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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

February 27, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Who are the Huskies?

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Obviously I’m not on the NCAA tournament selection committee, but I don’t believe the Huskies are a lock to make the Big Dance anymore. Not now. If they lose their next three games including their opener in the Pac-10 Tournament, then that would mean a four-game losing streak as well as five defeats in the last six games. In this scenario, Washington would finish 19-12 and it would likely be bound for the NIT.
To make the NCAA tournament, I believe if Washington loses one game next week, then it will need to win at least one game in the Pac-10 Tournament. If it loses two games, then it will need to win two in the conference tournament.
If the Huskies sweep the Los Angeles schools at home (UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday), I think UW will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Not sure what seed, but expect something between 8-12.
If I were a UW fan, I’d hope for an 11 or 12 seed, which offers a better chance of advancing to the Sweet 16. The Nos. 8, 9 and 10 seeds are killer games. Plus if you win in the first round, you likely have to face a No. 1 or 2 seed in the next round.
But the bigger question after Washington’s shocking 80-69 defeat to Washington State tonight is who are the Huskies?
What happened to the team that started the Pac-10 season with what was supposed to be a program-changing sweep in Los Angeles in late December?
Where’s the swagger? The bravado? The veteran leadership?
Washington was the overwhelming pick to win a weak conference. They talked about going undefeated in the Pac-10. Now they have six losses in the league and five against teams in the bottom half of the conference.
They said they learned their lessons from a three-game losing streak loss month that started with a defeat to Washington State. They promised a renewed commitment to defense and in the first half, UW’s defense kept things close.
But in the second half, the Cougars raced down every important loose ball. The Cougars made the hustle plays. The Cougars received 21 points from 16 UW turnovers. And they shot better in Washington’s building where the Huskies had a 14-game winning streak.
Coach Lorenzo Romar was asked after the game if WSU is simply a bad matchup for his team. He disagreed.
But the Cougars have UW’s number this season. They’re the only team to sweep the regular-season series against the Huskies. And this win wasn’t a fluke. WSU took control late in the first half and UW only made it a game when it got desperate and pressed full court. Isaiah Thomas (above) tried to carry the Huskies to a comeback, but he needed considerably more help than what he received.
Thomas said he would have his guys ready to play, but they came out uninspired and missed 28 of 36 shots in the first half, including misfiring on 12 of 13 three-pointers.
Washington’s 17 first-half points were the fewest points scored before the break for a Romar-led UW team.
So who are the Huskies?
They’re a team that still shoots too many three-pointers. They’re a team that still freezes at times when facing a zone defense. And maybe they were overrated early in the season.
“I’m still confident in this team and what we can do,” Matthew Bryan-Amaning said. “This is not the game we wanted to have, but maybe this is what we need to put us on the right track.”
Didn’t the three-game losing streak do that? Didn’t the close loss at Arizona last week re-focus them?
Apparently not. With so much on the line, they suffered a loss at home that makes you wonder if this team has what it takes to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
“I think we’re going to be okay,” Justin Holiday said. “We’re a team that has been through situations like this and I think we’ll be able to answer. I sure hope we do.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:


— Thomas had a good game. Not sure if any other UW player can say the same thing. He converted half of his 16 shots for 21 points. He also had five assists, which offset two turnovers. There’s something going on with his free throw shooting. He connected on 2 of 6 after making 5 of 10 on Tuesday against Seattle University.
Venoy Overton was nearly the hero. He sparked a second-half run with his defensive pressure. The comeback fell short, but that’s not Overton’s fault. He finished with eight points off the bench. As good as he was in the second half, he made a few defensive gaffes early in the game. Reggie Moore and Klay Thompson each made it their mission to drive to the rim every time they were paired against Overton.
— After the game it looked as if Holiday had a private workout in one of the auxiliary gyms. Quincy Pondexter used to do that all the time. Holiday may have felt he needed the extra work after committing a team-high four turnovers. He also had five assists. Offensively, his shot is off. Holiday needed 11 shots to score 11 points. And defensively, Holiday couldn’t slow down Thompson, who finished with a game-high 26 points.
When asked the most frustrating part of the game, Holiday said: “Not being able to get over the hump and being able to fight back. Fight back and then we do something not smart. Like when we were fighting back and then Isaiah passed to me on the wing and then I threw it and we got a turnover. That’s frustrating, especially coming from me because that’s something that should not happen. There are a lot of things. We can go on and on about what happened in the game, but just not being able to go over the hump and win. I do think we fought back, but we didn’t fight enough.”
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— Bryan-Amaning had a devil of a time in the first half. He was scoreless on five attempts. In the second half, the senior forward converted 3 of 6 from the field and 8 of 9 from the line for 14 points. He made some highlight plays including a race-down block from behind. He also had two steals and 10 rebounds for his 10th double double of the season. But it does no good to notch a double double if WSU’s primary low-post player has an amazing game. DeAngelo Casto finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Aziz N’Diaye was the biggest player on the floor, but you’d never know it because he didn’t play big. He spent a lot of time fumbling away passes or attempting to feather in a putback when a dunk would have been better served.
C.J. Wilcox played just six minutes in the first half and attempted just one shot. Not sure why. Forgot to ask Romar about that. In the past two games, Wilcox hasn’t shot the ball well. He was 1 of 6 tonight and 1 for 8 on Tuesday.
— Another five-rebound night for Darnell Gant, including four on the offensive glass. That’s a bonus. But it wasn’t a great night for the junior reserve forward who shot 1 of 4 from the field. He also had three turnovers, which offset four points.
— Maybe Terrence Ross has hit the freshman wall. Whatever the case, he’s been very inconsistent and he no longer brings energy off the bench that was his trademark. Ross was scoreless and missed on five shots, including three three-pointers.
— When Wilcox and Ross struggle like they have in the past two games, it makes Scott Suggs’ absence even more glaring. The Huskies hope he returns Thursday, but he still walks with a little limp. His strained left MCL will be re-evaluated this week.
Photo credits: AP Photo – Ted S. Warren

Comments | Topics: C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, UCLA

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