The Huskies aren’t a finished product, which is really a good thing. They’re not going to win out, they’re not a world champion team. But, they still have room to improve, so there’s hope. It would be insane to have your thinking so warped that only a national championship could bring you joy from this team. Better to keep your expectations more in the rational range. A regular season conference title would be fantastic. A Pac-12 Tournament title would be amazing. An NCAA Tournament appearance, quite honestly, would be the best possible scenario for this team, regardless of whether or not it goes on to win a single game (although, if you’ll permit me to be greedy, I’d REALLY like to see the Huskies get past the play-in round, so I can cheer them on when I’m gambling in Tahoe during the first weekend of the tournament).
There’s a limit to how well this team can play, so sometimes you’re going to see the Huskies get run out of the gym like they did in Arizona a few weeks ago. Or, just spin their wheels for 40 minutes like they did on Saturday down in USC, ultimately losing by 10 points. In this game, it was just your garden variety defensive breakdown, as the Trojans got to the basket at will, with either their guards finishing, or dishing to nearby big men who’d finish for them. We got beat pretty soundly on the boards, we got KILLED at the free throw line (where USC scored 32 of their 98 points), and offensively, we shot pretty terribly, particularly from long range.
The Huskies can hang with the better teams – and sometimes even beat them – but there are going to be times where the better teams just overwhelm. One would hope that, by season’s end, getting overwhelmed won’t be a regular occurrence.
It’s unfortunate that the defense was so non-existent on Saturday, because offensively – even with how poorly the Huskies shot the ball from three (8 of 32) – they did enough to win that game by putting up 88 points. On the road, the Huskies went to the line 28 times, hitting a crazy 24 of them. They also managed 18 offensive rebounds and 18 assists. And, while USC shot a high number of free throws, none of our bigs were in foul trouble (the only Huskies who fouled out were Dorsey and Andrews, but that was after Andrews had already played 38 of 40 minutes).
That one hurts a little bit in the long run, but it can be made up for this weekend when the Huskies host Arizona. While it’ll be important to not overlook the Sun Devils on Wednesday, it’s pretty vital for the Huskies to find a way to win on Saturday against the
18th 23rd ranked Wildcats. Primarily to atone for the 32-point drubbing last month, but also simply to improve our stock in RPI and give us another significant win.