Daugherty: 'Ridiculous' scoring, but D lags

JUNE DAUGHERTY'S Cougar women basketballers are so much farther ahead on offense than the head coach expected that she termed "ridiculous" the factual evidence presented this week by the NCAA's statistical database. Ol' Wazzu, averaging 76.3 points per game, ranks No. 25 nationally in scoring.

Granted, the buzz saw portion of the season doesn't begin for another three weeks, but for perspective on how remarkable that 76.3 number truly is, consider that the Cougs averaged just 51.8 points per game last season.

Even more head-turning is this little nugget: In the three seasons prior to this one, the Cougars scored 76 or more points in a game only four times.

Despite the lofty output, Daugherty is by no means satisfied with the play on offense. Greater consistency is needed, she said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters, pointing to the whopping 15 turnover the CouGals committed in the first half of their come-from-behind win over Milwaukee last week.

Still, the point production is gratifying and testament to the infusion of athleticism the Cougars are seeing from their touted class of freshmen. April Cook is the Cougs' leading scorer, averaging 15.7 per outing. Jazmine Perkins is second in scoring, at 15.1 points ppg, and leads the team in assists and steals. She's also second in rebounding (5.1 per game). Rosie Tarnowski is pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game and scoring 10.9 ppg. She's also second on the team in assists and steals.

All three of the youngsters are averaging more than 26 minutes of playing time per game (a level of activity only bested by senior Katie Appleton at 31.7 minutes per game). In addition, fellow freshman Danielle LeNoir is averaging 17 minutes of PT per game, mostly at point guard.

DEFENSE IS ANOTHER matter, Daugherty said in the conference call Wednesday. Stopping the other team's offense is her "biggest area of concern" right now, the second-year WSU head coach said. Her aim is to hold opponents to 40-something a game.

Right now, WSU is surrendering 68.7 points per contest -- that's just a hair under the 69.0 average last season.

The Cougars are 5-2 after the 73-52 win over visiting Milwaukee – a team that Daugherty says is the best the Cougs have faced this year and one that served as excellent preparation for the coming rigors of Pac-10 play.

Idaho, at Moscow, is next up for the Cougs, with a 2 pm tipoff this Sunday. From there, the CouGals head to the islands for two games against Hawaii on Dec. 19 and 22. They'll host Kansas State on Dec. 28 before heading to Seattle for the Pac-10 opener against Washington on Jan. 3.

ASKED TO TALK ABOUT the Cougar freshmen who are contributing so much this season, Daugherty was effusive.

She says Cook is a natural-born scorer who plays with confidence and "finds a way to get it done (offensively)." She also plays tough defense.

Perkins's quickness makes her a force in the lanes and seams, and her outside shot is improving, Daugherty said. She calls Perkins the Cougars' "defensive stopper."

Tarnnowski, who hails all the way from Philadelphia, "brings an incredible amount of energy" to the court, Daugherty said, adding, "There's nobody that outworks her." Daugherty said Tarnowski can score inside and out and her outstanding rebounding, especially on the defensive end, is helping get the Cougs into their running game.

The coach wasn't about to let all this talk of youth go by without mention of the guidance the youngsters are receiving from the team's four seniors: Appleton, leading rebounder Heather Molzen, Ebonee Coates and Brynn Bemis. "They're phenomenal leaders …. I can't praise them enough," said Daugherty, noting that it's no easy task to smoothly blend eight rookies into a team.

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