#5 Colorado vs. #12 Washington

At most post-season tournaments, there is a team that didn’t have their shit together until late, and is designated “the team no one wants to play”.

In the 2022 Pac-12 women’s basketball championship tournament, that team is Colorado, winner of six out of seven — factor out the 3-point double overtime squeaker vs. Oregon, and the Buffaloes won those other five by an average of 16 points. Colorado held those opponents to 50.4 points per game, 6.6 fewer than their conference-leading 57.

Colorado senior forward Mya Hollingshed leads the Buffaloes in expected ways — minutes, points, rebounds, blocks — and unexpected — 3-point shooting percentage. Junior guard Jaylyn Sherrod leads in the guard-appropriate assists, steals, and free throws attempted, but she makes them at 59% rate. Had she made free throws at 75%, the Buffaloes would’ve scored an additional 20 points.

The player I really like on that team is freshman guard Kyndall Wetta, who plays like a coach’s kid. She’ll be outstanding in good-things-to-turnover rate.

It’s traditional for coaches and writers to issue pleasant platitudes about last-place teams, but in Washington’s case, I’m serious about their reaching a plateau signifying ‘much improved’ next year. For one, they won their games late in the season, while the usual platitude about losing teams being “in a lot of games at the end” is true of the Huskies. For another thing, everyone’s coming back (I’m speculating that senior shotblocker Nancy Mulkey will stick as long as she can with Coach Langley, after they both moved to Washington from Rice University.

Mulkey is a player to watch. Most shotblockers appear to come out of nowhere (that is, the weak side — the most memorable thing I ever heard about this effect was about Phoenix forward Stoudemire; radio talker Tom Tolbert said: “Stoudemire was nowhere, then BOOM. It looked like he dropped from the ceiling.”), but Mulkey usually seems to arrive early.