Seems like it’s time to shift the paradigm when discussing the Huskies. Let’s forget about the Final Four (Wow, doesn’t that seem silly in hindsight?) and repeating as Pac-10 champion. With six games remaining in the regular-season, it’s time to start thinking about Pac-10 tournament seeding. Seriously.
Washington is sixth in the conference, however, USC is higher in the standings and the Trojans are on a self-imposed postseason tournament ban. So that makes UW fifth and right now it would play UCLA and could face California in the tournament semifinals.
Husky skeptics will argue it doesn’t matter where UW is ranked because unless the Pac-10 moves the conference tournament to Edmundson Pavilion, the Huskies won’t win a game. And there might some truth there, but it feels as if Washington is going to need a strong showing in the Pac-10 tournament to impress NCAA tourney officials for an at-large berth or claim the automatic berth that comes with winning the tourney.
But then maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse. Before Washington can think about the conference tourney, it needs to rally, regroup and get ready for Stanford.
It didn’t seem as if UW was suffering any lingering effects from tonight’s 93-81 defeat at Cal. The Huskies were thoroughly dominated in every phase, but at least they competed until the very end. Did you see Quincy Pondexter toss Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez in the final minutes? Or Venoy Overton and Abdul Gaddy scrap for loose balls? That stuff matters. That’s good body language and it bodes well for Saturday.
Folks were hyping tonight’s game as the biggest of the season, but I never bought into that. I didn’t think the Huskies could beat a quality team like Cal on the road and thought the game at Stanford could be the key to the season.
On paper, UW should beat the Cardinal in Seattle, Palo Alto, Calif. or anywhere else. But then, these are the Huskies and they haven’t won a game on the road so there’s no guarantees.
If Washington doesn’t win Saturday, then the Huskies likely win just one road game this season.
Think about it. Washington State is struggling this season, but it’s difficult beating a rival at home. Oregon is probably the only road-win lock because the Ducks may quit on coach Ernie Kent who sits firmly on the hot seat. And Oregon State is an odd team at home. The Beavers lost by 51 points at home to Seattle University, but they also beat Arizona and USC at Gill Coliseum.
Pondexter said the Huskies will need “a short memory,” to put the loss behind them.
Romar projected a confident image outside the visiting locker room at Haas Pavilion. He still claimed the winless road streak isn’t mental even though one notable observer disagreed.
I talked to former Husky star Jon Brockman and asked him what’s going on and he said: “It does seem mental, doesn’t it. It’s in their heads. They’ve got to believe they’ll win. They can do it, but we’ll see. We were like that my sophomore and junior years.”
— Would it surprise you to know before tonight, Elston Turner averaged more points on the road (6.7) than at home (4.6). It surprised me because generally three-point shooters don’t travel. Tonight UW shot 3 of 12 behind the arc. Turner was 0 for 2 and Scott Suggs 0 for 3.
For better or worse, UW has become dependent on one of them having a decent outing to win games. Whey they’re scoreless, that puts too much pressure on Thomas to carry the perimeter scoring load. He took seven treys and made three.
— Thomas had a solid game that was overshadowed by Jerome Randle’s 33 points. Thomas scored 24 and collected a team-high tying six rebounds.
— Justin Holiday tends to disappear in games like this because there’s not a single defender that he can lock on and shutdown. It felt as if he defended half of Cal’s team. At times he guarded Theo Robertson, Patrick Christopher and Randle.
— Washington is getting little production recently from starting point guard Abdul Gaddy and forward Tyreese Breshers. Gaddy has scored 11 total points in the past four games and Breshers has four points and two rebounds in the past two games. They’re both freshman and Romar has kept them in the starting lineup hoping they would mature and provide a spark late in the season. It looks, however, as if they’ve hit the proverbial rookie wall.
— While the freshmen are struggling, juniors Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Overton are progressing. Bryan-Amaning is averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the past two games. Overton has been on a tear since scoring 18 points Jan. 23 at USC.
— UW lost this game because it was dominated in rebounding in the first half. Cal nearly had more offensive rebounds (10) than UW had rebounds (12). Cal had 25 in the first half. The margin got a little closer in the second half, but by then the game was decided.
— Finally, the Huskies received a few visitors after the game. Brockman stopped by and he looks in fantastic shape. He said he’s still 255 pounds, but he’s trim in the midsection. Former Husky Artem Wallace, sporting last year’s Pac-10 championship t-shirt, accompanied Brockman. And UW recruit Desmond Simmons stopped by and spoke to the coaching staff.