WSU Basketball teams find similarities in their differences


WSU junior guard Caila Hailey attempts a layup in a game against Utah on Feb. 23 at Beasley Coliseum.

March Madness commences in just two weeks, and fans of both WSU basketball teams will again be left to contemplate the future of basketball in Pullman.

The two programs sit in divergent situations, and as expected, more question marks surround the men’s team.

Four of the team’s five starters are graduating and a largely unknown recruiting class will be forced to fill the void next season.

With new faces set to fill starting roles in the backcourt and frontcourt, the men’s basketball program is going to have a much different feel next year with cornerstones like forward Josh Hawkinson and Ike Iroegbu gone. It’s just a matter of how significant the change will be.OPINION

On the other hand, the women’s team will lose just one senior, but will also likely see a shakeup in the starting lineup next season. The team’s three leading scorers, all opening night starters, will be back and core players pushed into larger roles will return to the second unit.

Instead of moping through games with their heads hanging low, 10th-year Head Coach June Daugherty guided the program to its highest seed in the Pac-12 Tournament since 2002, all while playing in the nation’s toughest conference.

Nine teams in the conference have winning records and four of them are ranked in the AP top-25 poll. The Pac-12 is not exactly a walk in the park, with Oregon State, Washington, Stanford and UCLA all ranking inside the top-15.

The men’s side is no different. Arizona (No. 7), Oregon (No. 6) and UCLA (No. 3) have polarized the conference, combining for a 78-11 overall record.

Injured or healthy, young or old, the Pac-12 is a dog-eat-dog conference. Winning a title is earned by overcoming hardships and handicaps.

For the WSU women’s basketball team, the injury bug was only one major hurdle. Eight different countries are represented on the team’s roster, and while diversity is a great asset, it also represents the challenge of merging eight varying perspectives and styles of basketball into one cohesive team.

In teaching players basketball fundamentals, communication became critical to the women’s team. It is a virtue often said to be the key to success on the court, and WSU understands this better than any other team in the country. The daunting exercise will turn into a supreme achievement for the group heading into next season.

Players found similarity in their differences, gelling on the court with the common goal to win. Higher expectations that were not quite met helped the group form a bond over global basketball. As Daugherty said, the team will come back tougher next season because of the progress they made being forced to adapt to circumstance.

Both the WSU men’s and women’s basketball teams foil one another heading into next season, but their one similarity is that promise exists. With younger players on each team accelerating their learning, the only way to go is up.

Judging a team based on its statistics is natural. However, issues arise when it’s the only metric accounted for. Cultural components are not included in a wholesome evaluation.

No quantitative measurement for resiliency exists. There is no record that indicates how much heart you have. It’s not something that can be tracked or taught, but it comes naturally to the WSU men’s and women’s basketball teams.