The UW Women’s Basketball program is on the verge of the new 2018-2019 season, starting November 8th vs. Cal State Fullerton.
Last season’s team faced many obstacles that resulted in a limited number of uninjured and available players. Seven scholarship players were required to give maximum effort, they did, and by season’s end they showed tremendous improvement.
Coach Jody Wynn proved that she has the motivational leadership skills to lead a successful Power 5 program. However, this is Washington and success is an expectation.
When the curtain goes up on the 2018-2019 season, the Huskies should be much improved.
If they can be competitive in most of their games, it will be a solid step forward for Washington Women’s Basketball. Go Dawgs!
Here are six areas of improvement we are excited to see from Washington Huskies Women’s Basketball in Coach Jody Wynn’s second season.
ggressively Get Amber Melgoza the Ball in Scoring Position
Coach Wynn’s team offense should focus on aggressively putting the ball in Amber Melgoza’s hands in an immediate scoring position.
Bringing UW’s offense and opposing defenders to a stop-and-stare halt while Melgoza iso-drives from the 3-point line is too much of a burden on Melgoza over a long season.
By the later half of last season, opposing defenses were forcing Melgoza to finish against 2-3 help defenders in the lane (which she did).
Elite isolation scorers like Melgoza have “gravity” in that they pull the defense’s attention as they move around on offense. This is the primary way that great offensive players make their teammates better, not by passing up good shots, but pulling defenders so that their teammates face less defensive pressure and can get better looks at make-able shots.
Hopefully, Coach Wynn has studied tape of (the GOAT) Kelsey Plum for ideas to free Melgoza from constantly having to make high level of difficulty shots.
Wynn would also do well to study some NBA motion offense sets, like those favored by the Golden State Warriors, for example, who use multiple variations of stagger screens to free “gravity” scorers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for jump shots or drives to the basket, as well as free their teammates at the same time.
Having a dominant offensive player like Amber Melgoza and moving opposing defenses with a fluid offense of passers, screeners, and cutters are not mutually exclusive. Gravity creates fluidity.
ind a Defensive Scheme that Works with Current Roster
Last season, Coach Wynn demonstrated her extensive defensive knowledge by constantly switching her team’s defense from game-to-game, and even within games.
It’s likely that Wynn’s adaptable defensive approach would have been more effective with more bodies. Still Wynn simply did not play the hand she was dealt.
Defensively, the undermanned Huskies were jack-of-all-trades and master of none, an ineffective approach in against the PAC-12 conference’s top tier programs Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, Stanford and CAL.
This season, the Dawgs are still likely to be too outmanned athletically to (primarily) use full-court pressure or play man-to-man against the elite of the PAC-12
In order to achieve defensive success with her current players, Coach Wynn simply has to be more realistic about the depth and athleticism limitations of the Huskies’ roster when installing her defense.
It is reasonable that Wynn wants to mimic the success of her aggressive defenses from her Long Beach State days. However, the Huskies are simply not at the level of those Long Beach State teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Wynn can still install multiple half-court defenses that don’t rely (as much) on athleticism, for example, by emphasizing aggressive half-court trapping, attacking ball screens, and/or packing the middle of the court to disrupt interior post offenses. Whatever Wynn decides to do, as long as it is based on a consistent system of defensive principles, then the Huskies should improve.
Now that the Huskies have added length with the incoming freshman Darcy Rees (6’4″)and Haley Van Dyke (6’0″), plus returning HuskiesHannah Johnson (6’1″),Khayla Rooks (6’1″), Gigi Garcia(6’2″), and Missy Peterson (5’11”),Wynn has some flexibility to find a way to improve Washington’s interior defense.
mproved Team Conditioning and Athleticism
The PAC-12 is an elite Power 5 women’s basketball conference that requires elite physical conditioning, and high level athleticism.
Last year, the undermanned Huskies faced an unexpectedly grueling season. Many of the Washington players that logged major minutes looked like they hit a wall of exhaustion during the middle of PAC-12 conference play. This season, all should be expected to be in the best shape of their lives.
Washington will not have elite athleticism team-wide, but the Huskies’ overall athleticism improved instantly when frosh T.T. Watkins arrived on campus. Hopefully, Watkins can spark the Huskies with her intensity and energy, particularly on defense.
etter In-Game Coaching Adjustments to Avoid the “One Bad Quarter”
This goes hand-in-hand with #3.
One Bad Quarter
The story of the 2017-18 Washington season may have been “One Bad Quarter.” The Huskies were plagued by one bad quarter in 10 of their 15 Pac-12 losses; a quarter which turned a close game into a big loss.In those bad quarters (which quarter differs in each game), UW was outscored by an average of 16.0 points. However, in the other three quarters of those games, the Huskies outscored their opponents by an average of 3.6 points.
Coach Wynn could have helped her team more by improving her game management.
There were many instances when Coach Wynn was slow on the trigger in calling timeouts– or making substitutions — to either prevent or stop lopsided scoring runs by opponents.
Often, it seemed like Wynn was refusing to call a timeout in order to wait for the quarter to end or for a scheduled television timeout
The four quarters format of women’s basketball requires a coach to focus on winning each quarter.
There is no reason to “save” timeouts or try to hold on for the next TV timeout when your team is struggling.
Hopefully, this season Coach Wynn will use her timeouts and make substitutions in a more proactive manner.
Last season, there were times when Coach Wynn made zero substitutions for an entire quarter, which was unsustainable with a depleted roster and put more of a burden on her players. Wynn must fix this.
ultivate More High Impact Players
Amber Melgoza is the ultimate high impact player for the Huskies. However, Jenna Moser is an equally high impact player from the three-point line and she makes more non-scoring “winning plays” than any other Husky. Melgoza and Moser can’t do it alone.
Hannah Johnson showed the ability to be a high impact player last season. Johnson led the Huskies in rebounds and double-doubles (points and rebounds), posting four. Johnson has shown flashes of a nice shooting touch. If she can be more consistent with her midrange shooting and the occasional 3-point shot, maybe Johnson can return to double-double form for a longer stretch of the season.
Khayla Rooks has all the versatility and talent to be a special player. It will be interesting to see if Coach Wynn can find creative ways to use Rooks, as both a scorer and as a defender. Rooks’ development should be exciting to watch.
Guard Missy Peterson is back after her freshman season at UW was shortened by serious injury. If Peterson shows that she can start the Huskies’ half-court offense, she could allow both Melgoza and Moser to start off-ball and use their energy to work for open shots.
Alexis Griggsby and Mai-Loni Henson are two athletic, versatile players (offensively and defensively) that should be high impact players. It may be that their versatility worked against them last season because they seemed to lack defined roles on the team. If Coach Wynn can maximize the effectiveness of these two talented players, it would be a huge boost to the team depth-wise.
Frosh recruits T.T Watkins (defense, athleticism), Haley Van Dyke (scoring prowess) and Darcy Rees (post presence) all bring attributes that the Huskies need. If all three can contribute significant minutes this season, the Huskies should be much more competitive, especially in PAC-12 conference play.
efine Each Player’s Role by the Start of the PAC-12 Regular Season
Last year, the Huskies having only seven (7) scholarship players available severely affected Wynn’s options. Frankly, a short bench approach has a very slim chance of success in an elite Power 5 basketball conference, like the PAC-12.
This season, Wynn may have the opposite problem of a deep bench with many potential contributors.
Wynn should use the non-conference schedule to experiment with lineups, so that there is a solid understanding of team identity and players’ roles by the time PAC-12 conference play starts.
By the time the PAC-12 regular season begins, Coach Wynn will need to assign and enforce player roles, offensively and defensively. Here’s to a successful Year 2 of the Wynn era. Go Dawgs!