Seattle University coach Joan Bonvicini meant well. Looking around at the men’s postseason buffet — including a possible expanded NCAA, the burgeoning CBI, and NIT — Bonvicini had a rightful thought.
“Why don’t women have more postseason tournaments?” she said. Thus the Women’s Basketball Invitational was born. It’s a 16-team tournament that’ll be seeded and intends to compete with the Women’s NIT, which bases a lot of its competition on which school can pay the fees.
The WNIT is expanding to 64 teams this season, which means there will be 144 postseason slots to fill. Washington was contacted about the WNIT, but seriously, do you want to see UW or even Washington State in the postseason?
The Huskies have an RPI rating of 140 and their current 9-16 record has a winning percentage that’s ranked 259th in the country. Yet, because the Pac-10 conference is competitive and nearly all of the Big 12 teams will advance to the NCAA tournament, there’s a chance UW could continue its season beyond the conference tournament.
Of course Washington (9-16, 4-11) would have to win some games. Only that’s not a stretch since the Huskies are 2-1 against their final three opponents and play the three-game stretch at home. UW is 4-5 at Hec Ed this season.
And coach Tia Jackson feels the team is improving despite losing 10 of its past 11 games.
“I don’t really define what we do by ‘Ws,'” she said of keeping score. “I don’t think our hard work is contingent upon whether or not we win or lose. I definitely feel that what we put forth, we will reap the benefit.
“A lot of times I feel our players, they need those wins because they’re 18-year-old girls. But it’s our job as coaches to help them understand that as long as you can see the growth, then the benefit will come. And I think it will come. This year there’s a lot of games left.”
But the postseason? And is that better for a team’s improvement than regrouping for next season?
Bonvicini hinted at needing to make a call for Cal State Bakersfield, which is 16-10 as an independent and wants to advance to the postseason. Would the Roadrunners benefit more from a berth more than the Huskies?
Watching the two teams, I’d say yes. CS Bakersfield knows how to close out games and has experienced some success. A berth seemingly could draw more attention to the school and help build for the future.
Washington knows it flubbed more than a few games this season and a berth just doesn’t seem deserving. Add the injuries and it rest for next season sounds better for the program more accustomed to NCAA berths.
And Washington will host the opening two rounds of the NCAA tourney.
ESPN has locals No. 19 Gonzaga and Eastern Washington going to Stanford, Calif. while Vanderbilt, Texas A&M;, Cal Poly, and James Madison are projected to play in Seattle.
Speaking of the Zags, PG Courtney Vandersloot was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week and a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award. Vandersloot, who leads the nation in assists (9.3) and is second nationally in steals (3.6), was one of eight players named on Tuesday.