"We came closer as a team, we had a huge bond and we played very well. It was just a fun experience, and we won all four games," said Galdeira, a standout guard from Kamuela, Hawaii.
Daugherty dubbed the trip nothing less than "phenomenal."
"It allowed us to have ten extra practices and then four games in Europe against some very good competition," Daugherty said in a recent interview with Cougfan.com. "Not only was the competition good but I think we came out of it knowing that our system works against some very, very good players worldwide, globally, and I think we gained an enormous amount of confidence with four wins in six days."
Part of that system that worked so well overseas was more pressing -- pressing that will carry on through this season, and require a deeper rotation, Daugherty said. She noted that it won't be uncommon to see up to ten players getting court time in a game.
"The thing about us this year at Washington State, all six of those freshman from last year are all sophomores, very talented players but they're a year older and way more experienced. I think we can go a lot deeper this year into our bench because of that, I think our three seniors have done a great job of improving as well as the rest of our underclassmen," said Daugherty, who is entering her seventh season at WSU.
Among those six sophomores is Galdeira, who had a spectacular college debut last season. She was the second-leading freshman scorer in the country at 14.8 per game and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors. She led the conference in steals with an average of 2.8 per game.
But that could be just a sampling of what she's capable of doing.
Daugherty said Galdeira's tryout in May for the USA under-19 national team was an eye-opening motivator for the 5-11 guard.
"She's a lot stronger than what she was a year ago," Daugherty added.
A question mark coming into the year was the health of junior guard Tia Presley, who tore her ACL against Oregon last season and missed the final 11 games. Presley recently told Cougfan.com she's back at 100 percent – a claim she backed up by leading all scorers, with 18 points, in WSU's exhibition win last week against The Master's College.
"The coaches have done a really good job with me, making sure that my body feels healthy and that I'm not overdoing anything," Presley said. "If I need to back off then I back off, but I've gotten back in shape and everything feels good right now.
"I think I've improved a lot. Coming off the knee injury I was able to work a lot of stuff like on my body, getting quicker and faster and think that'll really help me improve my game this year."
Daugherty said she is impressed with how Presley recovered physically, but also mentally.
"Presley has done a phenomenal job coming off an ACL injury two months ahead of schedule. It all started with her attitude, she came out as ‘hey this isn't going to stop me, I'm going to come back better than ever' and her work ethic has been unbelievable.," the coach said. "She's quicker than what she used to be and that's a credit to all the extra work that she's done with strength and conditioning.
"A lot of it's a mindset for her, this kid is a tremendous competitor who really knew it was up to her how well she was going to come off this and how quickly. I'm just proud of her being back out here and she's playing with a lot of confidence."
CONFIDENCE OF THE TEAM VARIETY also is a recurring theme with this year's club. The CouGals finished 8th in the conference last season (up from 11th) by going 11-20 overall and 6-12 in conference play, and believe they're ready for the next big step.
"I think our team, talent-wise, we are top of the pack. If we can all just get on the same page and use our talents in a positive way then I think we'll match up really well against everyone in the league," said Presley.
In addition to Presley and Galdiera, one of the key pieces of the puzzle for the Cougars this season will be 6-1 senior guard-forward Sage Romberg, who comes into the campaign with 67 career starts on her resume. Last year she was third on the team in scoring (6.1 per game) and blocked shots (20), and second in rebounding (4.4 per game). She also tallied 31 assists and 20 steals.
"We have an opportunity to be right there in the top four in this conference. I think if we can stay healthy and continue to improve each day as a team then we can beat anybody any night," Daugherty said.
A top four finish would get the Cougs to the post-season for the first time since Harold Rhodes led the charge to the NCAA Tourney in 1991. Last season the Pac-12 sent five teams to the post-season: Stanford, Cal and UCLA to March Madness; Utah and Washington to the WNIT.
"Last year we had great highs (such as a comeback road victory over Gonzaga) but we didn't maintain that level," said Daugherty. "So to get us to play at the highest level and maintain it, if we do that, it could be an unbelievable year, an unbelievably successful year, a year that every fan in the Northwest is going to want to be a part of."
She said fan support at Beasley is critical.
"Our ZZUCRU, the people in the community, Spokane, Lewiston, the people in Moscow that come out, they help us get super energized. We want to play for our fans and we want to play hard and they definitely give us that sixth man advantage," she said.
THE COUGARS FEATURE THREE SENIORS (left to right): SAGE ROMBURG, HANA POTTER AND BRANDI THOMAS