We’re the only ranked Pac-10 team coming into the season. #18 in the AP, #17 in the Coaches. We’re coming off of a pretty solid run in last season’s NCAA Tournament, not to mention a pretty solid run at the end of the Pac-10 regular season and winning the Pac-10 Tournament. AND we only lost the one worthy senior in Quincy Pondexter.
Take a look at our roster and you can see why there are high hopes for the team from Montlake. Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton return to make opposing guards’ lives miserable. Justin Holiday (with his wicked-awesome jump shot discovered at the end of last season) and Matthew Bryan-Amaning look to provide solid scoring power as well as potential matchup problems for other teams. Abdul Gaddy is back, with a full season’s experience under his belt and some newfound confidence from his stint in summer ball. Darnell Gant and Scott Suggs – two ballers who can flat-out score – look to rebound from their minutes-starved season of a year ago. Then, there are players new to the fold: big man Aziz N’Diaye, outside specialists C.J. Wilcox and Desmond Simmons, and all-around hoss Terrence Ross who looks to have the potential to be the best player we’ve had since Brandon Roy.
With all of that, you may ask, why have the “cautiously” in there at all? That sounds like reason for “rabid optimism”!
Well, I have to say, I’ve seen this before. Last year in fact. We came into the season one of the few (if any) ranked teams in the Pac-10. In what everyone determined was a “Down Pac-10”. We had a lot of up-and-coming players, a deep bench, and we only really lost Brockman and Dentmon, after making an adequate run in the NCAA’s and a blistering run at the end of the Pac-10 season.
Then we got off to a slow start last year, looked downright befuddled early in the Pac-10 portion of the season, and didn’t really start to get it going until we were 12-7 overall and 3-5 in the conference. Yeah, sure, we went 14-3 after that (including both tournaments), but truly great teams don’t wait until the end of January before flipping the switch.
It’s that consistency we as Husky fans want to see.
Time will tell if this is truly a “Down Pac-10” like it supposedly was last year. I just want to see a Husky team that stays ranked well into its conference schedule before flipping the switch and really ramping up to a strong finish.
More on Husky Basketball later in the week as Game 1 tips this Saturday afternoon.