SEATTLE -- Kristi Kingma was just starting to learn how she could be most successful under new Washington coach Kevin McGuff when her senior season ended before it ever started.
It was the summer of 2011 and the Huskies were on a summer European tour when Kingma went down with a torn ACL. She was stuck as a spectator for the entire 2011-12 season as McGuff began directing a turnaround of Washington's program that ended with the most wins by the Huskies in nearly a decade.
Now healthy, Kingma returns for the 2012-13 season trying to lead Washington back into the upper-half of the Pac-12 Conference, a spot they once held regularly.
"Our coaches have created a culture where the team feels like family," Kingma said at Pac-12 media day last month. "We are working extremely hard and although the coaches push us, we know they have our back.”
McGuff was successful in his first season of re-establishing Washington as a respected program. The Huskies finished 20-14, their first winning record since 2007, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. It was Washington's first 20-win season since 2003.
Gone is leading scorer Regina Rogers and her inside presence that gave Washington 16.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last season. But sophomore Jazmine Davis returns after a dynamic freshman season during which she scored 15.7 points per game and was named the Pac-12 freshman of the year, the first Washington player to earn that honor since Karen Deden in 1988.
Davis is the anchor of an extremely young roster in McGuff's second season. Kingma and forward Jeneva Anderson are the only seniors. What was expected to be a dynamic incoming freshman class took a hit when McDonald's All-American Katie Collier suffered a torn ACL over the summer. She will miss the entire season. But Heather Corral, the 2012 AP Washington state high school player of the year, is expected to be an instant contributor.
Of the 12 players on the Huskies roster, seven are freshmen or sophomores.
The return of Kingma will be important for playing the up-tempo style McGuff seeks. In her junior season -- and last under former coach Tia Jackson -- Kingma was Washington's leading scorer, averaging 15.6 points and shooting better than 40 percent on 3-pointers.
Sitting on the bench for all of last season gave Kingma a perspective she didn't want but came to appreciate.
"It gave me a chance to see basketball from the other side and appreciate what I have. I learned that I am tougher than I thought I was and how much I love basketball," she said. "Now when we have a tough practice, I think back to last year and how I would have given anything to be back on the court.”
Along with Davis and Kingma, the Huskies hope Aminah Williams' exhibition performance is a sign of things to come. Williams had 20 points and 14 rebounds in an exhibition victory over Concordia (Oregon).
Washington opens its season on Friday hosting Saint Mary's, then plays three of the next four on the road. Washington's marquee matchup in the non-conference season is Dec. 21 at Georgia Tech, which advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament last year. The Huskies begin Pac-12 play on Jan. 4 hosting Arizona State.