Nov. 3, 2009
By Michael JeremiahTia Jackson was adamant that Husky fans would see a new and improved version of Husky basketball when she took the podium on Tuesday afternoon for media day.
"This team, this year, has taken on the approach of expecting bigger and better things," said Jackson. "We've instilled in our mind that this is a new year, and a new team. I think we have the tremendous benefit of returning 12 veterans, some really good guard play that is now complimented by some pretty dominant post play. We're really eager to get started."
Part of the improvement in inside play comes from the long awaited addition of sophomore center Regina Rogers to the active roster. Rogers sat out last year due to NCAA rules following a transfer from UCLA in 2007. The excitement surrounding the combination of Rogers and veteran Husky posts like Laura McLellan and Mackenzie Argens has been building throughout the offseason and into training this fall.
According to Jackson, Rogers has earned a starting role, and will join two seniors in the backcourt, guards Sara Mosiman and Sami Whitcomb along with junior ball handler Sarah Morton. The fifth starting spot is still in the air, and if the competition in practice is any indication, the position will be earned, not given. Whitcomb's play was a bright spot for the Huskies last year, as she led the team in scoring and was able to take over the action of the game at times in 2008. Jackson praised Whitcomb's improved court vision as important to making the talent wing player one of the best distributors on the team.
Mosiman, a physical guard that has played a complimentary role in the past, is healthy and ready to look for her own opportunities to help the team as the team's starting shooting guard.
Now in the third year under Coach Jackson, the Huskies seem more comfortable with the hard-nosed defensive minded system that Jackson brought in with her. A host of experienced players has helped the Huskies prepare and Jackson sees the change necessary for improvement.
"The team can take more ownership of what's going on out there," said Jackson. "They know the system well. They've taken the freshman under their wings...They ask the right questions and go out and execute with tremendous work ethic."
Despite the roster additions and veteran improvements, talent has not been the issue at Washington. The Huskies sported one of the youngest teams in the conference last year, and a hard fought season left the Huskies with plenty of experience, but also some obstacles mentally.
Coach Jackson and her staff fought through these obstacles with their players to get the team in the position for a successful season.
"We expect to win," said Jackson. "Our mindset is better. We are tougher mentally. We started the year by reading 'Believe to Achieve' by Howard White. That was probably the biggest thing, to make sure that our minds were proper and in as good of condition as our physical bodies. We are continuing to build on that."
The Huskies are brimming with excitement from their progress in practice, but the next step is taking it to the court when the Huskies play host to Seattle Pacific University at the Bank of America Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The two home exhibitions against Seattle Pacific this week and Corban College next Monday will give the Huskies the chance to see the fruits of their hard work. For Whitcomb, it's also about getting out there to play basketball with an exciting team ready for bigger and better things in 2009.
"There's something that we've created, an excitement about playing together," said Whitcomb. "Whether it was open gym this summer or against alumni. We want to be on the court to play and we want to be out there together. We're excited about these exhibition games. We could be playing a high school team and it wouldn't matter. We just want to play together, get out there and start the season off."