Last week I caught up with the key 2007 recruiting class that dramatically shifted Washington’s program. Four players left in coach Tia Jackson’s first season, putting the Huskies behind in terms of what you’d expect from a coach in her third year.
Washington (9-14, 4-9 Pac-10), which is currently on a four-game losing streak, plays at UCLA on Thursday. While the Bruins (16-7, 9-3) could be the Pac-10’s second team in the NCAA tournament, Jackson is grasping at hopes of representing the conference in the WNIT or possibly the newly formed Women’s Basketball Invitational — a seeded, 16-team tournament.
A fifth player in Australian Nicole Romeo left the program after one season, citing culture and playing time as reasons for leaving. Well, a reader wanted to know how Romeo (pictured right) looked back on her decision to leave. I wasn’t able to connect with her in time for the original story, but here’s a Q&A;from Romeo.
She’s currently playing for the Canberra Capitals, the same squad as Storm star Lauren Jackson. A 5-foot-6 guard, Romeo said the team’s want to go with a bigger lineup has kept her off the travel roster this season. Romeo hopes coach Carrie Graf, a former Storm assistant and current Australian Olympic coach, will put her on the travel roster as the Capitals head into the playoffs Sunday.
How do you look back on your time at UW?
Gosh this is a tough question. There are times when I really do miss the UW, the girls, their parents and UW supporters. One thing I really miss is the training facilities and how well you get looked after. I look at the places I train in now and remember how I used to get handed cups of PowerAde and my ankles taped. Now I find myself running off to the trough (water fountain) to get a sip of water in an over-heated stadium. One thing I can honestly say is that I do not for one minute regret my decision to leave UW and I am really happy playing for the Canberra Capitals.
How has your WNBL season gone for you –highs, lows?
The WNBL season so far for me has been unreal. I’m playing under the Australian Olympic coach, who I’m constantly learning from, surrounded by some of Australia’s best athletes with six Opals on my team. And just to add to the mix, the best female player in the world, Lauren Jackson. Of course, with any team there are highs and lows and in my case the only low point at this stage is the challenge of trying to make the road trips with such a strong line up. But the positive thing about going up against such a strong line-up is that every day is a challenge and you are constantly working harder and harder to get better. I know I am improving every day and that keeps me motivated.
Do you miss American college ball?
The basketball itself I don’t really miss, it’s more the facilities and how the players are really looked after. I still workout in my number 11 singlet (Washington jersey) and have flashbacks of my experiences. One thing that always sticks in my mind is how hyped the girls would get running out of the locker room and Morty (Sarah Morton) and Sami (Whitcomb) nearly killing me as they chest bump each other in excitement. Again, as I’ve said above I don’t miss the college game nor regret my decision to leave UW. The WNBL this year is stronger than ever with a lot of the WNBA girls coming back to the league such as Lauren Jackson and Suzy Batkovik-Brown, who you guys would be familiar with from the Storm.
Is talk of a “Lauren Jackson” mania true?
The Jackson mania! Haha yes, this is very true. She probably wouldn’t like me saying this statement is true as she is quite shy, but since she has joined the league the crowd numbers around the country have increased dramatically. Lauren is an amazing ambassador for not only Australian basketball, but for women’s basketball world-wide and us Aussies couldn’t be happier having her home. After games she finds herself sitting for hours signing autographs and photos, always with a smile on her face. So, she is definitely someone to aspire to be and a great role model for the kids.
How has your experience playing with her effected you?
At first it was kind of intimidating playing with the best player in the world, especially as a point guard. I found myself always wanting to give her the ball, along with the perfect pass with no mistakes! As the season has gone on, she has just become apart of our team and makes everyone around her better. I must say she sets the hardest screen I’ve experienced in my lifetime and that has definitely effected me! However, on a serious note, it is an amazing experience playing with her. She definitely has white-line fever, so I am glad she is on my team! Now the goal is to win the WNBL championship.