**Welcome Coach, No Time for a Honeymoon, Time To Recruit!**
At her introductory press conference on Wednesday, April 8th, Tina Langley demonstrated a confidence and eagernesss to get started on building up her UW WBB program.
Washington AD Jen Cohen’s hiring of Tina Langley was an educated gamble on a veteran coach that is well-known and well-regarded in basketball circles.
However, despite her 18+ seasons on the sidelines, the fact that Langley does not have any PAC-12 coaching experience whatsoever is a bit concerning.
Ideally, a PAC-12 hire is familiar with the conference, ie., it’s rivalries, politics, and the wide-ranging cultures within the PAC-12 footprint.
The culture of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah and Colorado are nothing like Texas or the Southern culture that Langley is most familiar with.
A coach’s inability to connect with their players can be fatal to a basketball team’s performance goals.
Relating to your players is not an automatic given, especially when you inherit your players from another coach.
**Recruit the Current UW WBB Roster**
Langley will need to get to know her players quickly, but genuinely, if for no other reason than to stop the wave of departures via the NCAA Transfer Portal.
During the three weeks it took to hire Coach Langley, UW WBB lost three of their most productive players.
Losing Quay Miller, Haley Van Dyke, and Tameiya Sadler individually would be a major blow by itself, but all three together is an “all hands on deck” program emergency.
With the exception of Darcy Rees, the remaining UW WBB roster players are used to either limited playing time or limited roles, i.e., three-point specialists, defensive specialists, instant offense off the bench, emergency point guard, etc.
The mental adjustment for each individual player is already huge, particularly in adjusting to new offensive and defensive schemes, however, new and dramatically expanded roles and responsibilities will be the new normal for most of the returning players.
The stress of losing the coach that recruited you is just the tip of the iceberg.
Langley will need to start building player relationships quickly, and finding her player-leaders, if she wants to staunch the flow of departees.
In many ways holding on to current Huskies players is a form of recruiting.
But it’s Langley’s traditional recruiting skills that will be tested the most during this transition.
**Keep The 2021 UW WBB Recruits, All Of Them**
The 2021 UW WBB recruiting class is special with four players ranked in ESPN’s Top 100 players of 2021; as well as one player ranked in the Top 25 of 2021 international players.
To be blunt, Washington desperately needs the 2021 recruits to arrive (and remain) on campus, no exceptions.
The Huskies have been offensively challenged the last four years.
All five of the 2021 recruits are high level scorers and each one is a legitimate three-point threat.
The 2021 recruits represent a talent influx that can’t be overstated.
Fortunately, Jess Finney was an early enrollee at UW and was already a part of the program when Jody Wynn was dismissed.
That leaves ony two remaining 2021 recruits, AJ Marotte and Olivia Pollerd; however, they are two of the most explosive offensive players of the class whose talents complement the other 2021 recruits very well.
Langley needs to get all five 2021 recruits on campus, particularly with the (potential) loss of four transfers.
**Recruiting Transfers to UW WBB**
Washington was scheduled to have a full roster of 15 scholarship players next season.
With the four potential transfers that would still leave 11 scholarship players, if Langley is able to keep the 2021 recruiting class intact.
Now, with some Huskies WBB scholarships newly open, Washington will likely look to fill at least one or two roster spots with a transfer that can come in and contribute next season.
**Finding A Point Guard Transfer For UW WBB**
So it’s not written in stone that the Huskies absolutely need another point guard, but a solid veteran point guard would definitely get minutes and help the maturity process of the younger guards on the roster.
Former Oregon guards Jaz Shelley and Taylor Chavez entered the NCAA Transfer Portal and either one would be a serviceable PAC-12 point guard for Langley.
But, for now, there are multiple point guards in the Transfer Portal. Langley just needs to do her due diligence and find one that can help her program run smoothly on the court in her first season at UW.
Finding the right transfer player that fits is a recruiting skill that Langley must demonstrate quickly, while there are plenty of guards in the NCAAA Transfer Portal.
**Finding A Big Transfer For UW WBB**
Another concern that must be addressed is Washington’s lack of bigs, assuming Quay Miller doesn’t return to the UW fold (as it stands now, she most likely will not).
For UW a transfer big would preferably be a younger player with 2 – 3 years of eligibility remaining.
Also, an athletic big, 6’3″ or taller (i.e., another Quay Miller) is preferable because an undersized or immobile big will definitely not thrive and prosper in the PAC-12.
For the past four seasons, Tina Langley’s Rice squad had a dominant big (in Conference USA) in the 6’9″ Nancy Mulkey.
Mulkey was actually a Top-10 Candidate for the Lisa Leslie Award given to the nation’s top center.
Nancy Mulkey was in the NCAA Top-10 this season for field goal percentage (61.0% ).
Mulkey was also ranked in the NCAA Top-10 this season for blocked shots, coming in 3rd for total blocks (95).
For comparison, Stanford’s Cameron Brink finished with 88 total blocks in the 2020-2021 season.
Mulkey’s success is a testament to the player development of Coach Langley and her staff.
However, cold hard fact, Mulkey may not have thrived in the PAC-12 because her lack of mobility and athletic ability would have been exposed on a nightly basis.
If you think Nancy Mulkey was a better shot blocker than Cameron Brink, with all due respect, you need your head examined.
Brink was playing a much higher level of competition, making the level of difficulty of her blocks much higher than Mulkey’s.
But I digress.
Simply put, it is imperative that Langley find a mobile big to compensate for losing Quay Miller — not just any big will do.
**Free Darcy Rees**
Another reason the Dawgs should prefer a young big, Darcy Rees is a high level center.
Rees — a 6’4″ big that can run the floor, shoot the three and is effective in the post — is a unicorn. Period.
Rees’ talents were severely underutilized under in Wynn’s system.
Hopefully, after Mulkey, Tina Langley is not so overly conditioned to less versatile bigs that she assumes Darcy Rees is that type of center.
Mulkey and Rees are absolutely nothing alike in playing style.
In Rice’s offense, Mulkey spent a lot of time at the pinch post/high elbow, setting screens and occasionally rolling to the hoop.
This would be a disastrous misuse of the talents of Darcy Rees (or Quay Miller, for that matter).
[This segues into the need for Langley to assemble an impressive staff that is strong on skill development of all-around players at every position. In the PAC-12, you can’t punt on the skills of your center — or any other position on the floor — if you want to win.]
Anyway, back to the subject at hand — recruiting big transfers.
A Rees Sister Act?
University of Utah sophomore big Kelsey Rees, Darcy’s 6’5″ sister, is not in the NCAAA Transfer Portal.
But if she was (hint hint) that would be a great pickup for the Dawgs that would blend seamlessly talent and chemistry-wise with the current Huskies roster.
Kelsey Rees is a mobile big that runs the floor, shoots the three, is a good passer and can score inside (although not quite as polished inside yet as Darcy).
Kelsey has also played on Australian national teams with UW 2021 commit Olivia Pollerd.
**Go Old, If You Can Double Up**
One exception to the “young big” rule is Utah senior big/forward, 6’3″ Ola Makurat.
Makurat is instant offense, a shooter from outside that could pair easily with Darcy to really spread the floor on offense.
Another reason to make her the exception? Because Makarut’s younger sister Anna, a 6’2″ combo guard out of UConn, is also in the NCAA Transfer Portal.
Anna Makurat made 6 starts for UConn last season, and showed a strong all-around game (i.e., 38 total assists and 3.3. rebounds per game), paired with a good shooter’s touch from three-point range (i.e, 41.0% from three as a freshman, 31.7 3FG% as a sophomore).