After scoring 12 straight points and hitting a game-winning three point shot in a 67-66 win against Brigham Young University, University of Washington senior Sami Whitcomb tried to shift the spotlight to the effort of her team.
"I felt good, I felt like ‘we can do this’, but it wasn’t like I felt I was doing it all," said Whitcomb, who finished with 25 points on 8 for 13 shooting. "I felt like it was a team thing still and I wasn’t recognizing that I was scoring every time – I just recognized that we were scoring and that we were right there to win the game."
However, Scott M. Johnson of the Kitsap Sun might more closely approximate the developing narrative of the Huskies’ season by writing, "Almost single-handedly, Sami Whitcomb brought some excitement to the University of Washington women’s basketball program." Or perhaps it’s even better articulated by a tweet from @UWashingtonWBB:
Sami, Sami, Sami - Sami, Sami, Sami - Sami, Sami, Sami - Sami, Sami, Sami - She scored the last 12 points to secure the win for the UW Dawgs
In being able to lead her team by getting to the rim and hitting free throws in addition to hitting the game-winning three-pointer, Whitcomb is establishing herself as the type of star player who can single-handedly take over a game offensively when her team needs it.
Yes, team defense is important as Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans described in her blog about the game. Certainly, Sarah Morton’s play at the point – recording 12 points on 4-8 shooting and 5 assists -- is vital to the success of the Huskies’ offense. And Whitcomb is a player that definitely plays within the team concept, not forcing shots but finding good scoring opportunities within the flow of the offense.
Yet in their two nail biters to open the season, Whitcomb has shouldered the majority of the responsibility for putting the Huskies in position to win. Statistically, she is by far the most significant individual contributor to the team.
She’s an efficient scorer, shooting 60% on the season. Most importantly, her improved ball skills are paying off as well, committing only one turnover in two games and possessing the capacity to set up teammates well off the dribble. As of right now, she’s an extremely efficient player that has also demonstrated the ability to make plays for herself and others.
As Johnson alluded to, Whitcomb’s talent alone makes the UW women’s basketball team worth watching.
Perhaps the question for the Huskies is a matter of balance: if (and when) teams begin focusing exclusively on shutting down Whitcomb, who else will step up and take responsibility for leading the team to victory? Will they be able to expect consistent production from their bench over the course of the season?
In the meantime, UW can enjoy a well-deserved home victory to give them an extra emotional boost as they head to Spokane, Washington to face Gonzaga.
Click the photo below to see a slideshow of the game.
Whitcomb shooting the game winning shot three-pointer over BYU guard Mindy Nielson.