The Daily Evergreen

WSU women’s basketball season should not be defined by failure

JACOB MOORE | Evergreen columnist

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In sports, a team’s win-loss ratio is, at the surface level, the easiest way to define whether or not it failed or succeeded. Here in Pullman, I challenge everyone to not declare the WSU women’s basketball team’s 11-18 overall record as an indefensible failure.

Yes, the team’s chances of winning the Pac-12 Tournament this week are fingernail slim, but the fact that this team earned the seventh seed in the bracket, with its three leading scorers out for season-ending injuries, is an accomplishment in itself.

I think that fans everywhere ought to look behind blatant statistics when defining the successes and failures of a team and consider extending variables such as team morale and culture. I know, however, that will not sway everyone’s opinion.

To those who dub this season a failure, I say again, don’t let the stigma of failure fool you.

Debunking this stigma a bit further: those who fail obtain an advantage over individuals who never experience its taste. They have a broader perspective on how to evaluate their performances and move forward from them.

The Cougars will likely miss out on the postseason for the second straight year, but that does not mean this group cannot have success going forward.

WSU knows what went right and what did not work, but most of the season’s troubles were the result of sheer bad luck. The legacy of this season should not only be clouded with disappointment because of a less-than-stellar record, because there is a lot to be optimistic about.

WSU Head Coach June Daugherty has reiterated there is an existing theme of excitement all season.

“You know, as much as we’ve been nicked up, wounded and injured, our kids have been playing [and] have improved a lot,” Daugherty said in a press conference on Feb. 21. “We’re still in the race for the postseason, and so it’s an exciting time.”

The team’s injuries have opened the door for underclassmen to gain invaluable experience playing in the Pac-12 and give Daugherty depth at all positions going forward, an advantage not many other teams enjoy.

“Players have had a chance to really play a lot of minutes, experience what it’s like to play in the number one conference in America, and it’s great to see their improvement,” Daugherty said.

The team easily could have packed it in when freshman guard Chanelle Molina went down with a torn left ACL on Jan. 13, yet it never quit and wound up winning three more games. The season was indeed a learning experience, and the win-loss record tells far from the whole story.

Injuries are out of an individual’s control, so it’s funny calling a coincidence a failure. If you still call a season ravaged with injuries a failure though, remember that success is almost always derived from failure.

Because of the experiences WSU endured this season, I doubt the team will give up on its goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991. The team will just return with perhaps its strongest roster this fall under Daugherty, who said that the prospect of next season is the other thing that is exciting about this year’s results.

“We want to build upon this,” she said.

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WSU women’s basketball season should not be defined by failure