By Madisen Carter
University of Washington women’s basketball player, Haley Van Dyke, is getting ready for her final year as a Husky. With training back and forth from her home town of Walnut Creek, to Seattle to Santa Barbara, she wants to be even better than she was in her junior season.
Last season, Van Dyke had an impressive stat line in the short 21-game season. She led the team with 12 points and 2.1 steals per game, and also averaged 1.4 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. She had 15 games scoring in the double digits and two games scoring 20 points or more.
The 12 point average was the highest average Van Dyke has had so far in her career with Washington. Van Dyke said she knew that since she decided she wanted to play ball professionally, she started to dedicate more time towards her game and knew she needed to take on more of a leadership role on the team as an upperclassmen.
“I think I just put my mind to [the game] a little bit more than I have in the past, and I kind of adopted the role of just being a leader on the team,” Van Dyke said. “I think that was a big part of my past season.”
Van Dyke completed her junior season with a total of 251 points, 122 rebounds and 45 steals in the 21 games she played. She was named both 2021 All Pac-12 Honorable Mention and 2021 All Pac-12 Defensive Honorable Mention.
Her best game of the season was against Utah on February 19th when she led the team to a 78-61 victory with a career-high 22 points. Although she had many great moments during her games, she said her favorite memory from the season was the bond she and her teammates had formed.
“How close we got as a team I think was my favorite part of the season, because our record wasn’t the best, and in a situation like that it could easily go down hill and we can turn it against each other,” Van Dyke said. “A big part of it was that we didn’t and we stuck together, and honestly I think we got stronger through it, which is really important.”
After the Huskies finished the 2020-21 season 7-14 overall, Van Dyke announced in March that she would be entering the NCAA transfer portal. Van Dyke said it is important for her to be on a winning team, and since the team had not been in the three years Van Dyke has played, it was hard to be successful.
“I don’t think I’ve even come close to reaching my full potential as an individual, and I didn’t think I was going to do that there. I felt like I needed to explore my options,” Van Dyke said. “Then the new coach, Tina [Langley], got hired and I heard nothing but amazing things about her and she hired the most amazing staff. I could not not come back, it was like a no brainer for me.”
In the beginning of April, Washington hired former Rice head coach, Tina Langley. Langley comes to Washington with a resume that includes five consecutive 20-win seasons with Rice and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019. Langley brought on Dan Tacheny, Katie Faulkner and Latara King as the new assistant coaches for Washington.
In May, Van Dyke announced that she will be returning to Washington. She said she loves the University of Washington, her teammates and the friends she has made there.
She said that during this off-season, she has been traveling to Seattle for small week periods at a time to work with Langley and the rest of the staff.
“It’s just been a night and day difference from what I am used to. I feel like I am in a professional setting to be honest, it’s going very well,” Van Dyke said. “[Langley] knows exactly what she is talking about, and the way she explains she is going to use me next year is exactly what I think is going to help me become a professional [player] and help us win.”
Van Dyke has continued to put in work this off-season. For the past few months she has also trained with UPB’s Coach Packie Turner in the Bay and in Santa Barbara. She said they worked on coming off the ball screen and with her confidence shooting the ball.
“I honestly have seen the most improvement in my game than I’ve ever seen before. He’s helped me build my confidence more than anything. I think that’s a big thing I lacked in the past, is just having the confidence to know that I’m good, and to know that I can be really good if I put the work in,” Van Dyke said. “I just think that he’s made a huge impact on my career so far, and he’s really pushing me to be better and [to] become a better player and better person. That’s definitely what I have noticed in the past couple of months.”
Van Dyke mentioned that she and Packie took pilate classes together at UPPilates with Stella Sandoval, and how she has been implementing yoga into her routine, both to help with injury purposes. She said she has already noticed an improvement overall taking care of her health and body.
As the upcoming season continues to get closer, Van Dyke said that she is most looking forward to the team culture that the team is building for next season, and how it has already improved.
“This year with the new coaching staff, I already feel like our relationships are so much better with our coaches, and I think that’s super important for being on a successful team,” Van Dyke said. “That’s what I’m really excited for. I’m excited to see where that will take us, and playing with the new girls, and having kind of a fresh start and a clean slate to build from.”
There are high hopes for the 2021-22 season, with 10 of the 16 players returning from last season, a new coaching staff and a few new players ready to make an impact. Van Dyke and the rest of the Huskies start their official team workouts on July 25th.