The main reason why I was so excited about THIS Husky team was because we were only losing one guy from a team that made the Sweet 16.
The main reason why we’re underachieving thus far and will ultimately go nowhere in the Tournament is because we lost that one guy.
We no longer have Quincy Pondexter, which means we no longer have a guy who can hit a clutch shot. But, more than that, we no longer have a guy we can lean on in those tough games where everyone else’s shot is bricking like crazy. Sure, Q-Pon wasn’t always on with his shot, but at least he had the presence to draw fouls. Get to the line. Put the team on his back and will them to victory.
No one on this team does that. At all.
Let’s take a look at our heir apparent to Jon Brockman, senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Remember when Brockman would take over a game at the end when his team needed him the most? Remember when Brockman would seemingly grab every offensive rebound and make every put-back around the rim to snatch victory from defeat? MBA, I know Jon Brockman, I’ve seen Jon Brockman, and you sir are no Jon Brockman.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy who’s so seemingly productive on paper (averaging 16 and 8 per game) turn into a complete ghost in the biggest games. Tonight, for instance, he was 3 for 11 shooting; and his opponent burned him for 20 points and 13 rebounds (including some maddening offensive putbacks late in the game when it was still in doubt). In the last Arizona game – yeah he had 24 points and shot pretty well – but he travelled on the final possession with the game on the line AND his first instinct was to kick it out instead of take it to the rock when he’d been dominating all half (saying nothing of the fact that he didn’t even show up in the first 20 minutes). In the previous Wazzu game: 1 for 8, a total non-factor. In the subsequent Oregon State game, 12 points. In the Stanford loss, 8 points. In the Texas A&M game, 8 points. In the Kentucky game, 7 points. I think you get the idea. I can’t remember a guy who’s feasted more on inferior opponents, then subsequently faltered on the kids his own size. Unreal.
What about our other senior forward, Justin Holiday? He spent all offseason working on his outside game, working on being more assertive, working on being a leader. The guy shoots 40% from beyond the arc, and he too is nowhere to be seen in the big games. All that work on his outside shot did NOTHING to help this team right now. We HAVE guys who can shoot threes! Wilcox, Ross, Suggs, Thomas; what we NEED is a small forward who can dribble drive, draw fouls, and take a game over. Instead of jacking all those outside shots, maybe he should’ve worked on taking his man to the hoop. I dunno.
So, let’s just get to Isaiah Thomas, because let’s be honest: there’s no one else on this team even CLOSE to being the leader he is. You’re not going to find me firing shots at him today or any other day, because he honestly does everything he can to put this team on his back and be the Q-Pon and Brockman this team needs. Tonight was no different: team-high 21 points, 8 for 16 shooting, 3 for 8 from three, 5 assists (would’ve been more if anyone could’ve hit a shot). But, you know what? Point guards are only as good as their supporting cast; rare is the night you’re going to see a point guard carry a team to victory. Because they have to be ON from downtown. Otherwise, the other team is going to clog the lane and prevent a player like IT from driving, especially late, when points are at a premium.
It’s just so frustrating. We only have ONE game where we won by less than 11 points. What can you learn about yourselves and your team if you lose just about every close game? In Romar’s previous teams, we ALWAYS had at least a game or two where we hit a last-second shot to win it. All season I’ve been waiting for it, and come up wanting every game.
Of course, the injuries don’t help. We were so highly touted coming into this season because we were the deepest team in the conference. Then we lose Gaddy, a primary ball-handler, and everyone’s role has to change. We lost Wilcox for a chunk of the season to lingering injuries that’s taken him until the last couple of weeks to recover from on the court. Now, we’re down Suggs and we have no idea when we’re going to get him back.
It’s one thing to lose Gaddy, that hurts next year’s team moreso than this one. But, losing one of our trifecta of bench shooters is seriously killing us. Because you can’t expect all of our shooters to be on every single game. However, you CAN expect at least 1 of our 3 shooters to be on every single game. Losing one reduces our odds in that regard (but, really, it kills us because Ross has been a nobody in the last month and a half). Suggs was starting for us, he was coming into his own, and he was shooting lights out. Not only have we lost a starter, but we’ve pushed our primary bench shooting threat into the starting five, making us weaker as a result. Yes, Wilcox has been doing his damnedest on both ends of the court, but it might be catching up with him. After his lackluster game against Seattle U, he followed with a 1 for 6 (1 for 4) shooting night tonight against the Cougs.
I don’t think I’m overreacting in the slightest; it HAS gone wrong for the Huskies. This game is the final nail in the 2010-2011 Washington Huskies. We have but 1 quality win (against a team that was underachieving when we played them originally), we have 5 REALLY bad losses (WSU twice, OU, OSU, Stanford), AND now we can’t even fall back on being undefeated at home. Incoming, we have the red-hot Bruins and a USC team on a 4-game winning streak (including a win over the Wildcats, snapping THEIR 8-game winning streak). If we don’t win both of these games, stick a fork in us. Not only will we be officially on the bubble, but we’ll need to win the whole fuckin’ Pac-10 Tournament or else we WILL be among the first four out. With no wins against quality opponents, with us being a part of a down Pac-10, and with us finishing the season like a turd splashing in the bowl, there’s no reason whatsoever for us to expect the committee to give us a spot over a more-deserving team from a better conference.
It’s game time for our season. And here we are with nobody to lead us to the promised land.