Daugherty: pressing team & more top recruits

JUNE DAUGHERTY HAS filled the fourth and final slot in her 2009 recruiting class that will be unveiled next month. Per NCAA rules, she can't name names until letters of intent are signed, but assistant head coach Mike Daugherty told an audience of alums Saturday that the four incoming new Cougs are so talented that it meant having to tell one top-tier national prospect the cupboard was full.

"We had to turn down a top 100 kid because we didn't have room," Mike Daugherty said at the annual Night with Cougar Basketball dinner on the Seattle waterfront.

That's music to the years of the faithful, who haven't seen a winning season in women's basketball since 1996.

Published reports have identified three members of the new class – 6-5 Carly Noyes of Moses Lake, 5-8 national hot 100 guard Ki-Shawna Moore of San Francisco and 5-10 wing Ireti Amojo of Germany.

"June and her staff are closing in on another solid class," says Chris Hansen of ESPN HoopGurlz.com, who knows of the three verbals but not the fourth.


"The headliner is Ki-Shawna – Ki-Ki -- Moore, the No. 84-ranked prospect in the nation … She is physical and strong with the ball. She can create off the dribble and is a fantastic defender who should help WSU extend the pressure the length of the floor."

Hansen calls Noyes "one of the best players in the state of Washington" and notes that "you can't teach size and she has it. She's got a solid build and possessed a fundamental skill set offensively which starts with her footwork. She emerged as a leader this summer with her club team as well. In a conference that is growing, keeping a player of her size and ability in state is a must."

As for Amojo, who played as an exchange student on Auburn-Riverside's 2007 state 3A championship team, Hansen said, "she is going to surprise people as she wasn't able to play her last two seasons in the U.S. at Auburn Riverside. She's a versatile player with a lot of upside due to her athleticism."

How Daugherty's 2009 recruiting class will rate nationally remains to be seen, says Hansen, particularly since it isn't known who the Cougs filled their fourth and final slot with.

"With so many top players still unsigned in the class it just isn't possible to project who will end up with a top 25 signing class outside of a select few."

June Daugherty, however, is indeed ready to make a projection. At Saturday's dinner she said her 2009 class shapes up as top 20 material.

All this high-talent talk comes on the heels of Daugherty's first recruiting class -- a seven-member crop that was rated second-best in the Pac-10 and 16th-best in the nation. Those seven are now true freshmen for the Cougs and all could be in line for playing time this season.

Daugherty said the Super Seven are even better than she thought they would be, giving the Cougars unprecedented speed and athleticism. That infusion of talent will allow the Cougars to press and push with abandon this season.

A full-court press defense and a hard-running offense requires a deep bench and tremendous work ethic. With all the energy they're going to be expending, Mike Daugherty said players will be on the floor for stints of no more than three to five consecutive minutes before coming out for breathers.


Senior captain Kate Appleton also was on hand for the dinner Saturday and confirmed the rigorous game plan. "I can't tell you how many times we've run Martin Stadium. And I mean run the entire stadium – not up one side and down the other, but up every single (row of stairs)."

Asked for her thoughts on the seven freshmen on the team, Appleton was succinct: "Absolutely amazing."

THE NEW TALENT in Pullman this season extends beyond the freshmen. The Cougars also have added 6-0 post player Katie Madison, a transfer from Idaho who ranked sixth in the Western Athletic Conference in scoring (14.1 points per game) and seventh in rebounding (7 per game) last season. As a freshman in 2006-07 she led the WAC in scoring and was fourth in rebounding.

Under NCAA transfer rules, the Vancouver, Wash., product can't play in games this season, but figures to be a key figure in crimson next year when Daugherty must find replacements for senior posts Heather Molzen and Ebonee Coates. Madison recently came off knee surgery so hasn't practiced yet. In high school, she led Prarie to a 79-9 record in three seasons, scoring 1,001 career points.

• June Daugherty said in her 25 years of Division I coaching she's never had a better team leader than Appleton, a kinesiology major from Apple Valley, Calif.

• All seven Cougar freshmen enrolled at WSU in the summer, so were able to bond with and workout with the team's veterans. All 17 players on the roster were in Pullman throughout the summer to work out and rack up academic credits.

• The Cougs will hold exhibition games in Pullman on Nov. 2 and 9. The season-opener at Texas Tech is Nov. 16.

• Mike Daugherty, who spearheads scheduling, said he's in talks with national powerhouse UConn to hold a home-and-home series starting next season.

CLICK HERE to view the Cougars' complete 2008-09 roster.

A new booster organization -- The Cougar Pawz Club -- is being launched at WSU to support the women's basketball team. There are three levels of membership, ranging from $100 to $500. Some of the perks include opportunities to visit with players, chalk talks with June and her staff, an official t-shirt and more. The money will help support the team in a variety of ways, including the aim of taking the team on summer foreign tours, which is a huge key in recruiting. To join, call 509-335-0276.

IF YOU MISSED last week's CF.C photo essay on the start of official practices, you'll find them here ....

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