Ex-Vandal charges up Cougs' low-post presence

KATIE MADISON is in the house and she's making noise. Coming off a knee injury and a year on the sidelines after transferring in from Idaho, the Washington State junior forward has showed no signs of rust in the Cougar women's basketball team's first three outings of the season.

In exhibition wins over Lewis-Clark State and Eastern Oregon, Madison scored a collective 27 points and pulled down 20 rebounds. And in WSU's season- opening win Sunday against UC-Davis, she started, played 19 minutes, grabbed six rebounds, scored four points and came up with both a steal and assist.

"It's pretty exciting," the 6-foot Madison says of being back in action. "We have a great team and I couldn't ask for a better team and coach staff to be a part of."

Head coach June Daugherty said last week that since Madison arrived on campus she's been a true apprentice of the Cougars' system despite not being in the middle of the action.

"She was out for a long time because of the knee surgery and the transfer rule but she's one of those kids who took advantage of being on the sideline being a student of the game," Daugherty said. "I think it's really helped her with her transition to the Pac-10 level because it's a giant leap from where she was at."

Madison, who was a 1,000-point scorer at Prairie High in Vancouver, Wash., transferred to WSU following two stellar seasons at Idaho. As a sophomore in 2007-08 she was named second-team all-Western Athletic Conference after averaging 14.1 point and 7 rebounds per game. A year earlier she named WAC Newcomer of the Year after leading the conference in scoring (19.1 per game) and finishing fourth in rebounding (8.9).

Now she's an important part of Daugherty's rebuilding plan that is now in its third season. Madison, as a fourth-year junior, brings a veteran presence to a team loaded with youth. And she brings a consistent, Pac-10-caliber presence to a position -- the low post – where the Cougars have lost Ebonee Coatest and Heather Molzen.

"It's going to be a continued point of emphasis for us to have a consistent effort inside," Daugherty said. The Cougars hauled down 56 rebounds against both Eastern Oregon and Lewis-Clark, and 43 in the 64-54 victory over UC-Davis.

Madison isn't the only reason to smile when it comes to the Cougars' low post, however. There's versatile 6-1 sophomore Rosie Tarnowski, a maintstay last season who started 20 games. And there's also 6-5 true freshman Carly Noyes, an All-State performer from Moses Lake. She needs to hit the weights a bit, but she runs like a gazelle and has solid moves down low and a nice jumper out to 15 feet.

Against UC-Davis she played 21 minutes, scoring six points, nabbing four rebounds and blocking a shot. In the Eastern Oregon exhibition, Noyes came in when Madison got in early foul trouble and proceeded to score 12 points, haul down six rebounds and block a shot. "This is a very, very good sign for our squad, especially for the front line, but it was a total team effort," Daugherty said after that game.

Noyes is one of three true freshmen who figure to play significant minutes for the Cougars this season. Point guard KiKi Moore led the Cougs with 17 points and four steals against UC-Davis and and guard/wing Ireti Amojo scored seven points in 19 minutes of PT off the bench.

The CouGals hit the road for four games, starting at Kansas State on Friday, before returning to Friel against Saint Mary's on and Wyoming on Dec. 3 and 5, respectively.

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