I’m telling you, this is a fun team to watch! I still don’t know if they’re any good – they’ve certainly got their flaws, particularly on offense – but more often than not, they’ll give you an entertaining couple of hours when they’re playing.
The problem with that is, if you lean towards the Huskies being a good basketball team, then you have to admit they’ve been playing down to the level of their opponents consistently. Last night, for instance, they were on the road playing the Oregon State Beavers. The Huskies improved to 4-2 in conference with their 82-72 victory, while the Beavs fell to 1-6. A 10-point victory on the road is nothing to sneeze at, but the game was super close throughout; it was still a 5-point game with two minutes to go, before a Husky three-pointer with 80 seconds remaining shut the door. If he would’ve missed that shot, there’s a good chance the Beavers could’ve completed the comeback.
The point is, the Beavers aren’t good. The Stanford Cardinal – who we beat at home last week – is 3-3, and we won that game by only 3 points. The Cal Bears are 2-5 (we beat them last week as well). And the Utes – who we beat on the road – are the worst team in the conference at 1-8. The team we lost to in that span – Colorado Buffaloes – are 4-3, and look to be pretty solid. We weren’t even competitive in that loss.
I don’t want to be too down on the Dawgs, because there’s a lot of good about this team. The defense has been flat-out dominant at times, and is regularly pretty good. If we had any consistent offense besides Terrell Brown (who continues to crush it at both ends of the court), we’d be among the best teams in the conference.
But, I’ll say this about the offense: it’s getting better. Little by little. Guys are starting to hit a higher percentage of 3-point shots, they’re VASTLY improved at moving without the basketball and generating assists, and they’ve always been pretty consistent at initiating fast breaks, drawing fouls, and getting to the free throw line.
It’s what you want to see. You want to see a team get better as the season goes along. As it stands now, the Huskies’ resume very definitively lacks any impressive victories that might propel them into the March Madness discussion. But, there are still enough conference games left on the schedule to make some noise. I ultimately don’t believe we’ll be good enough to go on the kind of run that would be required of us to make it to the Big Dance, but if we keep chipping away and winning the games we’re supposed to win, and finish inside the top five or six in the Pac-12, that should be good enough to get us into the N.I.T. It’s nothing spectacular, but I’ll take it after the last couple of underwhelming seasons.
Getting back to last night’s game, what a blast! Brown led the way with 27 points. Emmitt Matthews had 16, Jamal Bey had 10, P.J. Fuller had 11 off the bench. Daejon Davis had a limited scoring night, but added 7 assists, 2 steals, and a block to fill up the stat sheet. Most everyone you’d expect contributed, which is the way this team is going to succeed. They need guys to continue stepping up around the stars on this team; it HAS to be a full team effort if we’re going to win enough to get where we want to go.
The game on Sunday against Oregon will be pretty huge. Road victories are as hard as they come, but they’re going to be necessary given the hole we’re in. A 9-7 overall record is pretty sorry. But, everything is still in front of us when it comes to the Pac-12 slate. We control our destiny; that’s all you can really ask for at this point in the season.