Daugherty gives WSU instant recruiting boost

JIM STERK TWO weeks ago jokingly asked a veteran coach known for rebuilding things the right way if the Cougar women's basketball job would be of interest. Dick Bennett just said he was going golfing. Sterk, however, did turn to someone with a similar reputation for winning with class. On Friday, June Daugherty will be introduced as WSU's new head coach for women's hoops.

Daugherty, known to be energetic and upbeat, will give the Cougars something they never had under previous head coach Sherri Murrell -- instant entre into the homes of the state of Washington's best prep players.

The state has become a hotbed of women's basketball talent over the years. So much so, that 29 prep seniors this year are heading to college on scholarships. Tellingly, not one of them is headed to WSU. In fact, the state's best prep player this year -- Angie Bjorkland of Spokane -- didn't even sniff at WSU, despite deep crimson roots in her family. She's headed to Tennessee.

Daugherty's last class of recruits at UW is widely considered one of the finest in the nation.

In 11 seasons as head coach at cross-state rival Washington, Daugherty, 50, took six teams to the NCAA tournament and three more to the NIT. Every one of those clubs had a cornerstone of talent from the state of Washington.

Her record at UW was 191-139 (and 113-85 in the Pac-10). She was undefeated against the Cougars, going 22-0. In 2003, she was a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award.

She was fired a month ago after the Huskies lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Iowa State. UW athletic director Todd Turner said Daugherty wasn't winning enough and that attendance at women's games wasn't great enough. Under Daugherty, the Huskies led the Pac-10 in home attendance from 2002-04. The 2002-03 team averaged 4,981 fans per game -- a school record and 18th best in the nation.

In five years at the Cougar helm, Murrell, was 27-114 (8-82 in the Pac-10). The Cougas haven't had a winning season the days of Harold Rhodes in 1996.

Craig Smith of the Seattle Times, citing unnamed sources, reported Thursday that Sterk would announce Daugherty as the new head coach on Friday.

Prior to her arrival at Washington in 1996, Daugherty was the head coach at Boise State for seven years, compiling a 123-74 overall record and a 73-31 record in the Big Sky Conference. Before that she was an assisant at Stanford to legendary coach Tara Vanderveer.

As a player, Daugherty was an All-American at Ohio State in the late 1970s, and still ranks among OSU's career leaders for points, rebounds and blocked shots.

The Times reported that Daugherty's husband Mike, a longtime assistant coach with her at UW, will join her Cougar staff.

NOTABLE NOTE:

Daugherty will inherit a team that loses just three players -- seniors Kate Benz and Adrinee Ferguson, and sophomore guard Amanda DuRocher of Spanaway who announced yesterday that she is transferring to Master's College, an NAIA school in Southern California. DuRocher knocked down 50 treys in her freshman season at WSU and earned All-Pacific-10 Freshman Honorable Mention honors. In 2006, she started 11 games and averaged 5.8 ppg.

If any of Daugherty's incoming recruits at Washington wanted to follow her to WSU, they would need to receive an official release from UW and then would be eligible this season. Once a player enrolls at a school, they must sit out a year before becoming eligibile to play at another school.

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