Year Two of the June Daugherty regime at Washington State comes with the same slogan as Year One: "A New Championship Era. " The phrase can...

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PULLMAN — Year Two of the June Daugherty regime at Washington State comes with the same slogan as Year One:

“A New Championship Era.”

The phrase can be used pretty liberally in Pullman. The Cougars have compiled a conference record of 10-116 since 2001 and haven’t reached postseason play since 1991. So success of any variety would be improvement.

But genuine optimism surrounds the Cougars heading into this season, with the most heralded recruiting class in school history. Daugherty’s seven recruits add up to a class ranked No. 16 in the country by Blue Star Basketball, second only to USC in the Pac-10.

Not bad for a program that openly and notoriously said recruiting to Pullman was next to impossible before Daugherty arrived. Yet 11 of the 13 recruits who have visited WSU under Daugherty have committed.

Now that Daugherty has her players, she needs the buy-in to pay off on the court. After all, the team did go just 2-16 in the Pac-10 in Daugherty’s first season.

“We’re working hard to put a competitive product on the court,” she said. “Even though we didn’t get a lot of wins last season, the players really bought into the system and worked hard.”

Daugherty expects results now, but the Cougars will be starting three freshmen — guards April Cook and Jazmine Perkins and forward Rosie Tarnowski. Daugherty points out, however, that she started three freshmen back in 2001 at Washington, and the team won the Pac-10 title and advanced to the Elite Eight.

“We have to play every play like it’s the most important play of our life,” Daugherty recites to her players every day at practice. She says, “Some days we look very competitive, other days we look very average.”

Daugherty says she and her family have never been happier since moving to Pullman. And basketball-wise, she says she has never felt more support than she has now.

On the order of President Elson S. Floyd, the women have new facilities, including brand-new locker rooms and a practice court that is an exact replica of Friel Court in Beasley Coliseum.

“There’s just a real commitment to turn this thing around,” Daugherty said. “The culture is changing at Washington State. We know something real special is just around the corner.”


• Cook (21 points), Perkins (15) and Tarnowski (13) led the Cougars to an 86-61 victory over Concordia on Sunday in Pullman in WSU’s final exhibition game.