Forward Jeneva Anderson will see an increased role against Stanford this Thursday after the suspension of two UW starters.
Forward Jeneva Anderson will see an increased role against Stanford this Thursday after the suspension of two UW starters.Photo by Joshua Bessex
In her four years on Montlake, senior Jeneva Anderson has played Stanford six times. She’s lost every game. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t looking forward to every opportunity to face one of the nation’s best teams.
“I enjoy playing Stanford,” said the 6-foot native of Spokane, Wash. “You always want to play the best of the best, and Stanford is the best in the west. We’ve lost every time, so I’d love to change that.”
Reversing the UW’s losing trend against Stanford got a lot harder earlier this week, though. Anderson and fellow senior Kristi Kingma get one last chance to crack the Cardinal code Thursday night, but they’ll have to do it without sophomore Jazmine Davis and redshirt freshmen Talia Walton and Deborah Meeks.
The three players were suspended Tuesday for tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup with the No. 4 Cardinal (26-2, 15-1 Pac-12) after violating team rules.
“It’s disappointing,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “It wasn’t an extremely egregious situation, but I thought it was important to send the right message. … In year two, we’re still trying to establish the culture that I want [and] that I think will lead to even more winning in the future.”
Davis, Walton, and Meeks will all be available for the UW’s regular-season finale Saturday against No. 6 California. But the Huskies (19-8, 11-5), who have their roster trimmed to just seven players for tonight’s game, could sure use them against Stanford.
The Cardinal is tied with Cal for first in the Pac-12 and leads the conference in scoring defense (52.6 points allowed per game) and scoring margin (plus 18.9 points per game). Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike is the conference’s Superwoman, leading the league in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage.
In all likelihood, Anderson will be tasked with trying to be Ogwumike’s kryptonite. McGuff pegged the senior as a possible starter in Walton’s place in the post. If she does get the starting nod, it’ll be the fifth start of her career. Matching up with the best player in the conference will be a tall order, but with her days at the UW numbered, Anderson is ready for whatever the last weekend of her college career has in store.
“Basketball’s not fun if it’s not a challenge,” she said. “You just have to be smart. Don’t act like you know what they’re about to do. The coaches will give us plenty of ammunition against them, and we just have to use it on the court and be focused when the time comes.”
The Huskies have faced a number of shortcomings this season including a short bench, a lack of size, and injuries. But this new challenge is possibly their biggest one yet.
Walton has started every game this season with the exception of the UW’s loss to Colorado on Sunday, while Davis has missed two starts due to a concussion. The duo makes up a potent scoring threat for the Huskies, combining for 47.5 percent of the UW’s total scoring output.
Losing three players also severely shortens the UW’s rotation. The UW battled through a lack of depth early in the season, playing most of its nonconference season with only eight players, but this puts the Huskies in new waters.
But it’s also a new challenge that the Huskies are going to try their best to meet.
“There’s a reason that we condition all fall and all spring to get to this point,” Kingma said. “We’re all ready to play 40 minutes if we need to. Whatever Coach Mcguff calls upon us to do, that’s just the role we have to fill, every single one of us.”
Reach reporter Thuc Nhi Nguyen at email@example.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21
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