February 23, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Mailbag: Washington wants fourth place in Pac-12; Gonzaga goes for outright WCC title and other notes
Once again, Washington coach Kevin McGuff will be watching for the “hangover” with his team. UW lost 60-46 at Utah on Friday, a game it needed to win to keep NCAA tournament hopes alive. Washington continued its poor shooting stretch against Utah. The Huskies shot 30.5 percent from the field overall, 8 for 32 in the second half.
“That was as good as we’ve played defensively in a long time,” Utes coach Anthony Levrets told reporters on Friday. Former Cleveland HS standout Cheyenne Wilson had five points in the game.
Washington didn’t have a “hangover,” sulking its collective head in playing USC the following Sunday after the four-point loss to No. 17 UCLA at Alaska Airlines Arena, however. Aside from McGuff’s concerns, UW beat USC 61-58 the following Sunday. Will that be true this Sunday at No. 20 Colorado?
Sure, the Utah loss is a prick in Washington’s NCAA bubble, but UW (19-7, 11-4) still has plenty it needs to accomplish.
The Huskies are tied for third with the Bruins (19-6, 10-4) in Pac-12 standings. UCLA hosts rival USC (8-17, 5-9) on Sunday. A UW win against CU (21-5, 10-5) would clinch at least fourth-place for the Huskies, which includes a bye in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament in March at KeyArena. Third place would mean UW could stay out of No. 4 Stanford’s bracket.
And there’s always the National Invitation Tournament, which has its own seeding process. UW needs a strong finish to seal a good seed there if overlooked for the NCAA tourney.
Colorado’s behind Washington in conference standings, but is definitely one of the forces in the Pac-12. It’s on a six-game win streak and is 20-0 against unranked teams this season. The Buffs’ schedule was front-loaded, playing powers Stanford and N0. 6 Cal twice and UCLA once by Feb. 1 in the conference season. Those, of course, are its only losses of the season. CU finishes conference play at the Oregon schools.
As has been well documented, UW plays the conference powers once, but they’re all in the final two weeks off Pac-12 play.
“It’s a bear,” McGuff said. “But everybody’s got a part of their schedule that’s hard. We’re going through a difficult stretch with a combination of quality opponents and road games. It is what it is. It’s a tough league with a lot of great teams. You’ve got to play them sometime, this is when the Pac-12 put them on our schedule, so that’s when we play them. That’s it.”
CU defeated Washington State 59-45 at home on Friday.
ONE FOR THE PINKY TOE: OK, Gonzaga would have to win one more West Coast Conference title to truly have a trophy for every extremity. The Zags going for its ninth in a game against BYU on Saturday is still impressive. If GU (23-5, 13-1 WCC) wins, it’ll have the regular-season title outright, poo-pooing BYU’s early nod to win the title by prognosticators. A win would also be coach Kelly Graves’ 350th career victory.
The Zags play at the Cougars’ house at 1pm (PT) on BYUtv.
If the Zags lose, it will have to defeat Portland at home in its season-finale to seal the championship outright. BYU (19-7, 10-3) plays at LMU and Portland to end its season.
POINTED OUT: Kentwood HS produced another top PG in the nation. Following WNBA All-Star Courtney Vandersloot’s lead, alum Lindsey Moore was tapped as one of seven PG’s being considered for the prestigious Nancy Lieberman award. The announcement of the three finalists and one winner will be made during the NCAA Final Four weekend April 7-9 in New Orleans. The winner will attend an award luncheon in Detroit, Mich.
Vandersloot won the award in 2011, but the outlook is doubtful for Moore. Notre Dame PG Skylar Diggins has also been nominated and won in 2012.
Moore is putting up some good numbers for the No. 24 Huskers (20-6, 12-3 Big Ten). She’s averaging 14.9 points and 5.5 assists, shooting 46.2 percent from the field. Moore is a 40.6 percent shooter from three-point range this season.
RECRUITING TRAIL: Washington signee Chantel Osahor is on the verge of winning a third consecutive Division I championship for St. Mary’s HS in Phoenix. The forward had 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as No. 1 St. Mary’s defeated fifth-seeded Hamilton 74-55 on Thursday. The title game is 1pm (PT) on Saturday at Jobing.com Arena.
FOR KICKS: So, hopefully you’ve heard about the “Harlem Shake” craze that’s replaced flash dancing as the spontaneous combustion of bodily movement for public consumption. Washington and local product Lindsey Moore joined the fun.
Huskies F Kristi Kingma made a no-lose bet for the team’s support staff to make a video, sharing that on Twitter last week. According to Kingma, if the team swept the Oregon schools, UW strength coach Rose Baker had to star in a version. Kingma isn’t in the clip, but you can watch it here.
Moore’s teammates at Nebraska made a fun one, too. You can check it out below.
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