Jan. 5, 2010
Coach Jackson Press Conference (subscription required)
SEATTLE - When it comes to serious knee injuries, sometimes all the strengthening and rehab an athlete does is not enough. There are times when the mental hurdle alone is enough to limit the player on the floor.
This was exactly the scenario with Mackenzie Argens. Finally healthy and feeling confident following her recovery from a torn ACL, Argens is poised to have a career season for the Huskies.
"I agree," Argens said. "I'm a little more calm down low and I feel like I'm going up a lot stronger (with the ball)."
In the last three games, the 6-3 sophomore has been the go-to catalyst on offense. In those games, she's scored a combined 47 points, which is half of her total from all of last season. Against the Oregon schools on the road, Argens shot 68 percent (13-of-19) from the floor, mostly on a variety of close-range jumpers and layups. Her watershed moment, though, came against Oregon at Mac Court on New Year's Day. In the fast-paced game with the Ducks, Argens ran the floor well and feasted on easy layups. By the time the final buzzer went off, Argens had scored a career-best 21 points, topping the personal high (16) she set on Dec. 22 against Western Michigan. It's not just points either. Argens collected 25 rebounds in those three games, including a career-high nine against the Ducks.
It was the type of performance the program has felt Argens was capable of since she enrolled out of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, a local powerhouse.
But if the Huskies want to build a winning streak in the Pac-10, they'll need more consistent play from Argens, who is become more than a capable complement to leading scorer Sami Whitcomb.
The Washington women's basketball begins their first conference home series this weekend as they host the Arizona schools. At 6-6, the Huskies come into these games winner of four out of their last six and coming off a 1-1 split against the Oregon schools in the opening weekend of Pac -10 play.
The emphasis was on playing at home, which the team hasn't done since the finale of the Husky Classic on Nov. 29 - a span of almost six weeks. In between, the Huskies have gone 4-3 in those road games, including a spectacular win over Oregon State in Corvallis on Jan. 3.
"It is so nice to be home," Jackson said. "As much as we've had a couple practices a week here, it would be nice to be in front of our own fans screaming for us. We are excited."
The laborious road trip helped Coach Jackson learn more about her team's character. "The team has tremendous resilience" says Jackson. Players came together and showed toughness by battling and leaving all the effort on the court.
The genuine excitement about being home increased the already optimistic views on how the team is playing, especially the play of Argens as of late.
"We've been practicing a lot. The guards getting the ball inside and sealing and seeing what is opening down low, just practicing a lot on that," Argens said.
Coming off the big weekend, Mackenzie expects more attention down in the low post. With the Huskies impressive post play, the guards will be important for having success this weekend.
Both Arizona schools are coming into Seattle after being swept by UCLA and USC. Poor shooting and turnovers were the commonality for losing in both games. However, both teams hope to use one of their strengths to rebound.
Although they have been struggling, Husky players know this will be a tough and physical series. Keys to being successful are to, as Argens put it: "Come at them hard. Be the aggressors and be the ones to show them that we've come to play."