Tina Langley knows better than anyone what she’s getting herself into at Washington.
She’s a program builder, and the Husky women’s basketball team is in shambles.
“When you compare the programs, there are definitely some similarities,” said Langley, who spent the previous six years refurbishing a dilapidated Rice team and compiling a 126-61 record. “When we come into this program this year I think there will be a lot of enthusiasm for women’s basketball.”
Langley, who held an introductory news conference alongside athletic director Jen Cohen via Zoom on Wednesday, understands the challenge ahead of her.
During an initial 30-minute meet and greet with local media, the 47-year-old Alabama native laid out her visions for UW hoops and offered a little insight as to why she made the untraditional move from Houston to the Pacific Northwest for her first head-coaching job at a Power Five program.
Here are a few things you need to know about Langley.
— She’s a disciple of Brenda Frese, the 2021 Associated Press women’s coach of the year who built a powerhouse program at Maryland, where Langley spent seven seasons, including the last five as associate head coach.
— Rice didn’t have a winning record during the four years prior to her arrival and finished 9-21 in 2014-15 before she took over the program. However, in her last five years the Owls went 117-39, including a 2019 NCAA tournament appearance and a WNIT championship this past season.
— And Langley is a reputed defensive whiz, although she dodged a couple questions about her team’s playing style.
“I’ve tried to be adaptable to the personnel that we have,” she said. “We do love to score the basketball, but I don’t know if we have to take 100 shots to do that. We want to be efficient in what we do. We love to play fast, but we also know if we have an elite player and we need to play a little slower for that elite player, we want to do that as well.”
During the past five years, Rice averaged 67.1 points and finished in the middle of the pack in scoring in the 14-team C-USA. Still, the Owls, who shot 45.6% from the field during that span, ranked no lower than third each season in the league in shooting percentages.
Defensively, Rice separated itself from every other team in the conference while holding opponents to an average of 57.9 points and 36.9% shooting in the past five years, which ranked no lower than third in the league each season in both categories.
“We really love players who can score the basketball at all three levels,” Langley said. “We love players that can play multiple positions. … And we really have a commitment to player development. Young women who are eager and excited to learn the game and be a little positionless at times really fit us as well. But we also love the great player.”
Since accepting a six-year, $4 million deal from Washington on Monday, Langley has spent the past two days getting acquainted with a rapidly shrinking Husky team.
A UW spokesperson confirmed junior forward Haley Van Dyke, sophomore center Quay Miller and freshman point guard Tameiya Sadler — the team’s top three leading scorers — entered the NCAA transfer portal last week.
Van Dyke (12.0 points per game), Sadler (10.4) and Miller (9.9) represent 54.9% of Washington’s scoring last season from a team that finished 7-14 and 3-13 in the Pac-12.
At the moment, it’s also unclear if Langley will be able to retain UW’s well-regarded incoming freshman class (A.J. Marotte, Marisa Davis, Avery VanSickle and Olivia Pollerd) that was ranked 16th nationally among 2021 recruits by espnW.
“My first (steps) has been getting to know these young women,” Langley said. “I want to be on the phone. We started some Zoom calls collectively and individually and really take our time to get to know one another and understand how we can take this journey going forward. My entire focus right now is on them and on future Huskies as well.”
Washington hasn’t finished higher than ninth in the Pac-12 in the past four years, but despite the recent downturn Langley spoke glowingly about the program’s distant past.
“So many amazing young women have come through this program and the coaches that have come before have all done a part in building it to something that can be really special,” she said. “They laid a great foundation, but there’s also history of success — a Final Four and players that are playing professionally.
“I have extreme respect for this program. When you can look at history and see something can be done, you know it can be done again. So we’re excited to take on that challenge.”