Photo credit: AP Photo – Mark J. Terrill
In his latest update on ESPN’s subscriber site, everyone’s favorite person Joe Lunardi has the Huskies in the NCAA tournament. He includes them among the last seven in the tourney. In order the list reads: Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia Tech, San Diego State, Illinois, UW and Ole Miss.
Not sure that means, but it’s a lot better than a week ago when the Huskies were on the outside of the bubble discussion.
Despite Washington’s 59-52 win tonight over Oregon State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament, I don’t believe a win tomorrow in the semis against Stanford guarantees the Huskies a ticket to the Big Dance because there’s still too many crazy scenarios that could work against them.
For instance, what if California loses to UCLA in the other semis and the Bruins win the conference tourney. We know Cal is lock and UCLA would win the automatic berth. Not sure if the selection committee would take a third Pac-10 team, even a 23-10 team.
That’s why this Bubble Watch stuff drives me nuts. Too many variables.
But this much we do know, Isaiah Thomas is a gamer.
In hindsight it hardly mattered that he took a career-high 12 three-pointers. What matters most is he connected on three treys in the second half, which broke the Beavers’ spirit and helped UW to climb out of a 12-point hole.
Every trey was timely and needed. The first tied the score 37-37 with 12:26 left. The second one pushed UW’s lead to six (43-37). And when OSU made a run and pulled within two points (49-47), Thomas hit another three at the 4:41 mark to give the Huskies some breathing room.
Feels like I buried the lede about Thomas’ injury and more attention should be given to his status for the Friday’s game at Stanford. But Thomas shies away from questions. He’s treating it as no big deal, so at the moment maybe it’s no big deal.
But if his hand is truly broken, then that could be a major story. A UW spokesman told me the hand was bruised early in the season, which is less alarming than broken. Stay tuned.
— Matthew Bryan-Amaning played a patient game, but then he had to because the Beavers packed the paint with a 2-3 zone that limited his touches. When he did shoot, he was made most of them. Bryan-Amaning converted 5 of 6 shots for 10 points. He also had four assists and two blocks.
— Elston Turner has sank a three-pointer in six of the past seven games. Tonight he had two and UW needed both of them.
— Quincy Pondexter is still suffering from the cold or flu or some type of illness. He says he’s taken everything possible to help him feel better, but admitted he wasn’t himself. He also said he hadn’t practiced this week and it looked as if he was off his game. It didn’t help matters that OSU guarded the basket with 7-foot Roeland Schaftenaar and 6-10 Angus Brandt.
Pondexter said he felt better Thursday than he did Monday and believes he’ll improve a little more before Friday.
I had a chance to talk to former Oregon State star Gary Payton after the game and he was impressed with Pondexter, even though the Husky senior didn’t play particularly well. Payton said Pondexter has a NBA future because “that dude is a beast. He works hard.”
— It might not show up in the box score, but the game turned when Venoy Overton came into the game early in the first half. He has that type of effect. He does little things that annoy the opposition and speed up the game.
After Abdul Gaddy committed a turnover with 19:10 left in the half, coach Lorenzo Romar put Overton in and it’s no coincidence that’s when UW began to press full court and went on a 20-2 run to erase the 35-23 deficit and take a 43-37 lead.
Overton stats were modest: 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 turnovers. But it’s important to note OSU guard Calvin Haynes only had two points on 1-for-7 shooting.
— Justin Holiday disappears against a team like the Beavers because there’s nobody for him to lock onto and shut down. Still, he made contributions and finished with five points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two turnovers.
— Give the Huskies credit for being patient and figuring out OSU’s zone. They didn’t panic on the road when it looked as if their run to the tournament would end abruptly.
Remember when there were questions about UW’s ability to win on the road? That seems like eons ago. Washington has won five straight games away from home and five straight overall.