Feb. 9, 2010
By Michael Jeremiah
SEATTLE - The Washington Huskies return home after a weekend in the desert to face perhaps the toughest weekend of conference play when the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears visit Bank of America Arena.
Stanford (21-1, 11-0 in Pac-10) is the second-ranked team in the country, with their only loss coming against number-one Connecticut on the road. The Cardinal have only been tested twice in conference play, and are basically blowing Pac-10 opponents off the court with a tall line-up that matches height with skill.
"We have a tough challenge with them on Friday," said Coach Tia Jackson at her weekly press conference.
What the Cardinal possess in momentum, the Huskies counter with confidence of knowing they can play against any opponent. One of the two close games the Cardinal endured was against Washington on January 16 at Maple Pavilion., when the Huskies were within seven in the second half before eventually falling.
Christina Rozier scored 13 points in that effort to keep the game close, and although the loss broke a three-game winning streak, it didn't break the Huskies confidence against Stanford.
"We just know that we can compete with them," said Jackson. "I think it just says that across the board for most of the teams in the conference and across the country. We really have to play within ourselves and not make it about the Stanford across their chest.
"You can get caught up in that. At least it lets us know that in a hostile environment at their place, we can compete with a very good team."
Stanford presents match-up problems for any team, with All-American talent at just about every position. Perhaps their most dangerous attribute is their size, with three starters over 6-foot-2, including All-American Jayne Appel at 6-foot-4.
At Palo Alto in January, the Huskies tried to counter that size with their own group of post players. According to Coach Jackson, that was a mistake that lasted only a few minutes. While they may have the personnel to play that way, it's not the way the Huskies want to play.
Jackson declared, as she has all year, that the Huskies are at their best when they play their game instead of conforming to the opponent.
"We have to stick with our game and do our best to make it very tough," said Jackson. Whatever style the Huskies utilize against Stanford on Friday, the goal is simple. While it's not David versus Goliath, the nation would take notice if the Huskies were to put the first blemish on Stanford conference record.
The thought of the clock going to zero with the Huskies victorious puts a gleam in Jackson's eye, and although the Husky coach isn't making a prediction, she does have the picture in her mind.
"It would be remarkable," said Jackson. "It would be great for the city of Seattle and our fans. It's something that has been long awaited.
"Our kids could really take that and hang our hats on something that would be just remarkable. I can see the floor rushed right now and getting chill bumps thinking about it. It would just be remarkable for our players and all of our fans."