2015 Women's Basketball Media Day: June Daugherty thinks Washington State will surprise
SAN FRANCISCO — Losing her three best scorers from last year, you might think Washington State head coach June Daugherty would shy away from giving her team high expectations. Everyone else has – the Cougars are picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12 after leading scorer Lia Galdeira decided to turn pro and Tia Presley and Shalie Dheensaw graduated.
But Daugherty is never one to shy away from making a statement, and by golly, she likes her team.
“We’re going to be the surprise team in the Pac-12,” Daugherty said at 2015 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. No “I think,” just “we are.”
She has her reasons to be excited, too. Although the departed Galdeira, Presley and Dheensaw accounted for about two-thirds of the Cougs’ scoring in 2014-15, Daugherty likes the depth she has on the Palouse.
“As a staff, we feel we have 10 starters right now,” Daugherty said at 2015 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. “That’s a testament to the offseason work we have put in and the recruiting base [we have].”
A couple of particularly intriguing prospects are imports Borislava Hristova, a 6-foot Bulgarian forward who is the No. 1 overall international recruit for her age according to NetScouts Basketball International, and Maria Kostourkova, a 6-foot-4 center who is the fourth-best international collegiate prospect, according to NetScouts Basketball International.
“She can score the ball in a ton of ways,” Daugherty of Hristova, who the coach calls “Bobby” (“We give them nicknames,” Daugherty said of the international players with tough-to-pronounce names). Some who have seen Hristova have compared her to Elena Delle Donne (not a bad comparison).
The Cougars also figure to get a defensive boost from first-year assistant coach Rod Jensen, who has earned a reputation as a defensive guru with his matchup zone. Daugherty says the Cougars will start the season running a player-to-player defense but will employ more of Jensen’s principles as the season goes on.
“I can’t wait to find out the rules on that matchup,” Daugherty said of Jensen’s defense.
The Cougars will look to start surprising the rest of the conference with their Nov. 13 opener against UC Santa Barbara.