Gonzaga (2-1) doesn’t play until Sunday against Portland State and Seattle University (1-3) is hosting its annual Thanksgiving Tournament at Connolly Center this weekend, leaving Washington and Washington State to tease with images of warmth around the holiday.
Both teams headed for sunnier destinations this week. WSU (2-2) begins play in the Paradise Jam against Marquette on Thursday while UW tips-off against UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. on Wednesday to open a two-game swing through Southern California. The Huskies play at San Diego State on Saturday.
Since the games wrap Thanksgiving, the teams mentioned forming a tighter family bond with each other. Players describe both squads as close, UW first forming its bond during its Scandinavian tour in August. They’ll spend the holiday at manager Amanda Johnson’s home in Manhattan Beach. Well, everyone except first-year assistant coach Kevin Morrison, whose fiancee is expecting their first child this week.
“We really got to know each other, spending two weeks together,” said Mackenzie Argens of going 5-0 while trekking through Sweden, Denmark and Norway. “You experience so many things together.”
This week coach Kevin McGuff said there’s a change in that it’s all business. But there’s still that family feel, calling on Sister Sledge’s “We are Family.”
As expected, McGuff switched the style up with how UW travels. There are itinerary printouts, no cell phones the day before games and uniformed dress code — although he’s claims to have gone soft by not making the Huskies sport business attire for travel as McGuff did for nine seasons at Xavier.
The road trip is the biggest challenge of the young season. UCSB (2-2) returns the bulk of a team that reached the WNIT last season, finishing as Big West regular-season co-champs. SDSU is 3-1, with an upset against then-No. 18 DePaul in the Rainbow Wahine Classic.
“With San Diego State, I know a couple of the players,” said UW freshman PG Jazmine Davis, who’s a native of San Jose, Calif. “We have to be smart with the ball, make great decisions. We can’t afford to a bunch of little mistakes. It could be as simple as putting your hands up on defense — we have to do everything the right way.”
Playing in Europe helped Davis get accustomed to running the team as a newcomer and develop chemistry with players like junior wing Jeneva Anderson. She missed part of last season with a hip injury and said she’s finally back to normal.
With a win Wednesday, the Huskies would match its longest streak from last season. Washington (2-1) hasn’t had a four-game win streak since 2006 under former coach June Daugherty, who’s currently head of WSU.
Around the Pac-12, it seems everyone ditched Mom’s turkey for warm weather. And Southern California could use a wishbone, quick. The Trojans (1-2) have slipped out of the polls after back-to-back losses to Nebraska and No. 10 Georgia (4-0). The hits will most likely continue as USC faces No. 4 Notre Dame (3-1) in the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas on Friday.
The Pac-12 is 30-10 overall after another week of nonconference play, getting solid play from Arizona (4-0) and Oregon State (4-0). But remember the Beavers were impressive last season out of conference and stumbled through Pac-10 play until a victorious matchup at Hec Ed.
Other Pac-12 teams are spending the holiday in Hawaii (Cal, which will come across former coach Joanne Boyle as her No. 22 Virginia squad also makes the trip) and Puerto Rico (Arizona State). You can check out the complete list here. To listen to UW play UCSB, click here.
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll return Friday with coverage from SU’s Turkey Jam. For ticket info, hearing you purchase one for admission to both games. Read more here.