Feb. 10, 2010
By Jerome Johnson
SEATTLE - One of the most decorated Husky women's basketball players during the 1980s was Lisa Oriard. The Spokane native played a number of different sports while attending Gonzaga Prep High School, but basketball became her calling. A combination of high school and AAU put her in the national spotlight. Scholarship offers from Division 1 universities started piling up, but she passed on offers from Montana, Idaho and San Francisco State to move west and become a Husky.
There was something special about the University of Washington that caught her eye. Although basketball had been her gateway to college, academics played an essential role in deciding which school she would attend.
"I also chose it [Washington] because of its academics. I wanted to make sure that I got a good education so I would have opportunities outside of college," says Oriard. With women's basketball making the jump from the NorPac Conference into the Pac 10 Conference, the potential for greater challenges arose on the basketball court. "I was impressed with the team and the future of the program and I thought I would have an opportunity to play but not step right in and have to dominate," says Oriard.
Oriard was motivated to succeed from day one. She was driven by the fact that her position was open due to the graduation of forward Karen Murray. Within the first four or five games, she became the starting forward and made an impact right away. The team had a magnificent regular season, but fell short in the first round of the NCAA tournament, finishing with a 26-2 record. Oriard was the only Husky freshman to start on the 1984-85 NCAA Tournament.
Over her time at UW, her game improved and became more consistent. Her junior (1986-87) and senior (1987-88) years were the best years statistically. In both of those years she was named to the first and second All Conference Teams with her academic and playing performances. She was also named Pac 10 Player of the Month for January 1987 as well as Player of the Week for the week of February 2nd, 1987. The will and determination that she possessed lead her into becoming a co-captain.
A born leader who strives for excellence and the desire for success amongst herself and her teammates, Oriard did whatever she could to help her teammates succeed. In her senior year, she took on a mentor role for some of the younger players. "My hope was that I helped players have a positive experience," Oriard says. "Karen Deden, Traci Thirdgill, Jana Barmore, and Alison Carmer are the players that come to my mind."
After her playing days were over, Oriard shifted to coaching, and spent eight years coaching at the college level with stints at Whitworth, Boise State and Huskies rival Washington State Cougars.
Now she is a mother of two children and working as a Merchandise Account Manager at Costco Wholesale, and still remains close to the Washington program.
"Coach Tia Jackson has really reached out to the alumni since she came to the UW. It's been outstanding. We've all really appreciated it. It's brought us back into the program," says Oriard.
Oriard's illustrious career accomplishments solidified her as a Husky legend. She ranks 10th all time on the Huskies career free throw percentage (269-361, .745) and field goal percentage (441-907, .486). Scoring 1151 points (9.9 ppg) in her career places her at a milestone which only 22 others were able to complete. Her prolific scoring and great leadership lead the Huskies to a 72-20 record while she played. Without a doubt, what Oriard has done on and off the court shows why she was selected as a Husky Legend. She is arguably one of the most decorated Husky players in the last few decades