Dec. 29—Tina Langley can deal with the flight delays that caused a few Huskies who spent the holidays out of state with their families to report a little late when the Washington women’s basketball practice resumed this week.
Being tardy is one thing, but at this time last year, UW’s program was shut down for two weeks and forced to postpone its first four Pac-12 games that were never rescheduled.
“Last year, we returned sick and this year we returned delayed,” Langley said. “But that’s everyone across the country. I think every coach has the same concerns and the same stresses. It’s like, will my team return and will be healthy?”
Last season, Washington had a promising 5-3 nonconference record with Langley at the helm for the first year, but the Huskies never recovered from their extended layoff and started the Pac-12 season with 11 straight losses before finishing 2-12 in the conference.
This year, UW is off to another encouraging start at 9-2 and 1-0 in conference, including a surprising 82-66 beatdown of Washington State.
Aside from a 66-54 upset loss against Liberty, the Huskies are perfect at home, where they host Colorado (10-3, 0-1) at 2 p.m. Friday and No. 11 Utah on Sunday at noon.
“I love our conference,” Langley said. “The thing that I love is everyone is fighting really hard to be one of the best teams in the country so you’re going to face that night after night, nationally-ranked teams and really well-coached teams.”
It remains to be seen if the defensive dominance Washington exhibited at times during the nonconference season will carry over to league play.
The Huskies rank third in the Pac-12 in points allowed (55.9) behind Colorado (54.9) and USC (49.8). UW is also second in the conference and sixth nationally in rebound margin (plus 13.4).
“Where did we think we would be at this time of year?” Langley said. “To be honest with you, we didn’t know where exactly we would be. We had some ideas of the talent we had in the room. I think our chemistry came together really well.
“Our work based around our nonconference class schedule, I thought was as good as it can be, but I think we need more time together. So, I think where we are right now is where we can be. We have some things identified that we can grow in pretty fast over the next few weeks while our class schedules change and we get a little bit more time together.”
Langley also hopes more time at practice can help fix UW’s offensive woes.
Washington is last in the Pac-12 in scoring (67 points per game) and three-point shooting percentage (22.9%).
“We should be a little further along right now in knowing if this is a good shot or not a good shot,” Langley said. “We’re pushing hard during this break to try to get a little bit more fluidity and understanding what we want to do on that end of the floor so that we can be more sure.”
Langley said it’s paramount the Huskies limit their turnovers against the ballhawking Buffaloes, who rank third in the Pac-12 in steals (10.7 per game) and fourth in opponents’ turnovers (18.6).
Washington is 11th in the league in turnovers (16.6) and assists (13.5).
“I’m excited about the growth that this team continues to show,” Langley said. “The way that they’re committed to one another is really special. A lot of things can happen when you have that kind of culture.”
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