Nov. 6, 2009
SEATTLE - There's a growing, albeit humorous, debate on the Washington women's basketball team over whether Laura McLellan really does have the right to launch 3-pointers if open.
At least that's how the coaches and players jokingly presented it following their 69-61 win over Seattle Pacific on Thursday night at Bank of America Arena. The question came up when the senior forward, known more for her dizzying array of post moves, drained a 3-pointer at the tail end of the Huskies win over the D-II Falcons. McLellan caught the ball on the wing, had room, but wasn't quite sure what to do with the ball next.
"I saw that no one was guarding me, so I just let it go," said the senior, who was officially 0-for-2 from distance during her first three years on Montlake. "I don't even think I knew it was a three."
The Huskies have a rule that if you want to be a distance shooter, you have to be able to hit 7-of-10 from beyond the arc. Only then will Coach Tia Jackson give a player the green light to let it fly in a game. So the rule came into play one day when McLellan was casually practicing her shot from deep and teammate Sami Whitcomb noticed she was making them with regularity.
"She said, `Wow, you are making a lot,'" McLellan said, grinning. "I was like, `I know.' It's weird. So I called Coach J over and told her to watch."
Despite leading the Huskies in scoring against SPU with 18 points, McLellan started the game on the bench as the team decided to roll out a sleeker lineup against a similar-sized SPU squad. No matter, as McLellan felt she could better absorb the flow of the game from the bench anyway.
"I like coming off the bench and seeing how the defense plays," McLellan said, "and seeing whether or not they're going to front or play behind. I don't mind."
When Regina Rogers picked up her second foul minutes into the contest, Jackson tapped McLellan to fill the role in the post. McLellan was able to snake inside for layups, hit short jumpers and generally make life miserable for the opposing post.
"We knew we could go inside," Jackson said. "With Regina picking up those early two fouls, we ended up looking at that second option with Laura, who was our second leading scorer returning. She did some good things; tremendous hands inside. They had a hard time stopping her."
McLellan spent the summer refining her post moves as she tried to become more of a back-to-the-basket type player. This included learning how to make quick moves once she received the ball in the post, as well as adding more up-and-under moves to her game. McLellan had a few of those moves on display against SPU, including a nice shot-fake and duck inside for a layup in the first half.
The Huskies are still formulating lineup combinations, which might still change depending on the opponent/situation. But a player of McLellan's caliber, who averaged 8.7 points per game in just about 21 minutes per is a luxury in any given situation.
The women's team had Friday off, but will be introduced later in the evening during one of the intermissions of volleyball's game against Stanford. The team will then practice both Saturday and Sunday before turning around facing Corban College on Monday in their exhibition finale.