Jan. 26, 2010
SEATTLE - Although the rivalry has been one-sided for much of its history, the Husky-Cougars game in women's basketball remains a circle-worthy date on the calendar on Montlake. This season is no exception.
"Rivalries are always fun," said Huskies head coach Tia Jackson. "You want to look at it like it's just another game, but it never is. This will be a fun game for us to hopefully bounce back from this skid we've been on the past couple of games."
The Huskies (8-10, 3-5 Pac-10) will bus over the mountain pass to Pullman for their game against Washington State on Friday at 5 p.m. The game will be televised live on FSN NW. Brad Adams and Francis Williams will have the call.
On the line is a 28-game winning streak for the Huskies, which nearly came to an end last year when the Cougars took a late, 55-54, lead over the Dawgs at Beasley Coliseum. Eventually, Washington was able to pull away on the strength of some timely buckets.
The winning streak is dead issue for the Huskies. They'd rather talk about snapping a recent four-game losing streak. In three of those games (at Cal, USC and UCLA), the Huskies held leads going into the half.
"I'm not even conscious of the record," Jackson said. "We shouldn't go in thinking about it. Again, it's a rivalry. You strip yourself of all the things that happened in the past; it's just that game, in that moment, in that day."
The players would agree - it's a rivalry in every sense of the word.
For those who grew up on the West Coast, the game is an extension of summer-league AAU rivalries that have been forged over the years. For example, Huskies guard Kristi Kingma recently went up and down the Cougars' roster, noting players she had either seen in high school or during summer-league competition.
The Cougars roster features four players from The Evergreen State, including one from the Puget Sound area (Katie Grad, Lake Tapps). But given that both rosters are littered with players from up-and-down the West Coast, there is a lot of familiarity between the players going in.
"It's the one I've always looked forward to," Kingma said, who was recruited heavily by both schools.
There are other connections as well, especially when you consider the coaching staffs.
The Cougars are led by June Daugherty, who coached for 11 seasons at Washington. The original contingent of the senior class (Sami Whitcomb, Laura McLellan and Sara Mosiman) was recruited by in large by either Daugherty or her husband Mike, who holds the same assistant coach's position in Pullman that he did in Seattle.
At first, Whitcomb said it was weird to see the coach who recruited her on the sidelines of the Huskies biggest rivals. After her freshman year, though, it became less personal and more about business.
Nevertheless, it's the week when Washington State comes on the schedule where the Huskies' leading scorer (13.8 ppg) gets a little more amped than normal.
"I have so much fun in these games," said Whitcomb, who scored a team-high 18 in the Huskies last game against WSU. "Just the competition and the environment, and both teams in the way they come to battle in these games more than others. There's some trash talking...it's really fun to compete in that environment."