Davis's Star Brightens On Hostile Road Stage
Jan. 16, 2012
SEATTLE - The freshman may have delivered the stand-up performance. But make no mistake, this was a victory with senior leadership fingerprints all over it.
Jazmine Davis admittedly had no idea what to expect coming into her first Apple Cup game with rival Washington State. The San Jose, Calif., native figured it was just another game in the Pac-12 Conference, but it was a group of upperclassmen who quickly schooled the freshman on what the game signifies, particularly on the road in Pullman.
The message got through, as Davis scored 25 points and performed the heavy lifting on offense for a Husky team that had to go without Regina Rogers and her 16.2 ppg, because of a bruised hamstring.
Right from the tip, Davis displayed a sangfroid that sucked the hostile energy right out of Beasley Coliseum. She coolly maneuvered the ball up court against a trapping Cougars defense, which came into the game leading the league in steals. Despite not having Rogers to suction the attention off the perimeter, Davis was able to use ball screens and dribble-drives to find open looks.
Leading up to the game, the senior group of Rogers, Mollie Williams, Mackenzie Argens and Kristi Kingma (who is rehabbing from a torn ACL) continued to reassure Davis. During media breaks, they were in her ear. Even on the court, the communication between players was a calming influence.
"The seniors said that we all need to pull together, work on the things what we can control and we executed that in practice," Davis said. "And we did so [Saturday]."
Davis has been an illuminating presence for the Huskies all season, beginning when she nearly recorded a triple-double in her first collegiate game. Since then, the 5-8 Davis has displayed predatory instincts on the offensive end, along with the confidence to go against established Pac-12 players. Sure, she's had some hiccups - namely turnovers - but first-year coach Kevin McGuff has placed his upmost confidence in the rookie to execute his game plan.
"She's going to make mistakes, but I want her playing aggressively and I want the ball in her hands," said McGuff. "And she obviously made a lot of great plays and I think she has a chance to be a special player."
With her 13.6 ppg average, Davis is the Pac-12's top-scoring freshman, yet was not recruited by many of the league's programs out of Valley Christian high school until the Huskies made a hard push. Even the Division I program in her backyard (San Jose State) chose not to offer her a scholarship.
But what the Huskies discovered when Davis arrived on campus was a player that responded well to coaching. And McGuff has admitted at several points this year that he's often harder on his freshman point guard than any other player on the roster. He also knows she thrives on getting better.
Now Davis has the opportunity to return home as the Huskies travel to face the Bay Area schools this weekend. After successfully playing in the frenzied atmosphere at WSU, another test in her development will be to avoid the hype of performing in front of family and friends.
No sweat for Davis, who has learned that the game plan trumps spelled out by the Husky coaching staff is the roadmap to victory in the Pac-12 Conference. All she needs to do is execute it.
"It was intense (at Washington State), more intense than any other game we've played," Davis said. "McGuff just kept saying the team that plays the hardest in rivalries usually wins, and that was us."