Huskies' Jeneva Anderson concentrating on being "perfect teammate"
Senior Jeneva Anderson, a 6-foot wing player, has to play a post role for Washington, which is short on big, inside players.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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It's lonely on one end of Washington's basketball court during practice.
Four post players rotate in and out while several guards work out on the other end.
"We'll do a drill and we'll be done or go get water, and they're still going," UW redshirt freshman Talia Walton said of the group of post players. "We're tired. We did (this) drill like eight times in a row. I'm excited for next year because we have more bodies coming."
For now, it's Walton (13.6 points) and sophomore Aminah Williams (12 rebounds) getting most of the attention and playing time as UW's key contributors. Not exactly how senior Jeneva Anderson pictured her senior year.
Washington (10-3, 2-0 Pac-12) plays at USC (5-8, 2-0) on Friday, and Anderson will be a deep reserve, tapped by UW coach Kevin McGuff when defense or more reliable ball-handling in the post is needed.
Anderson also doesn't have to deal with the transition to America's style of hoops like Danish freshman Mathilde Gilling, a 6-foot-3 center, is still navigating.
"When I first came here, the focus was on my defense," Anderson said. "That's probably the thing that's been the most consistent through my four years. But I've been here for four years. I have that leadership. I've seen a lot of things happen. So, I have that voice."
Anderson has been through the coaching change to McGuff from Tia Jackson, who recruited Anderson out of Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane. She had a hip injury her sophomore season. And throughout, Anderson's playing time dropped to 6.7 minutes her junior season, McGuff's first with the program, and 12.5 this season as the Huskies waded through injuries.
Yet, even with a shortened bench, Anderson still played minimal minutes in some nonconference matchups. That's a stark contrast to fellow senior Kristi Kingma, who's second in minutes played (38.1) and third in scoring (12.2 points).
"It's just adversity, like it is in life," Anderson said of her changing roles. "I believe coach McGuff has a vision and he plays the girls on the court he feels are appropriate at the time, and I just want to be a perfect teammate. Whatever the team is needing, I want to give."
Being a perfect teammate is why Anderson is one of the more popular players on the roster.
"She's got a good attitude," McGuff said. "She's playing hard. She knows what we're doing and she's kind of like a utility player, willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. With our lack of size, we have to play her on other teams' post players. It's not ideal for her, but she gives great effort in everything she does."
Anderson, a 6-foot wing, could be used more this week because USC and No. 14 UCLA (11-2, 2-0), Washington's opponent on Sunday, are quicker teams. Both are undefeated in conference play after each narrowly defeated Oregon and Oregon State last week.
The Huskies are undefeated, too, beating Arizona and Arizona State to start Pac-12 play at 2-0 for the first time since UW was 5-0 to start the 2006-07 conference season.
"This could be a gauge on how good we are," Anderson said of the trip.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com