Over the weekend, I expressed my speculation that coach June Daugherty and her Washington State women would be ranked after that convincing win over a ranked Colorado team, regardless of the outcome against Utah.
Low and behold, the Utes were able to come into Beasley and take out the hot Cougs 59-57 in the final moments, leaving the Cougars 11-7, 5-1. I still thought with the way they had been playing, the three wins over ranked teams for the first time since ’95 and the fact that they were without their heart and soul Lia Galdeira, who was on the bench with an apparent injury in the loss, they would find a way to sneak in.
Apparently, my thoughts and hopes from last week were exaggerated, maybe even greatly so. First, Colorado has proven to be a pretender, they also got swiped by Washington, whom the Cougs just swept aside two weeks ago. So beating them did practically nothing but prove they have become a beatable club. Then I did not realize the amount of women’s teams that currently are sitting at anywhere from one to four losses at this point in the season. As it turns out, there are at least 25 of them and probably at least several more. If you didn’t catch that, the top 25 has only six teams with a maximum of four losses.
Not only that, but I failed to even think about the fact that the Utes were coming in without a conference win. That, coupled with the fact that pundits and ranking personnel probably don’t even look at who was missing in games by fringe teams on the women’s side, leaves WSU actually quite far from a national ranking. They had gone into the weekend with a vote, but even that’s gone as of this week.
So what will it take to become considered? Looking at the rankings and the schedule, probably four straight W’s. The upcoming opponents are Oregon, OSU, USC and UCLA, which isn’t particularly daunting, except that they are all on the road. Even if they could split 2-2 and then take down a top ranked Stanford or perhaps just play well against the Cardinal then find a way to knock of a top 15 Cal squad, they may earn some national media attention and a spot at No. 24 or 25. At the very least they should start to get a good amount of votes at that point.
There’s a lot of time between now and then, as that’s the large part of a month of basketball. But it’s a little bit of insight on the upcoming three weeks of basketball and what it might take to get consideration to be ranked. While taking a look at that, consider that this stretch of basketball is more important than just trying to get ranked.
It really is more important than the rankings though, this is a stretch for garnering enough attention to start being considered for post-season play. Even stealing one against the Bay Area teams at home is a major thing to ask, so really the Cougs are in a must-split situation on the road this week and next. If they could somehow come up with at least three of those games it would go a long, long way in determining their bubble standings, should it come down to that.
The ladies play in Eugene against the Oregon Ducks on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 pm. The game will be available via this U of O live stream on Pac12.com.