Kacie Sowell takes charge for Seattle U women
The Redhawks are entering their first season in the WAC after a four-year reclassification process to return to Division I status.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Kacie Sowell is used to being overlooked.
It happened as a sophomore in high school when she dumped volleyball and softball to follow her basketball passion. She was tall — 6 feet 2 — but coaches judged that was her only talent, having Sowell standing under the basket and not doing anything due to inexperience.
After learning the game, she was still greeted with the same misrepresentation again this past summer at her local California gym.
Sowell, a junior post at Seattle University, shot hoops daily until the men arrived.
"They wouldn't let me play," she said. "Finally, I got in a game and I played so well the first game, that's all I wanted. Then they're like, 'Oh, yeah, you can play!' "
Sowell whispered "finally" to herself and carried on with her training, knowing SU's upcoming season would include even more of having to prove herself all over again.
The Redhawks are entering their first season in the Western Athletic Conference after a five-year reclassification process to return to Division I status. SU knows little about its new opponents outside what it learned in a road victory against Idaho last season.
Sowell was named to the preseason All-WAC first team after averaging a double-double in 2011-12. Teammate Ashley Ward, a 5-11 forward, was named to the preseason second team.
But how the Redhawks will react to their new conference setting is unknown.
"I'm excited about it because you can see the goals," Sowell said. "You want to win the WAC, and then you want to win the conference tournament and go to the NCAAs."
SU finished 20-12 last season, advancing to the Women's Basketball Invitational semifinals. The Redhawks lost second-leading scorer Talisa Rhea (10.1 points) and point guard Elle Kerfoot off that team.
Yet, with Sowell as a returning anchor and guards Daidra Brown, Sylvia Shephard and Makenna Clark able to lead the offense, the team could be a surprise.
Sowell gained muscle mass and worked on shooting a midrange jumper consistently to prepare for the season. She's expected to be joined inside by Kenyan forward Brenda Adhiambo.
"She's smarter," SU coach Joan Bonvicini said of Sowell. "She's highly self-motivated and a focused basketball player. She does extra work outside practice; every week she watches film. The reason she's a good player is because of the work she does."
In a preseason poll, coaches picked the Redhawks to finish fourth.
"There's a lot more work for our staff," Bonvicini said of scouting the WAC. "But there was a mind shift from (Sowell) and all of the team. Once she realized she could score in double figures every game and get double-figure rebounds — that's the new standard. For our team, our standards have changed to an expectation to win."
Then everyone will take notice.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org