This week's women's basketball notebook features Idaho freshman guard/wing Christina Salvatore, who is ahead of pace to break the school's record for 3-pointers in a season. Read story
Salvatore and Ballestero both received good reports about Idaho from Vandals point guard Krissy Karr, who went to Orange Lutheran High in Anaheim and is now a sophomore.
Salvatore said she and Ballestero chose Idaho independently, despite being on the same club team. Newlee recruited both but said they weren't a package deal.
"I love the basketball they play, the style they play," Newlee said of the OC Rhythm teammates.
Salvatore gave great credit to her club team for helping her develop the nonshooting aspects of her game - dribbling, defense, foot work.
Newlee said Salvatore is talented well beyond her 3-point shooting.
"I'm on her all the time to create off the dribble and get to rim more," Newlee said, also praising Salvatore's pull-up jumper.
Salvatore has started 14 of the Vandals' 18 games.
"Coach Newlee approached me before the first game and said I would be the first player off the bench," Salvatore said. "I definitely had to work for my starting spot and it still could change, depending on who we play."
"She worked her way into the starting lineup," said Newlee, who noted that he would start seniors, freshmen or whoever gives the team the best chance to win. The Vandals usually start three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior.
The Vandals had a rough nonconference schedule and finished 3-8. They are 4-3 in the WAC heading into this week's games in Texas.
"I thought coming in that we'd have a lot of parity in the conference," Newlee said. ... "I thought with the people we had coming in and coming back that we'd be in the midst of it."
Salvatore said the Vandals were embarrassed by their season opener, a 33-point loss to Wyoming, but the team came back and lost by just five points to Colorado, which is 15-2 this season.
"After the game I remember Coach saying, 'I'm not into moral victories, but this was a moral victory,' " Salvatore said.
"I understand it's going to be a roller coaster ... the highs are going to be high and the lows are going to be low," Newlee said. ... "I definitely came into the year knowing I'd have to be patient with them."
Salvatore was born and raised in Anaheim, but her parents, Philip and Elena, came from New York City. Her parents have been able to see her in two road games and two games in Moscow this year.
Salvatore is majoring in psychology, but she may change that later.