Five takeaways from the UW Huskies Women’s basketball program’s dominating win over Weber State 94 – 41, as Washington bounced back from a last second loss to Tulane.
Huskies Identity is Aggressive Defense Leading to Aggressive (More Balanced) Offense
The Huskies set the tone of the game early with intense defense in the first quarter, as the Huskies turned up the heat on Webster State and made a statement on what type of team they want to be.
Jody Wynn stuck with her 10-player rotation (more on that later) and used full-court pressure throughout the game to keep Weber State off-balance.
As a result of their defensive pressure, the Huskies forced 12 turnovers in the first quarter but didn’t convert many turnovers into points.
By the end of the game, the Huskies forced 38 total turnovers, scoring 37 points off of those turnovers.
It will be crucial to Washington’s success this year that the Huskies score points off of turnovers, either by getting a good shot in transition or getting fouled, to help balance their offensive output and not be overly reliant on Missy Peterson and Amber Melgoza to generate points.
UW’s offensive aggressiveness was evident as the Huskies took 17 shots in the quarter, but the team shot only 35.3% overall (6-17) and 28.6% (2-7) from three-point distance.
There were six scoreless Huskies in the first quarter, they were as follows.
Amber Melgoza: 0 points (0-2), 1 rebound and 1 turnover in 5 minutes.
Haley Van Dyke: 0 points (0 shot attempts), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 steals and 1 turnover in 6 minutes.
Rita Pleskevich: 0 points (0 shot attempts), 1 assist and 1 turnover in 4 minutes.
Missy Peterson: 0 points (0-2), 1 assist, 1 steal, in 7 minutes.
Quay Miller: 0 points (0-3), 1 rebound in 4 minutes.
Ali Bamberger: 0 points (0-1), 1 rebound, 1 assist in 3 minute
At the end of the first quarter, Washington led Weber State 14-6 — ironically, matching their meager first quarter offensive output in the Tulane loss, but thanks to their defense the optics were much better against Weber State.
Despite the need for improvement on offense, the Huskies recorded 20 assists against Weber State.
The bright spot of the UW offense is the ability of several Huskies to act as playmakers and find their open teammates for good shots.
*UPDATED* Through games played November 21, 2019, the Huskies ranked 14th nationally in Assists per Game with 20.3 (per NCAA.com); and ranked 16th nationally in Assisted Shot Rate 70.1% (per HerHoopStats).
Another good sign, the Huskies finished with four players scoring in double figures: Haley Van Dyke and Darcy Rees with 12 points each; T.T. Watkins with 11 points, including a deep corner three-pointer; and Mai-Loni Henson with 10 points;
The Huskies Need Amber Melgoza to Keep Taking Her Shots
Amber Melgoza started slowly, shooting 0 for 2 in the first quarter for 0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assist and and 1 turnover in 5 minutes.
It was somewhat unsettling to see Melgoza have little to no impact in the first quarter after a subpar performance in the Tulane loss.
However, In the second quarter, Amber Melgoza began showing some life offensively.
Melgoza was the leading scorer in the second quarter with 6 points (3 of 5 shooting), as well as 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist in 8 minutes — plus 2 turnovers.
Yet, the career 33.6% three-point shooter did not attempt a single three-point shot.
Amber finished the game with 12 points tied with teammates Darcy Rees and Haley Van Dyke as Huskies leading scorer of the game.
Amber Melgoza finished the game shooting 40% (6 of 15), another subpar shooting performance.
But the Huskies offense works better when Melgoza is aggressive and not passing up shots she normally would take.
Last season, Melgoza averaged 17.1 shot attempts per game, so 15 attempts versus Weber State was a rational number and they were quality shots that she normally makes.
Conversely, In the Huskies loss to Tulane, Melgoza had 14 shooting attempts but looked tentative and passed up shots she would normally take. This seemed to cause confusion for some Huskies teammates who also didn’t assert themselves offensively against Tulane.
No single Husky player is going to replace Amber Melgoza’s usual offensive production, but multiple (confident) teammates can pick up the slack together until Amber is back to her usual offensive efficiency.
Jody Wynn Expects Effort and Accountability Regardless of Score
38 seconds into the third quarter, Head Coach Jody Wynn gave her team a lesson in accountability
Jody Wynn called timeout to hold her players accountable for a defensive lapse that allowed Weber State’s #11 Liz Graves to dribble the length of the floor for a layup against the Huskies full-court press defense.
Coach Wynn’s wholesale substitution out of Washington starters was the proper response to the Huskies players passing the responsibility to stop the ball to their teammates, rather than making the play themselves and stepping in front of the driving Graves.
By pulling all five players, Wynn made a clear statement to her team that they would be held accountable not just for their individual defensive effort but also the entire team’s defensive effort, regardless of score.
This could be a bellwether moment for a team that will need exceptional defense to compete in the rough-and-tumble PAC-12.
Rita Pleskevich, Amber Melgoza, Darcy Rees, Haley Van Dyke and Mai-Loni Henson were benched for a few minutes and, when reinserted, showed they got the message by playing with obvious intensity on defense forcing 5 turnovers in the third quarter.
The Huskies also turned up the heat offensively with 33 total points in the third quarter.
Darcy Rees really stepped up and accepted the challenge from Wynn . Rees was the leading scorer (tied) of the 3rd quarter with 8 points and was perfect from the field (3-3 FGs overall, 2-2 3PTs), plus 1 block and 1 steal in 5 minutes, including a nice layup on the fastbreak showing her improved mobility.
Ali Bamberger was also the leading scorer (tied) with 8 points and was also perfect from the field (2-2 FGs overall, 2-2 3PTs) plus 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 5 minutes.
Mai-Loni Henson Comes Ready to Play, Likes Contact, and Getting Fouled
Senior Mai-Loni Henson was clearly the Huskies top performer of the 1st half.
Henson led the Huskies in first quarter scoring with five points plus 2 rebounds.
Mai-Loni Henson was 3 of 4 from the free throw line in the second quarter but more importantly she helped the Huskies get off to a good start.
Henson was aggressively seeking contact on drives to the basket and being physical inside the paint.
Henson was UW’s leading scorer in the first half with 8 points (2-3 FG, 1-1 3PT) plus2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 0 turnovers in 16 minutes.
Mai-Loni finished the game with 10 points (3-4 FGs, 1-1 3PTs) plus 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in 23 minutes.
Another all-around excellent performance by Henson, who looks likes she’s already in mid-season form
The 10-Woman Rotation is Here to Stay, For Good Reasons
Through the first three games, Jody Wynn’s actions have made it clear that she views roster depth as an asset and will regularly rotate 10 players during a game.
Depth will be one of the keys to success for the Washington Huskies Women’s basketball program. here’s why:
First and foremost, Coach Wynn expects her players to bring full throttle competitive energy on defense. the UW Huskies defense must be disruptive for Washington to taste success in the nation’s toughest women’s basketball conference, the PAC-12.
A 10-woman bench guards against players trying to conserve energy on the defensive end. If you’re too tired to defend at a high level, you’re coming out.
Second, the 10-woman rotation gives Coach Wynn more strategic options because of lineup flexibility.
Coach Wynn and her staff have stocked the roster with versatile players (with more on the way in 2020), that can all play at least 2 positions. This versatility helps Wynn to mix and match lineups based on opponent and game situations, not many coaches have this luxury.
Third, the 10-woman rotation promotes player efficiency.
Based on admittedly a small sample size of three games, the most common intervals of playing time per quarter are 2 -3 minutes. 4-6 minutes and 7-10 minutes.
The 4-6 minute intervals are the most prolific suggesting that player’s performance was satisfactory by the UW coaching staff’s standards.
Extrapolating further, the 2-3 minute intervals result from an unsatisfactory player performance (or lineup). Since Wynn can afford to take players with little to no positive production out of the game early or change ineffective lineups with multiple bench players to try instead.
On the other hand, Coach Wynn can extend the time of players that are producing at a high level, resulting in the 7-10 minutes playing interval.
Regardless, no Huskies have to play regardless of outcome because of this 10-player depth and that will make the Huskies a tougher opponent this season.
Against Weber State, roughly half of Washington’s 91 points came from the bench– 46 bench points total.
Considering that the Huskies also finished with four players in double figures, Coach Wynn is doing a masterful job of rotating players in a way that promotes offensive efficiency of individual players, as well as the team.