New head coach Tina Langley looks to bring 'efficient style of basketball' to Washington
When Tina Langley took over as the head coach at Rice for her first head coaching gig, she inherited a program that had just one winning season over the previous eight seasons and hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 10 years.
By the time she traded in the Houston-based school for Montlake, Langley had guided the Owls to five straight 20-win seasons, a WBI championship, a WNIT title and an NCAA Tournament appearance (it would have been two if it wasn’t for COVID) in her six years on the job.
Now at Washington, Langley’s job is to make that success at Rice translate to the toughest conference in the country.
“I think Washington basketball will be an efficient style of basketball,” Langley said at Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. “Very connected to one another, very team-oriented, but a fun style to see.”
Efficiency – offensively and defensively – was a hallmark of Langley’s at Rice. Entering last year’s WNIT title game against Ole Miss (won by Rice), Rice was one of four teams that ranked top 10 nationally in both field goal percentage and opponents’ field goal percentage.
Perhaps as encouraging as the offensive and defensive numbers is that she brought a couple of her Rice players with her to Seattle. While many would likely jump at the chance to play in the Pac-12, bringing Nancy Mulkey and Lauren Schwartz in tow shows an ability to connect with players and be a leader they want to follow.
“It really had to do with who Coach Langley is as a person,” Mulkey said when asked about why she decided to join Langley at Washington. “I think it’s very rare that you find a coach that cares for you on the court as well as off the court and cares about your aspirations beyond basketball. And so that was a major factor in coming to Washington and competing at the highest level that I can.”
The Langley era is only a handful of practices old, but the early returns on her hire have been positive. Langley was able to hold on to the 19th-ranked recruiting class in the country by Prospects Nation that features a pair of four-star talents in forward Marisa Davis-Jones and guard Avery VanSickle.
Junior forward Haley Van Dyke, a holdover from Jody Wynn’s tenure who led the Huskies in scoring last year, likes what she has seen so far and is optimistic that Washington will turn things around after an 11th-place Pac-12 finish in 2020-21.
“My expectations this year are really based upon how we’ve been practicing,” Van Dyke said. “We’ve had five official practices and we’ve gotten better each time. We have great chemistry on and off the court.”
“My expectations are high.”