The WSU women’s basketball team has a tough schedule ahead with the opening of Pac-12 play, but the team can offer a strong showing to have another shot at the Pac-12 tournament.
During the course of the season, the Cougars will face No. 4 Stanford twice, No. 7 California twice, No. 16 UCLA twice and No. 20 Colorado once. Normally this would be cause for concern, but due to this year’s nonconference schedule — three games against ranked teams or teams that have received votes in the AP poll — they will be prepared to face tough teams.
These matchups are worth considering because WSU will face nearly every ranked oppenent — with the exception of Colorado — once at Beasley Coliseum. This means fans will have the chance to support the Cougars and potentially sway the game in their favor.
WSU already defeated No. 20 Ohio State at Beasley on Dec. 15, so there is precedent for the existence of an advantage at home. Fans just need to show up because, as Head Coach June Daugherty said, the team plays with a lot of energy that makes the games fun to watch.
Unfortunately, the Cougars also play a road game against each of the aforementioned teams, and away games have plagued the team so far this season. Combining the away and neutral game records, the Cougars have a 1-6 record.
Fans will likely see an improvement from those numbers, however, as the team will not have to travel farther than Tempe, Ariz., during the course of the remaining season.
Long trips can cause fatigue, and that had to contribute to some of the Cougars’ woes when they traveled to Minneapolis, Louisville and Syracuse. Shorter trips might spell more success for a team that has held on to games only to finish in a disappointing fashion.
The rest of the Pac-12 schedule is manageable. The Cougars showed their ability to defeat the other mediocre teams in last year’s Pac-12 tournament, and that will hopefully translate to more wins this season. Don't be surprised if the team makes another strong run for the tournament, especially since they’ve moved it close to the Cougars’ home this year: Seattle’s KeyArena.