#34 Washington Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Washington Huskies

Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-12 Conference
#34 Washington Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview
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Washington continued its climb back towards becoming a regular finisher in the top part of the Pac-12 Conference last season by getting signature wins over the likes of Texas A&M, Oregon State and Florida State. The Huskies also returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight seasons, but fell to Miami (FL) 86-80 in a hard fought loss. But with ten returning players in 2015-16, look for Washington to make plenty of noise in the Pac-12 conference once again this season.

2014-15 Record: 23-10, 11-7
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Neighbors
Coach Record:  104-64 at Washington, 104-64 overall

It starts with Kelsey Plum who is well on her way to smashing just about every offensive record in program history. Plum averaged just under 23 points per game and has the ability to put the team on her back and carry the load offensively. Last year at Oklahoma Plum scored a career high 45 points against the Sooners. The ability to take care of the basketball is another big time strength of the Huskies as they only turned the ball over 11.6 times per game. Free throw shooting last year helped Washington greatly as well as they shot 78 percent from the charity stripe. Experience is going to be huge for Washington with redshirt senior forward Talia Walton and redshirt sophomore guard Brianna Ruiz back in the starting lineup this season.

Rebounding the basketball is going to have be better this season if Washington is to win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament. Incoming freshman Deja Strother, who was a McDonald’s All-American as a high school senior, and junior Chantel Osahor will provide more size and athleticism down low to compete against teams with dominant post players. The ability to cut the field goal percentage defense down closer to 35 percent will help the Huskies be able to ramp up their transition game even more to create easy shots at the offensive end of the court.

Final Projection:
The non-conference schedule is very manageable for Washington as a neutral site matchup in Las Vegas against Syracuse and a visit from Oklahoma should be the toughest games in that portion of the schedule. One game that Washington can’t sleep on outside of those two games is an early December trip to play South Dakota. The Coyotes are expected to contend for the Summit League title. The conference schedule is a very streaky with three road games to start with. The swing stretch is going to be a five game homestead starting with the Arizona schools since it is going to be crucial for the Huskies to protect their home court as the back half of the conference schedule is very road heavy. The bottom line is to look for Washington to have another 20 plus win season and be right in the mix for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Kelsey Plum, Junior, Guard, 22.6 points per game
Brianna Ruiz, Redshirt Sophomore, Guard, 4.6 points per game
Talia Walton, Redshirt Senior Forward, 13.0 points per game
Chantel Osahor, Junior, Forward/Center, 5.1 points per game
Deja Strother, Freshman, Center, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.0 (25th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.2 (226, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.9 (56.6)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.7 (121,7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game:  7.9 (21,2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.4 (40,6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 78.0 (1,1)
Rebound Margin: -1.4 (218, 10)
Assists Per Game: 12.5 (186, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (7,1)

Madness 2015 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#51 Deja Strother


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