, the Huskies enter next season with plenty of promise.
Kingma fashioned herself into a more complete player this season. While she's known as a pure shooter, Kingma worked diligently on defense and led the team in steals, something Whitcomb had done the previous two years. At 5-10 with long arms, Kingma has the basketball IQ to operate in whatever defense the Huskies call. At the end of the year, it was no surprise the coaches named her as an Honorable Mention All-Defensive member. The Mill Creek, Wash., native also improved on the offensive end, surpassing all of her scoring numbers from her freshman season. When the opposition would zone the Huskies (something the Huskies saw a lot early on), Kingma helped break the defenses by finding the soft spots and hitting open jumpers, averaging 9.2 points. She also improved over the course of the year as a rebounder/distributor.
Next year, Kingma will be asked to shoulder an even bigger piece of the scoring load.
Another sophomore who stepped up over the course of the year was Mollie Williams, whose freakish athleticism and wingspan make her particularly devastating in pressing/trapping situations. Williams is a strong rebounder and set a career-high with 10 boards against USC in front of family and friends at the Galen Center earlier in the season.
The Huskies finished the year tied for sixth in the Pac-10, despite having a brace of injuries. Liz Lay played in just three games before undergoing surgery for severe patellar tendinitis. Both Lydia Young and Amanda Johnson did not play a game after knee injuries wrecked their seasons. Impressively, Sara Mosiman was able to return after a doctor implanted a titanium rod in her leg, an operation that typically spells the end of an athlete's season.
While the Huskies season came to a close late at night at the Galen Center, the team had plenty of positives to build on for next year. And this year provided plenty of sterling moments to lend evidence to that belief.