As expected (though no less fucking enraging), the Huskies lost to the Ducks last Thursday, ending their chances for an NCAA Tournament berth. Our 18-14 record ended up good enough for a 3-seed in the N.I.T. though, which means the Huskies will host Long Beach State tonight at 6pm. Catch the game on ESPN2, or better yet, attend the game in person! N.I.T. tickets are always dirt fucking cheap, and you can get some really good seats on or near the floor (especially in these early games).
Back in 2012, in the Tony Wroten year, I went to a couple N.I.T. games. The opener had MAYBE 2,000 people in attendance, and that’s the game where my friends and I had some amazing seats a couple rows back, under one of the baskets. I went again the following week when the Huskies hosted the quarterfinal game against Oregon and it was the single greatest basketball game I’ve ever seen in person in my life (a 90-86 Husky victory that was a back-and-forth affair all game long).
So, I know, the N.I.T. sucks, but it’s still basketball, and it can be really cool if you just get over yourself and get into it for what it is. I mean, you can make the Big Dance as a low seed and most likely lose in the first round, or you can play in a tournament against similarly-matched teams and maybe make some noise. Let’s just say, for this team, that doesn’t have a very deep roster, I’d rather get as much basketball as I can. And, when I’m in Tahoe later this week, I still hope to put money on the Dawgs, because I’m a degenerate gambler and I don’t know no better.
As for last week’s game against the Ducks, MAN was that one a crusher! We started out hot early (always a plus) and kept it close throughout even though Andrews didn’t do much of anything in the first half. By the time Andrews did start to take over, it was late in the second half, and Oregon had pushed its lead to double digits. Nevertheless, some hot shooting and a lot of free throws walked them down.
There were a couple things that really swung the game away from us. First of all, after Andrews started to get going – at the under-4 minute mark – we gave up a layup to let the Ducks expand their lead to 4 points. Andrews promptly took a heat-check three that missed badly, which turned into another layup for the Ducks to push their lead back out to 6 points. That didn’t hold us back long, with less than two minutes to go, the Huskies had pulled to within two, and forced a turnover to boot. Marquese Chriss had the ball in his hands for the easiest dunk of his life, though, and jammed it right off the back of the rim and out. If either of those misses go the other way, it’s a totally new ballgame. The Chriss dunk especially, as that would’ve tied it up with 67 seconds to go. Nail that and you likely force the Ducks into calling a time out. Or, either way, you’re able to get back and set up your defense better on the subsequent possession.
And even if it plays out exactly as it did – with the Ducks missing a jumper, but grabbing their whopping 17th offensive rebound at the 41-second mark – if the game’s tied there, we still don’t have to foul; whereas, down 2, we DID have to foul, and of course they made both free throws to salt away the game.
That game displayed everything that’s great about the Huskies, as well as all of their faults. Crisp can be streaky, like when he made three 3-pointers in a row early in the first half; but he can also be streaky, like when he missed his last four 3-pointers, and hardly shot the ball at all in the second half when that streak got into his head.
Chriss is one of the most talented big men I’ve seen out of this program since Jon Brockman; but he has this knack for blowing wide open dunks like he did at the end of the game.
Murray is likely a first round draft pick, with excellent dribble-drive skills and a nice floater; but he misses a distressing number of free throws for a guard.
Andrews is as good a senior as this team has had in a long time, but he disappears far too often by either deferring his own shot, or just going ice cold and not forcing the action into the paint until late in the game, resembling a last resort mentality.
Dime is one of the best blocking centers we’ve ever had; but he fouls too much, especially late in the shot clock after he’s been beaten on the move.
I could go on and on, but what it all means is a frustrating end to a frustrating season. One that started with such promise, but ended up sinking like a stone. The N.I.T. is our reward at the bottom of the lake. On the plus side, it means we likely get a lot more basketball; on the down side, it’s not the Tourney we were looking for.