Husky Basketball Can Beat The Bad Teams

There’s no doubt about it: the Husky basketball team is vastly improved over where it was at the beginning of the season. That’s one of those encouraging things you like to see in college basketball, because it shows the coaching staff knows what it’s doing. It shows they can get the best out of their guys and mold them into better players. It’s unfortunate when you start in such a huge hole – like the Huskies were in this season – because you know no matter how good things are going at the end, the damage has already been done.

Just based on eye test, I don’t know if the Huskies have a single impressive victory, at least in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament Committee. That could change as over the next couple weeks we play four games against ranked opponents, but even showing up in those games and maybe winning one or two won’t be enough. We’re in a situation where the Huskies will need to win the Pac-12 Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament, even if we won out in the regular season.

The Huskies won’t do that, of course, because this is still a flawed team. But, that doesn’t mean this team isn’t fun or entertaining to watch.

The Huskies beat up on the Arizona State Sun Devils last night, 87-64. That was one of those games where pretty much everything went right. We shot 48% from the field (43% from 3-point range), we dished out 16 assists (a byproduct of making so many shots), we had 10 steals and 3 blocks as a team, forcing 14 turnovers, and we held them to under 40% from the field (under 23% from 3-point range). We even managed to out-rebound them!

Brown, Fuller, and Matthews all got into the action with great scoring games, but Bey, Roberts, and even Riley Sorn contributed. I don’t want to get into all the stat lines, go check out the box score.

That might be the best we’ve ever seen the Huskies play this year. It’s unfortunate that kind of performance was wasted on a Sun Devils team having a very down year. They’re not good; how that team beat a Top 10 UCLA team is mystifying to me.

The real challenge comes tomorrow when we play the Arizona Wildcats. They’re 21-2 and their two losses were against a couple of very good ranked teams on the road. The Wildcats might be one of the most complete teams in all of college basketball, and not for nothing, but they previously beat our asses by 16, just before we were able to turn our season around.

The story of the conference portion of our schedule has had to do with the fact that – by and large – we’ve beaten the bad teams we’re supposed to beat, but haven’t gotten over the hump against the good ones. Our four Pac-12 losses came against Arizona, Colorado (always a tough team to play on the road), Oregon (in probably our worst game of the year), and Stanford (where our defense failed us, also on the road).

Conversely, probably the best team we’ve beaten is Stanford, who are right on the edge of good/bad with a .500 conference record. On the one hand, I guess it’s better to play all the good teams at the end – since that’s when we’re playing our best ball – but on the other hand, it could be a grim finish to the season, which might wipe away all the good vibes that have been built up in this turn-around.

We’ll see how it goes. HUGE game tomorrow, though. I hope the team shows up and plays well.

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