The Huskies’ first-round defeat to the Arizona Wildcats (77 to 70) in the Pac-12 Tournament was pretty much an exact replica of how their season went as a whole. The Dawgs started off the game pretty hot in the opening minutes, fell COMPLETELY apart during a long, saggy middle portion, tried to make a furious comeback at the end, and even though we all knew there were simply too many points to overcome, we couldn’t help but buy in at least a LITTLE bit that they’d shock the world and move on to the next round.
Also, Quade Green represents the coronavirus, but that’s neither here nor there.
This was a bad, disappointing end to a bad, disappointing season. As a Husky fan, it’s frustrating, because it feels like our timing is ALWAYS just a little bit off. We bring in these incredible Freshmen classes just as a bunch of upper classmen depart for the pros, so there’s no one the young guys can learn from or lean on when games get tight. Like when a game is starting to pull away early in the second half (Arizona had a 5-point lead at the break, only to see it balloon to a 15-point lead less than ten minutes later) and you need someone to stop the bleeding. Or, of course, the Huskies’ biggest Achilles’ heel: at the end of games, when it’s close, and you just need someone to create a shot out of nothing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this team DESPERATELY needed Jaylen Nowell.
This was a particularly tough one, because it was Isaiah Stewart’s final game, and BOY did he go out with a bang! 29 points were a career high, and obviously led all scorers in this game. He was 9/11 from the field (including 1/1 from long range) and 10/11 from the free throw line, which for a big man is just outstanding. In the first half, I think he scored all but maybe 8 or 10 of our points? Some insane percentage, to single-handedly keep us in the game. Obviously, since he had to do everything, he got into some foul trouble in the second half, but it also looked like the offense went away from him for some reason, even though it was clear everyone else on the Huskies was playing like trash! Stewart didn’t score again in the second half until WAY later than it should’ve been, and that’s ultimately a major reason why we lost.
It’s sad. I said it on Twitter already, but Isaiah Stewart is HANDS DOWN the best one-and-done player the Huskies have ever had since I’ve been following this team. Most likely he’s the best we’ve ever had PERIOD (exclamation point)! He’s a generational talent (for a college program) and we thoroughly squandered his lone season.
The rest of the guys who end up leaving, I won’t mind as much. But, having Stewart and not seeing the NCAA Tournament is a crime against (basketball) humanity!
By the way, I’m writing this assuming there actually WILL BE an NCAA Tournament, but of course who knows at this point?
I’m going to say the goat of this one (not G.O.A.T., but the standard definition of “the guy who sucked the hardest”) was Naz Carter. I wrote about this yesterday: I wasn’t worried about Stewart, he was always going to do his thing; but we needed someone else to step up and hit some big shots. I thought the Huskies had as good a chance as anyone because That Guy could be any number of players. It turns out, That Guy didn’t exist on this team. Naz Carter – bless his heart – tried his best, but he couldn’t get ANYTHING going and it ultimately killed our chances in this one. 1/9 shooting (0/5 from long range) for a whopping 2 points. That’s not what you need from your most prominent upper classman and third-leading scorer.
Jaden McDaniels, closing the season coming off the bench, didn’t provide much of a boost either until it was too late (a microcosm of his season as well), finishing with 10 points in 31 minutes. Again, NOT really enough from your second-leading scorer. Part of me would LOVE for him to come back, rededicate himself, and prove to everyone why he was a consensus one-and-done type of guy; but part of me also never wants to think about him ever again. Call me a squirrel running in my back yard because I’m on the fence!
All the rest of the role players get another year older and hopefully a year less mediocre.
I really can’t wait to flush this season and move on with my life. What a damn waste! I weirdly have more confidence about NEXT year, but maybe that’s totally misguided.