The Huskies went 17-15 (9-9 in conference) and lost in the opening game of the Pac-12 Tournament to the Utah Utes. In that game, the Huskies were down double digits early, made a heroic second half run to take a brief lead, and with less than a minute to go, with the game tied, gave up a go-ahead three-pointer that proved to be the game-winner.
Quality wins arrived in the form of a shocking upset on the road against Arizona State, and home wins against Colorado and Oregon. That’s it! So don’t piss down my leg and tell me it’s raining, because this team stunk!
If you thought this team deserved an N.I.T. bid, you’re a fool. Just playing in a major conference, and being one of its worst three teams, doesn’t automatically garner you any consideration, even if it comes from a lesser field of teams. Truth be told, I don’t think the Huskies were among the top 100 teams. Ostensibly, if they were, then they should roll through the C.B.I. (which they either weren’t invited to, or turned down), but I can all but guarantee the Huskies would certainly lose in the first or second round of the C.B.I.
This team had two guys: C.J. Wilcox and Nigel Williams-Goss. Wilcox averaged 18 points and shot 39% from three-point land. He was so clearly our number one offensive threat that each and every game he had to contend with the other team’s best defender (or some rolling coverage his direction). He was still able to put up some impressive numbers, but we didn’t really have anyone else to take up some of the scoring load, so we ended up struggling to score far too often. Combine that with lackluster defensive effort, and you’ve got yourself just a so-so team.
I wouldn’t call NWG elite, but he was great for what he was: a true freshman. 13 points, 4 boards, 4 assists, 3 turnovers … those are solid true freshman point guard numbers. You’d like to see a few more assists (or a couple fewer turnovers), but there wasn’t anybody else aside from Wilcox on this team who could hit a shot, so that’s not really his fault is it? Plus, you figure other teams’ entire game plans revolved around denying Wilcox the ball … you do the math.
After that, we had two just kinda sorta okay guys in Andrew Andrews and Perris Blackwell. Blackwell was on his last year of eligibility after transferring to UW, and he averaged 10 points and 7 boards a game. On a good team, those numbers are Brockman-esque! He was a grinder down low. The offense didn’t run through him (nor should it have), but he found a way to be effective as the only big man this team could count on. Desmond Simmons started off the year injured and never really made an impact once he returned. His jumper was always off and he seemed to be in a lot of foul trouble (or just get lost in the flow of the game) far too often. And the less said about Shawn Kemp Jr., the better. He was a walking personal foul waiting for the ball to be put in play so he could slap at someone and make his way back towards the bench. And the two other newcomers – Darin Johnson & Mike Anderson – showed flashes of potential, but again, I don’t think they’re ever going to carry the burden of the scoring load.
This team needs guys who can score, bottom line. We’re losing a quarter of our scoring in one guy, with Wilcox going into the NBA draft. When you add in Blackwell (also leaving the ranks of college basketball), we’re losing damn near 40% of our scoring. In two guys!
NWG should obviously take a big step forward next season, since he’ll be The Man in only his second year. But, that’s assuming he decides to stick around. Who knows; maybe he hears something he likes and decides to take his chances in the draft. Lost in this whole season of losing has been concern over NWG being a one-and-done kid. I’m getting the feeling that everyone around this program just assumes he’s going to be around forever, but let’s not forget how highly rated he was out of high school. Let’s also not forget that his freshman year was pretty damn impressive when you consider how bad this team really was. I think he could use at least another year’s seasoning, but I ALWAYS think that, and I’m almost always proven wrong. Hell, even Tony Wroten is making me look the fool by being a better shooter than I could have ever thought possible!
The fact of the matter is, college basketball needs to get rid of the one-and-done rule. It’s a complete farce! It only rewards the teams that are going to be good anyway. If you know you’re going into the NBA after your first year of college, wouldn’t you want to just go to the best teams, have some fun winning a bunch of basketball games, and see yourself on highlight shows during the NCAA Tournament? You’re not going to be too likely to go to a school like Washington when there’s a school like Louisville out there ready to reload for another Final Four run.
Without the one-and-done rule, Romar wouldn’t have to spend so much time and energy on one-and-done players. He could go back to recruiting his types of guys. Guys who may be a little rough, but over the course of their four years here, they’ll improve to the point where we’re always playing at a high level whenever we’ve got a new batch of seniors.
The one-and-done rule is tainting the game of college basketball. Yes, I’m sure the NCAA likes seeing the very best players going at it when they can showcase them during March Madness, but nobody’s going to remember these guys in 20 years when all of them leave after a single year and become stars in The League.
I dunno. I’m just frustrated, I guess. I still think Romar is the guy for this team, but I also think I’m in the minority. I fear we’re in for some heavy changes and I just don’t know if I’m up for it right now.