Great game last night. One thing you can’t say about the NCAA Tournament: you rarely ever get a real live home game for your team.
There are a couple of arguments at play. #1 – Would I rather the Huskies be in the NCAA Tournament? Well, yeah, of course! I would rather the Huskies win the whole fucking thing and make my dreams come true! But, that’s neither here nor there, because this team couldn’t even beat Oregon State on a neutral floor.
Which leads us to Argument #2 – Am I excited about the opportunity to win the N.I.T.?
Look, I just think it’s awesome that the Huskies are still playing, in a single-elimination tournament, against teams that are roughly as good as we are (or, at least, can be). I got to go to two of these games, because the Huskies are a #1 seed, and I would’ve been to a third except my birthday fell awfully close to last Friday’s game and I was out of town. I’ve already been to more N.I.T. games than I have regular season games this season! That should say SOMETHING about my excitement level.
Last Tuesday was fun because it was something different, because there was practically nobody in attendance, and because I was able to get really fucking awesome seats for the price of a song. Yesterday was just as fun (in spite of having significantly worse seats) because of the electric atmosphere and, more importantly, the opponent.
Who DOESN’T love beating the shit out of Oregon? Yeah, a 4-point win might not be “beating the shit” out of anyone, but fuck it. And fuck Oregon! The Oregon Ducks can eat my ass burgers!
And did I mention that yesterday’s was one whale of a game? Because it was! I don’t think either team had more than a 10-point lead. The Dawgs would go on a roll, the Ducks would bounce back. The Ducks would go on a roll, the Dawgs ditto. We make some stops and get the crowd into it, they hit a dagger three-pointer or have their big man sink a crazy hook shot in traffic.
Terrence Ross led the way, making it that much more difficult to see him go this offseason. He had 24 points on 50% shooting from the field. Tony Wroten chipped in 22, with 10 coming at the line (side note: the Oregon Duck fan I happened to be sitting next to kept muttering insults under his breath whenever Wroten did something bad; funny, didn’t hear much out of the guy when Wroten was leading the parade to the free throw line in the second half). C.J. Wilcox was as cold as cold can be in the first half (3 points, with terrible shooting), but he made up for it in the second half to finish with 17 points (including his final 6 at the line at the very end of the game when things were still in doubt).
The players of the game on the defensive end were probably a combination of Wilcox and Darnell Gant. The Ducks’ big men were pretty strong in the paint (especially when N’Diaye was out with foul trouble), but it was E.J. Singler who was single-handedly destroying us in the first half. He had either 16 or 17 points at halftime, but after that, we shut him down with a combination of Wilcox and Gant (I know for a fact he never scored when Gant was blanketing him) to the tune of 2 or 3 points in the second period. That was the ballgame right there; if we didn’t figure out a way to slow down Singler, we would’ve lost that game, no question about it.
Interesting rotation last night, as well. A whole lot of 4-guard lineup (with Gaddy, Wilcox, Wroten & Ross) with either Gant or Seferian-Jenkins (who played 15 minutes in N’Diaye’s absence). No Shawn Kemp Jr. and only a token 5 minutes out of Desmond Simmons; I guess Romar really wanted that physicality that only ASJ can bring (when N’Diaye isn’t around, that is). Of course, against the Ducks (who aren’t a particularly tall group), that’s acceptable, and in the end is what it took to beat them.
So, the Huskies are in the Final Four. How about that? We play the winner of the Minnesota/Middle Tennessee game. Can’t say as I’m exactly quaking in my boots over either of those teams (but we’ve lost to worse this year). The Final looks a bit more advanced, as it’ll be either UMass, Stanford, or Nevada.
Finally, can I just say how proud I am of the fans who filled Hec-Ed last night? They booed those Oregon Ducks cheerleaders something FIERCE whenever they got on the court (don’t ask me why they were involved in the festivities when it was a Husky home game; I blame the National Invitation Tournament).