Monday, January 25, 2010

Women's Basketball Has a Bright Future

Selling the rural campus of Washington State University could be considered by some a challenging task, but women’s assistant basketball coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Holsinger views Pullman's “unique location” as a boon.

“We have something that is very different here,” Holsinger told Wazzu Sports. “It’s not Los Angeles, it’s not Phoenix and it’s not Seattle... We sell the college town big time.”

Other Pac-10 schools, such as the University of Washington, reside in the heart of major cities, which makes them appealing to many collegiate athletes. But Katie Madison, a junior on the Cougar women's team, sees Washington State's isolation as an advantage.

“[Pullman] is such a strong community, and the focus is on the university and its athletics," she said. "There’s no other distractions like a pro team, and there is so much pride in an area like this. I love it."

According to Holsinger, the coaching staff works "really hard at finding those kinds of kids and families that love [the family environment], and when they come here, they feel at home."

The biggest challenge, he said, is getting a recruit to visit.

In her first season as WSU head coach, June Daugherty assembled the nation's sixteenth best recruiting class, and the second best incoming crew out of the Pac-10, according to Blue Star Basketball.

“Every player from our first recruiting class talked to Tony Bennett and the players [of the men‘s basketball team],” Holsinger said. “We told our recruits that if you want to come here and make this your own, and be the ones who [build a winning program]... then this is it.”

Daugherty coached the University of Washington for 11 seasons, taking the Huskies to six NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2001.

“We have highlighted June’s success as a main factor in recruiting,” Holsinger said.

For Holsinger, Daugherty, and the rest of the Coug coaches, success will be gauged by wins on the court, something the Cougs have been sorely lacking. In Daugherty's first three seasons, the Cougs have won just 24 games.

"Losing is hard," Holsinger admitted. "But we are starting to turn a corner."

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