McGuff Preps For Apple Cup Introduction
Jan. 13, 2012
SEATTLE - Kevin McGuff already had his introduction to the Palouse when the Huskies traveled to play Idaho earlier this season. But the first-year Washington coach has yet to experience one of the great rivalries in the Pac-12 - the Apple Cup.
The moment is now here.
Both programs meet this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on Friel Court, a game that will be televised on ROOT Sports, in addition to its usual place on radio station 1150 AM KKNW. Off to one of their best starts in league history, Washington State (9-7, 3-1) has a balanced roster full of matchup nightmares. The Cougars used a front-loaded preseason schedule as prep work for the Pac-12, and the move now appears to be paying dividends for the senior-laden group, all members of coach June Daugherty's first recruiting class.
More so than ever, this is a dangerous trip for the Huskies (9-5, 1-3), and McGuff knows it.
"They have a veteran club. They have a lot of seniors who have been there and understand what June wants out of the team," McGuff said. "They play incredibly hard and are very aggressive. Injuries aside, it'll be about us going well and having to play really well to win."
Injuries have been a dark cloud hanging over the Husky program this week following the news that sophomore forward Marjorie Heard tore her left ACL during practice on Monday. Compounding the matter is Regina Rogers's hamstring ailment, which leaves her questionable for this weekend's matchup. Rogers leads the Huskies in scoring with 16.2 points per game, in addition to topping the nation in field goal percentage.
The Cougars are dealing with injury woes of their own. Redshirt sophomore guard Ireti Amojo will miss the remainder of the season after tearing her ACL in WSU's first Pac-12 game. The German international was averaging 9.0 points per game, but more importantly was the Cougars' leading 3-point shooter, making 50 percent of her attempts.
Washington State has been successful this season because the team has not relied on any particular player. Jazmine Perkins has stepped up in Amojo's absence, giving the Cougars a scrappy, veteran presence on both ends of the court.
"They don't win because one person dominates the game," McGuff said. "They win because they share the ball well, execute on offense and they can make shots."
The Huskies have had success this year being efficient on offense and making plays on defense, embracing a rough-and-tumble brand. In a stunning loss to Utah, the Dawgs held their opponents to just 7.7 percent shooting in the second half, and played excellent defense on what would be the game-tying 3 with 3.6 seconds left. The commitment to that end of the court is what McGuff believes will help his team find stability after some crushing losses in conference.