Washington women's basketball showing commitment to improvement

Dhon Santos/Santos Photography

SAN FRANCISCO – A lot of changes have been made in Seattle for Washington women’s basketball. The obvious is a head coaching change from Kevin McGuff to former assistant Mike Neighbors. But another important shift has taken place within the team – a new commitment to improvement.

“We were hoping (the successor) was Coach Nabes. He’s the one person who would keep it all together,” said junior guard Jazmine Davis, last season’s leading scorer for the Huskies (19.3 ppg) and two-time All-Pac-12 performer in her first two collegiate seasons.

Before Neighbors – or “Coach Nabes,” as his players call him – was named Washington's new leader, the Huskies met as a team to discuss next steps for moving forward and team goals heading into the 2013-14 season.

“I was so glad to know that they were focused and wanted to invest in something greater in the summer,” Davis said Thursday at Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day at Pac-12 Studios.

With international experience and intense summer practice, the returning Huskies are bringing a new sense of commitment to their game, and with the seamless transition of Neighbors as head coach, a big year seems to be in store for Washington.

“They played lots of pick-up games, came in early and stayed late at the gym,” Neighbors said, “The group really stuck together during the transition. They went looking for games.”

In Neighbors' two seasons as an assistant at UW, he was instrumental in recruiting eight McDonald’s All-Americans and sending eight Huskies to the WNBA.

The 2013-14 Pac-12 women’s basketball coaches’ poll has the Washington women finishing fourth in conference play behind Stanford, California and Colorado, a huge improvement from their ninth-place projection last year.

“It’s nice to see that our hard work has not gone unnoticed,” Davis said.