Now we know how spoiled we were as Husky fans these last few years. You are able to do so much more, you’re able to get AWAY with so much more, when you have a true lockdown defender on your team. You could argue the Huskies have had three in recent years, with IT, Overton, and Justin Holiday. When the Huskies were up by three with 10 seconds in the game, you could put any of those three guys on the other team’s best shooter and force them into their second or even third-best option.
That’s what a Jorge Gutierrez can do for you. THAT is ultimately why the Huskies lost yesterday.
In my previous Husky post, I thought the notion of Wilcox going down would be of great help to a guy like Terrence Ross. Maybe it would pull him out of his shell, force him to assert his offensive game a little more. What that argument fails to recognize is: Wilcox going down makes Terrence Ross not just our best option, but arguably our ONLY option.
And, when you’re down by three, and your only option is a long ball by one guy on the floor, that’s where a lockdown defender like Gutierrez takes the game over and ultimately wins it for your team.
I’m not going to snap and lose my shit over Darnell Gant’s performance yesterday. He had an off night, that’s it. Gant has had many more great nights where he’s filled up the stat sheet with lethal, weapons-grade productivity. I’m also not going to dismiss Romar’s call to give the ball to his senior forward in the closing seconds for two reasons:
- As I’ve been saying throughout this post, there was no way Gutierrez was going to allow Ross to touch the ball in that scenario. That’s a no-brainer on par with walking Barry Bonds at the height of his steroids-abusing power. Allegedly.
- Gant has proven he can hit that shot.
That second argument is a little harder to defend, but let’s look at it. There’s no doubt the kid has been working on his long ball the past two years. He doesn’t shoot it often from long range, but when he does he hits them with a good-enough regularity to consider him dependable in that situation. Yeah, he was 0 for 8, but just because you flip a coin and it lands on Tails 8 times in a row is no kind of indicator that it’ll be Tails on that 9th flip. At some point – and this is what I love most abour Romar – you have to put a player into a clutch situation to see what he’s made of. Having that kind of confidence in your player – even when he’s 0 for 8 up to that point – is why players love playing for a guy like Romar.
And, look at it this way: who else would you have trusted in that position? Abdul Gaddy? Not hardly. Tony Wroten? Not when you’re down three. Desmond Simmons? Please.
Which is why, ultimately, not having Wilcox out there was a terrible thing. It would’ve been far more likely that we would have won these past two games with a healthy Wilcox. I can’t say for certain in that Wazzu game, but I know without a doubt we would’ve beaten Cal yesterday. At the very least, he could’ve given our guards more of a break than they got! All three of our guards played 36 minutes or more! We essentially had a 6-man rotation yesterday!
The sooner Wilcox can come back, the better. I hereby repent! We need you, Wilcox!
If we somehow find a way to beat the Cardinal tomorrow, I’ll have a reasonable amount of hope for winning the Pac-12 this season. If we lose, I’ll be back on here dismissing the rest of the regular season and looking forward to the Pac-12 Tournament. Shaky times in Montlake this week. We’ll find out what we’re made of tomorrow afternoon.