It’s been a long, depressing fucking road for the 2019/2020 Husky basketball team. A team that started out so promisingly – giving the #5 Baylor Bears one of their four regular season defeats – with a 10-3 non-conference slate, before ending up 15-16 overall. That 5-13 record in Pac-12 play was good for last place, in spite of our 2-game winning streak to close things out down in Arizona.
It’s unclear if that was a random blip of competence in an otherwise lost season, or if that’s a sign of better things on the horizon (the Dawgs won 3 of their final 4 games, for what that’s worth).
The only problem is: the horizon is here! Later today, the Huskies play 5-seeded Arizona – in a re-match of last Saturday’s victory – down in Vegas, in front of what I’m sure will be a HEAVILY-partisan Wildcats crowd (in essence, just another road game, only in what will presumably be a 2/3-empty arena).
It’s been clear for quite some time that the Huskies would need to win the Pac-12 Tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament; nothing else is on the table, not the N.I.T. nor the C.B.I. (if that’s still a thing). The Huskies will need to win 4 games in 4 days to advance as one of the most improbable Tourney teams of all time (from a major-conference perspective, at least).
What we’ve got going for us is the fact that we’re probably one of the most dangerous (if not THE most dangerous) last-place major-conference team to ever enter their conference’s tournament. I refuse to go back and check, but I think the Dawgs were either winning or within close striking distance in every conference game they played. A lot of those losses were within 5 points at the end; and two of our victories were by 30+ points!
The talent is here! We just haven’t been able to close out games, due to poor shooting, miscues, or general boneheadedness. Did we figure it out in the last weekend? We’ll find out.
What also gives me confidence is that the Pac-12 isn’t special. It’s VASTLY improved over recent seasons – with Oregon leading the way, the L.A. schools being relevant, and the Arizona schools being above-average – but the Huskies could beat any of those teams on any court on any given day.
It’s a bold strategy (Cotton) to completely fuck around for half a season only to finally turn it on in the final two weeks; let’s see if it pays off for ’em!
Another feather in the Husky cap is the fact that our offense isn’t reliant on any one guy. Isaiah Stewart is as close as it gets, but he’s constantly seeing double-teams and is a man among boys. However, he’s never been able to lift this team on his back in crunch time anyway, so I don’t think he really counts. He’ll get his when we need him; but someone else will have to step up if we’re gonna do this thing. That “someone else” could be any of five or six guys, so if someone’s cold, then move it on to the next guy, and just hope and pray that something sticks.
The point is: I like our chances as much as I like anyone else’s. That obviously doesn’t mean I think it’s LIKELY that the Huskies win out; I wouldn’t go mortgaging the Taylor Family Farm on this deal working. MAYBE a couple hundred bucks, if the odds were right, and see if I can’t come out way ahead.
Today, we play Arizona. Win that one, and we play USC (one of those teams we beat by 30+ earlier in the season). Win that one, and we play Oregon (most likely; who we lost to by only 3 points). Win THAT one, and it’s most likely either UCLA or ASU (we’re a combined 1-3, but again, were in every game).
So, improbable, but not impossible. I’ve been on this train for a while now, sticking my neck out: the Huskies WILL be the first team from a major conference to be in last place through the entire regular season, only to win their conference tournament and earn a berth into the NCAA Tourney!
And tomorrow, when I’m wrong, I’ll get to tell you I was just kidding, y’all!!! FUNNY JOKES BY STEVEN A. TAYLOR!!! Hilarious Seattle Sports Blogger Extraordinaire!