I’m More Excited About Husky Basketball Than I Can Remember Ever Being Before

I mean, there’s seriously no limit to how good this team can be. At the same time, a lack of experience could be their downfall. But, if nothing else, I’m expecting this team to improve as the season goes along, peaking just as we get to the NCAA Tournament.

And, make no mistake, barring a rash of key injuries, this team WILL make the NCAA Tournament, and probably advance pretty far to boot.

It’s really an embarrassment of riches with this squad. We could be up to ten men deep in the regular rotation, and that’s before Quade Green is allowed to start playing in January (hopefully)! While it’s reported we’ll be a little thin at point guard until he shows up, I’m not too worried about that. Mostly because this is the biggest Husky team I can recall in the last two decades.

Sam Timmins and Hameir Wright – two players with pretty extensive starting experience for past Husky teams – are likely to be role players (not for nothing, but if I never saw Timmins again except for garbage minutes, I think I’d be more than fine). Ahead of them on the depth chart, we’ve got 5-star Freshmen in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels who figure to get the bulk of the play at the 4 & 5 spots. Then, there’s Nate Roberts who can also slide in there as a 3 or 4, if we wanted to go with a jumbo lineup. When you factor in Bryan Penn-Johnson as one of the few true centers on this team, there are almost too many giants to go around!

My hunch is that our primary five will include Stewart & McDaniels up front, with Naz Carter and Jamal Bey in the backcourt, with either RaeQuan Battle in there (for more outside shooting) or Elijah Hardy (for more ball handling). Then, you can bring in Roberts if you need rebounding and defensive help (he’s also someone who can handle the ball a little bit), or bring in the jumbo package to really lean on opposing teams.

You could easily make the argument that the Huskies were undersized heading into the Tourney last year; you won’t be able to say that in March 2020.

The big question I have as we head into the season is: who’s responsible for scoring buckets late in our one-possession games with the clock winding down and it’s essentially 1 on 1 with everything on the line? My hunch is that Naz Carter – the de facto upper classman of the group, all apologies to Timmins – takes on that role. Either that, or we dump it into the big man (likely Stewart) down in the post and let him go to work, to either get in the lane for a score/foul, or kick it out to a shooter.

The other thing I’ll be looking for as the season kicks off on November 8th is: who are our outside shooters? As I noted above, Battle appears to be the best shooter on the team, but do we have anyone else? Can Carter improve from his 31% shooting last year from 3-point range? Bey was 4/10 last year from deep; is that something he’s worked on in the offseason? I remember Wright getting more confident from long distance as last season went on; will he be a sparkplug off the bench to get us going?

I don’t see a lot of holes, is my point. The obvious question everyone has is how roles will be defined. We lost a lot of our production to graduation and/or the NBA over the offseason. Thybulle, Nowell, Dickerson, and Crisp (and Green to a lesser extent) were the whole identity of last year’s squad; hence the reason why the Huskies are 26th in the pre-season Top 25 Rankings (and not a lot higher, like they will be before too long).

But, that’s what I find so thrilling. We have potential Top 10 talent in a team that’s kinda being overlooked at this point. The possibilities are limitless because we really don’t know a whole lot about this team, other than there are a bunch of REALLY good high school players on the roster (including a couple of highly-probable one-and-doners).

Now, of course, the downside of having a couple of one-and-doners is that if they get injured – regardless of severity – we might lose them to preparation for the NBA Draft. Those are the chances you take when you roll those dice, but the upside is you maybe getting to the Final Four, and for as much as I hate the one-and-done rule, I’ll take those chances whenever I can get ’em.

There have been plenty of highly successful NCAA basketball teams with the type of inexperience we have. All you gotta do, really, is get hot at the right time. Because the talent is there! This team is overflowing with talent. They’ve also got the head coach in Mike Hopkins to get the most out of that talent. He’s a rising superstar in college basketball coaching circles, and I for one hope to take advantage of his gifts while he’s still here. It won’t be long before the highest profile college programs come to poach him away. Hopefully, we’ll get to enjoy some unprecedented success before that time comes.

Jaylen Nowell Is Going Pro

Since we can’t have really, really nice things, Jaylen Nowell announced he’s going to leave the University of Washington to enter the NBA Draft.

In thinking about what might’ve been, having Nowell around for his Junior season would’ve been absolutely amazing. As we all know, Noah Dickerson, David Crisp, Matisse Thybulle, and Dominic Green were all Seniors and will all be gone next season. That leaves just Naz Carter, Hameir Wright, Sam Timmins, and Jamal Bey left over of the players who didn’t redshirt and who played significant minutes.

That’s just a lot of overall production that’s leaving the team. And, yes, there are some holdovers whose roles will naturally expand. You figure Bryan Penn-Johnson will vie for a starting spot at one of the bigs. Nate Roberts could see some time at the wing. And Elijah Hardy should get some time at the point. But, it would’ve been nice to have Nowell around to help with the transition.

There’s also, obviously, some incoming guys who figure to play right away, including RaeQuan Battle and Isaiah Stewart; with Quade Green transferring from Kentucky to run the point when we hit conference play. But, without many real veteran holdovers, there’s going to be a lot of unknown with the 2019/2020 squad.

Without knowing anything about the redshirts or recruits, I figure this becomes Naz Carter’s team. He’s had two years in the system now and has shown steady improvement both years, at both ends of the floor. I’ll also be looking for big things out of Jamal Bey, who was really the only Freshman to see the floor this past season, and appeared to get better as the season went along.

Given the pedigree of the guys on the roster, I would once again expect the Huskies to contend for a Pac-12 championship and make the NCAA Tournament. But, you never know when there’s this much turnover. It would’ve been a much safer bet if Nowell had stayed for one more year.

I’m on the record as highly doubting Nowell will be a first round pick, but what do I know? I’m no scout. I don’t even really watch the NBA anymore. It just seems to me that he had more he could’ve improved in his game had he stayed. On the flipside, he was already Pac-12 Player of the Year, so how much more did he have to prove?

If we base it on the college career of Isaiah Thomas – who was the final pick in the second round the year he went out – then based on probably his size alone I think Nowell at least gets drafted somewhere in the second round. But, I dunno. I respectfully disagree with the decision, but I also don’t know all the facts surrounding his financial situation. For a kid making no money for his talents in college, I can certainly understand the desire to go out and start earning a living.

The Huskies Advanced In The Pac-12 Tournament For The First Time Ever

That feels accurate; I’m not changing it.

I was – as I noted on Twitter yesterday – extremely nervous about the Huskies’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team (thanks for fucking nothing, Gonzaga) had they lost in the quarterfinals to USC yesterday. It just felt like, with the way things were trending (that would’ve been 3 losses in our final 5 games, all to just awful teams), combined with the many upsets in various conference tournaments across the college basketball landscape, that this would’ve been the second time in school history where the Huskies were regular season conference champs who failed to make the Big Dance.

I mean, how snakebit could one school be?

As it is, I don’t know if we’re QUITE out of the woods just yet, but I do feel like it’s tough to keep a 25-win team out of it, regardless of how terrible their conference is.

The next hurdle is to make sure we’re not one of the four play-in teams. The last thing I want is for the Huskies to play next Tuesday! But, that’s getting ahead of things.

The good news is, the Dawgs beat the University of Spoiled Children (I don’t know how I lived my entire life until yesterday having never heard that phrase before, but I LOVE IT!) Pretty bad week for the Trojans, all things considered, and this was the cherry on top.

Noah Dickerson had as bad of a game as you could have (1/7, 2 points), but he chipped in with 11 boards and I fully expect him to bounce back in a BIG way tonight. The fact that the Huskies were able to score 78 in this one essentially without him is pretty remarkable!

Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaylen Nowell led the way with 24 points and 8 boards, as he showed why he’s our go-to guy. Pac-12 Snub of the Year David Crisp chipped in 18 and 6 assists, as he set the tone with 3/6 from behind the arc (the team hit 13/28 overall, and was particularly hot in the first half).

Across the board, we had guys having big moments. Naz Carter dropped 13 and 4 boards; Dom Green added 9 and 3 assists; and Hameir Wright exploded early with 8 points (including 2/4 from behind the arc to get things going in the opening minutes).

Not to be left out, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybulle had 5 more steals to take sole possession of the most steals in a season in Pac-12 history! And, if the Internet is correct, that brings him to 320 career steals, which is 1 behind Gary Payton for the most in Pac-12 history, SO WATCH OUT TONIGHT!

This was a game full of streaks, which meant it was tight at the finish. Fortunately, we hit just enough shots and made just enough plays to grab a 3-point victory.

Colorado took care of business against Oregon State, so we dodged one bullet, as we set up to face the Buffaloes at 6pm tonight. On the other side of the bracket, Oregon will take on ASU. The Sun Devils are still on the bubble – many have them playing as an 11-seed in one of those play-in games – so beating the Ducks would be very much in their best interest. Oregon likely needs to win the Pac-12 Tournament to get in, and with the way they’ve been going lately (6 game winning streak), it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest.

To be fair, the Buffaloes are on a 5-game winning streak of their own, but they definitely shouldn’t win tonight. I wouldn’t say I’m confident, but I saw that next up in my rotation were the maroon boxers, and instead of picking a different pair, I’m wearing them right this second. Either we break the curse tonight, or I single-handedly send the Huskies to the N.I.T.

Perfect Huskies Finish Perfect January Perfectly

The Washington Huskies men’s basketball team is on a 10-game winning streak! We’re 8-0 in Pac-12 play! We just beat the Trojans by 13 points to maintain our undefeated status at home! We have to be one more win this weekend from FINALLY re-cracking the Top 25!

I’ll admit, I was a little worried about last night’s game. I mean, let’s face it, a loss is coming. We’re not going 18-0 in conference play; it’s just not happening. And, with how talented the Trojans are, I thought, “Who’s better than them?” With the way they’ve played of late, it seemed like a sneaky trap game.

But, the truth of the matter is, I don’t think ANYONE in the Pac-12 is good enough to straight up beat the Huskies when we’re playing our best. The only team that can beat us IS us (that’s what the new Jordan Peele movie is about, right?).

This is the Husky team we’ve been waiting for these last four years. We’ve been waiting for these veteran players to grow up and show some consistency. One game, they’d be lights out, then the next game they’d be falling all over themselves to give the game away. If you took this team from two years ago and transplanted it in our timeline, the Dawgs would probably be somewhere around 4-4 right now, with no dreams whatsoever of contending for a Tourney berth.

Now, we’re getting to the point where the Huskies don’t even NEED their best game to beat other teams. Last night, the Huskies turned the ball over a whopping 19 times. Jaylen Nowell had one of his worst games ever in that category, with 7. Lots of carelessness, lots of risky down-court passes, lots of low-percentage plays. However, we were able to generate 17 steals to counter that (USC had 18 turnovers total) and 4 blocks. That, on top of a sound rebounding night (40 to 28) and our usual brand of quality perimeter defense (holding the Trojans to 5/16 from beyond the arc) was more than enough to carry the day.

Noah Dickerson was the star of the show, after largely taking a backseat through conference play to date. He finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 7/10 from the field and 7/10 from the free throw line. We finally ran into a team that didn’t exclusively double-team Dickerson every single time he touched the ball, and the Senior power forward made them pay. Every time the Huskies needed a bucket to stop the bleeding, Dickerson was there. Every time we needed a board to keep the Trojans from getting too many second-chance points, Dickerson was there. If this guy shows up on Saturday, we might be talking about back-to-back Huskies winning Player of the Week (Nowell won it last week).

Matisse Thybulle showed up as he usually does (7 steals, 6 boards, 2 blocks, 2 assists), but he also showed up offensively with 17 points. His long-range shot isn’t quite back yet, but he scored in other ways (including 6/7 at the charity stripe).

Nowell was able to help out in other ways, so the 7 turnovers weren’t totally debilitating. He had 12 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, and 4 steals. And, not to be outshined, David Crisp finished with 15 points, 2 boards, 2 assists, and a steal. All in all, it was a great game for the upperclassmen.

There wasn’t much from our bench, but Naz Carter and Dominic Green had their moments. I feel like this is the type of game we’re bound to see as we approach Tourney time, with the leaders taking over.

It’s almost sad to see this month go. January has been very good to the Huskies this year. Let’s see how long we can keep it going.

The Husky Basketball Team Has Been Perfect In Pac-12 Play

We know it won’t stay that way, but it’s pretty good right now!

The Huskies are 4-0 in the Pac-12, with a game against the 0-5 Cal team tomorrow. So, things are trending in the right direction, it would seem.

The last time I wrote about the Huskies, it was over a month ago and the season wasn’t looking great. Indeed, we finished the non-conference part of the schedule with 4 losses against the 4 best teams we played. There isn’t a quality win in the bunch! But, to date – including conference play – there also isn’t really a bad loss either.

So, yeah, it’s gonna be one of THOSE years.

True to form, the Pac-12 has been a dumpster fire. The Huskies at 4-0 lead the pack. Arizona State – who had been so great early in the year – is 3-2 with losses to Utah and Stanford, a couple of mediocre programs right now. Arizona just lost its first game of the conference slate, at home to Oregon; time will tell if that’s forgivable or not, as the Ducks have already lost home games to the surprising Beavers and Bruins. Those same Bruins are 3-1, having lost to the Beavs, while the Beavs are 3-1, having lost to ASU.

Also true to form, the Pac-12 has been eating itself alive.

It’s cool that the Huskies are perfect, but it’s also only a matter of time. Sure, the Huskies could keep beating the teams they’re “supposed to beat”, but at this point I’m pretty sure they’re “supposed to beat” everyone in the Pac-12, because everyone in the Pac-12 stinks!

I guess the best part of this 4-0 start is that we’re not just eking out these games like we were for most of the non-conference schedule. We beat the Cougs at home by 18; we beat Utah on the road by 16; we beat Colorado on the road by 7; and yesterday we beat the Cardinal at home by 16. There have also been some interesting trends in these last couple weeks.

For starters, we’re not just riding Noah Dickerson into the ground like I thought we’d have to. He’s been under 10 points in 3/4, and under 5 points in 2/4. The fact that we’re averaging almost 80 points in those games means we’re getting help from a lot of different sources.

Jaylen Nowell had one dud in the bunch, but he otherwise looks like he’s taken a considerable step forward over his Freshman season. Much more assertive and willing to take over the game when it needs taking over. For far too often, the Huskies go in the tank offensively for long stretches of game. Lately, Nowell seems to have filled in those gaps a little bit, which is encouraging to see, because we’re going to need this when it’s do-or-die.

I have to admit, David Crisp has emerged of late. Yesterday was a poor shooting night, but the other three games he was on FIRE! Time will tell if that was just a streaky shooter on a rare hot streak, but if he ever figures out his jump shot, the Huskies could be truly dangerous.

Naz Carter has REALLY started to pick his game up as this team’s de facto sixth man off the bench. Sure, Dominic Green is another spark with his deep shooting, but Carter really does a lot of the dirty work, so it’s not all put on Nowell’s shoulders. Once these upperclassmen start clearing out, this is going to be Carter’s team, and he looks like he’ll be a sight to behold!

Hameir Wright hasn’t quite clicked with his shooting since being inserted into the starting lineup – to say nothing of the foul trouble he tends to find himself in – but I hope he keeps at it, because once those shots start dropping, he could be another difference-maker come Tourney-time.

After falling all over myself with the Mariners last year – locking them in as a playoff team in June – I won’t do the same here with the Huskies. But, it’s looking good so far. It’s still VERY early, and we’ve yet to even start the meat of the schedule. There’s a real murderer’s row coming up the next three weeks: at the Oregon schools, home for the L.A. schools, and at the Arizona schools. To be considered for an at large bid, we probably have to go no worse than 3-3 in those games.

Following that stretch, it eases up the rest of the way: the mountain schools at home, at the lousy Bay Area schools, then home for the Oregon schools again. Probably can’t be any worse than 5-1 in those games.

BUT, if we do exactly that – win tomorrow, go 3-3 in the tough part, and 5-1 down the stretch – well, there’s your 14-4 that everyone was talking about heading into Pac-12 play! Of course, at that point, with the way the conference is looking, will that even be enough wins?

I’ve said it all along: don’t discount the Pac-12 Tournament. Ideally, to really lock in our NCAA Tournament spot, we’d want to find ourself in the championship game at worst.

The Husky Basketball Team Won On A Dominant Half Of Play

The 25th-ranked Washington Huskies kicked off their season with a 73-55 win at home over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

It featured everything you come to expect from a Husky basketball team playing against an over-matched opponent:  struggling early, long stretches of scorelessness, sloppy play, lots of foul trouble, poor 3-point shooting, and about 20 minutes of competent (and sometimes dominant) basketball.  The fact that we were down 36-27 at halftime, only to come back and win by 18 is pretty impressive.  But, a lot of it wasn’t anything to write home about.

Given our early foul trouble, you would’ve thought that we’d see a bigger swath of involvement, but other than 3 minutes of mop-up duty by Bryan Penn-Johnson, it was the 8-man rotation we all expected heading into this season.  Obviously, we’ll see more from our deep bench as the season goes along (though, apparently not from Nate Roberts, who will be redshirting this year).

Dickerson led the way with 18 points, 6 boards and 3 blocks.  Jaylen Nowell had 17 points on 7/15 shooting.  Mr. Statsheet, Matisse Thybulle, had 9 points (on a woeful 3/10 shooting, including 1/6 from 3-point), with 6 boards, 6 blocks, and a steal.  David Crisp had 13 points on 4/12 (2/6 from three), with 7 assists, 3 boards and 2 steals.  Our bench crew (led by Dominic Green’s 6 points and 4 boards) chipped in with 12 points total; they will see better days ahead.

All in all, nothing to get too worked up about one way or the other.  The Huskies won, let’s leave it at that.

Next up on Friday is the game in Auburn.  Between the football and the basketball team flying across the country … is there ever a time the Tigers are gonna come up here?  I know the SEC rules the roost in football, but they’re pretty average in basketball, so maybe let’s not suck their dicks in every single sport.  On top of which, the game is being televised on the SEC Network, which I don’t get.  So, for a game I actually have an opportunity to watch live (because I don’t have to work the next day or otherwise get up super early), I’m gonna have to listen to the radio.  What a crock of shit.

The 25th-Ranked Husky Men’s Basketball Team Is Going To Make The NCAA Tournament In 2019

All the cool sports shit in Seattle right now is happening at the University of Washington.

Last year, the Husky Men’s Basketball team won 20 games in the regular season, went 10-8 in conference play, lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament to the Oregon State Beavers, and went 1-1 in the NIT, ultimately losing to Boise State.  It was a better first season for new head coach Mike Hopkins than anyone had any right to expect considering the circumstances, and ultimately it’s a nice jumping-off point for a team that should finally get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

First of all, it’s crazy how long it’s been.  It’ll be 8 years this March; that is far FAR too long between appearances.  Even if the Huskies literally have no chance of ever winning the national championship – because we’re not one of those elite teams and we never will be – it’s still nice to be tricked once in a while into believing.  It beats a constant stream of mediocrity and underperforming.

This year should be fun, even if the Pac-12 is as down as it always is.  We’ve got a road game against Auburn, a neutral-court game against Texas A&M, we continue our series against Gonzaga by playing them in their zoo of an arena, and for good measure we face another ranked team in Virginia Tech in a neutral location.  If nothing else, our strength of (non-conference) schedule looks to be one of the better ones in all of college basketball.  We’ll see how it all shakes out by the end of the season, but right now you can’t say the Huskies are loaded with cupcakes and only cupcakes!

I would also argue that it takes a team this laden with veteran talent to handle a schedule like that.  It’s the perfect storm, really, because we’ve got 4 Seniors who figure to play significant minutes, on top of stud Sophomore Jaylen Nowell, all of whom are in their second year in Hop’s program.  I don’t think a team loaded with youngsters could withstand this schedule, not if you’re teaching a bunch of new kids a brand new scheme.

Barring a slew of injuries, this team – led by Nowell, Noah Dickerson, Matisse Thybulle, David Crisp, and Dominic Green – should have no trouble handling the pressure that comes with increased expectations.  All of those guys can score (in a variety of ways) and defend with the best of ’em.  On top of which, we’ve got a number of quality role players to jump in there.  Sam Timmins, Junior Center, had a lot of important minutes last year and should only be more comfortable with his job as a starter playing reserve duty.  Hameir Wright and Nahziah Carter both flashed as Freshmen last year and figure to see increased time and responsibilities.  Already we’re talking about a team that’s 8-deep, and we haven’t even gotten to the rest of the guys on this team.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t know how reasonable it is to expect too much from the rest.  The roster does look like it’s in pretty good shape, both for this year and going forward.  There aren’t any glaring holes or weaknesses.  We’re 3-4 deep at big man, with Dickerson, Timmins, and Wright leading the way.  We’ve also got incoming Freshman Bryan Penn-Johnson who’s got a college-ready body right now; he’ll likely get his feet wet depending on matchups and foul issues with the other guys ahead of him on the depth chart.  We’ve got a team full of ‘tweeners with long arms, a team full of shooters; you could say we’re a little thin at point guard, but I’d argue any number of guys from Nowell to Thybulle to maybe even Green or Carter could handle the rock in a pinch.  The other Freshman I’d be looking at is Elijah Hardy, a 6’2 point guard who could very well push Crisp for minutes.

As always, I think this team goes as far as Crisp takes them.  The good news is, I thought he started to make some strides last year in transitioning from a shoot-first deep threat to a guy more comfortable driving in the paint and looking to make plays.  I thought his game against Nevada the other day was telling.  The Huskies went on the road and beat a consensus Top 10 team in a meaningless exhibition game, but we didn’t treat it as such.  Noah Dickerson sat out with an injury, but the other main guys all played over 30 minutes.  Sure, Crisp was 2 for 6 from long range (not a great percentage, but honestly an improvement over what he’s averaged so far in his college career), but he was 6 for 9 from inside the arc, which hopefully means he’s not just looking to jack crazy bombs all year long.

I’ll be most interested in seeing how the rotations are set up and how minutes are divided.  Assuming everyone’s healthy, you figure Dickerson, Thybulle, Nowell, and Crisp will all be starters and play starters’ minutes.  Timmins figures to be a starting center, with Wright coming in off the bench and besting him in total minutes.  You figure Green will be the 6th man – with occasional spot starts, depending on matchups – to give us a scoring boost off the bench.  And, Carter and the other youngsters will be wild cards.  These things are always fluid over the course of a long season, but assuming everything goes according to plan, it’s pretty easy to see how this team shakes out.

The big variable is how the Pac-12 looks.  It’s weird seeing a pre-season Top 25 rankings without Arizona listed.  I can’t imagine they’ll ever be bad, but they are young and all the legal allegations swirling around the program can’t be good for their focus.  UCLA and Oregon are both ranked, which feels right.  Figure the Bruins will be disappointing and the Ducks will be pretty solid.  Nevertheless, not having a huge Top 10 program in the Pac-12 would appear to be a benefit to a team like Washington, whose non-conference schedule figures to do the heavy lifting.  Being as veteran as we are, I wouldn’t anticipate this team needs a lot of time to gel, so we should come out of the gate pretty strong and ready to upset some of these better teams.

We play all the Pac-12 North teams twice each, so if Oregon remains good, that’s two more opportunities for important wins.  We also play the mountain schools twice; while never really all that impressive, they’re usually decent enough that if they rip off a bunch of wins, they could always sneak into the Top 25.  We play the Arizona schools on the road and the L.A. schools at home (in back-to-back weeks, no less) so take that for what it’s worth.

I’ll be massively upset and disappointed if the Huskies don’t make the NCAA Tournament this year.  Mike Hopkins is getting more out of these players than Romar ever did.  While that’s not necessarily enough to be concerned about losing Hop to bigger and better programs, it’s enough to put him on notice around the rest of college basketball.  The real test of how good of a coach he is will come after all these Seniors graduate and he’s starting from scratch with his own guys.  Luckily, we’re still a year away from that headache.  For now, we get to enjoy the fun new feeling of being relevant in Men’s Basketball again.  I missed this.

The Huskies Went 1-1 In The NIT

I was a little distracted by my trip to Reno for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, so I didn’t really get to see any of the Huskies in the NIT.  Scheduling issues, you know how it is.

Last Wednesday, while I was in an airplane, the Huskies hosted the Boise State Broncos and beat them 77-74 in double-overtime.  Nowell and Thybulle really dominated the show, as the team hit nearly 50% from behind the arc.  Sounded like quite the impressive game that I would’ve enjoyed a lot.

Then, last night, the Huskies went on the road to play top-seeded Saint Mary’s.  We put up a valiant effort, but fell short, 85-81.  Noah Dickerson was a monster, with 22 points and 9 boards, and Nahziah Carter went 4 for 4 from behind the arc in netting 14 total points off the bench.

This was a really fun season for Husky basketball; something I don’t think any of us really anticipated.  With Romar getting fired, a bunch of our recruits jumping ship, and Mike Hopkins coming across the country to try to bring this team together in a few short months, it would’ve been more reasonable to expect another bottoming-out type season.  Or, at best, hovering around .500 in non-conference play before falling off against the Pac-12 teams.  Thankfully, the Huskies gelled, were able to get some signature victories against the likes of Kansas and Arizona, and were helped by the Pac-12 being pretty fucking terrible as a whole.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot of hope for next year and beyond.  I don’t think anyone is really in a position to leave for the NBA, which means we’re set to have one of the more veteran teams in the conference.  That hasn’t been the case in I don’t know how long.  Probably not since the LAST time the Huskies made the NCAA Tournament, in 2011.

Crisp, Thybulle, Dickerson, and Green will all be Seniors (assuming none of them go pro or transfer).  Timmins and Carlos Johnson will be Juniors (assuming they stick around).  And, Nowell, Wright, and Nahz Carter will all be Sophomores.  Aside from Johnson (who I have to believe will go to another school, as he’s getting buried on the depth chart), these are all players who contributed quite a bit to making this Husky season a success.

And that’s not even counting the incoming recruits.  The Huskies just secured a 4-star center, Bryan Penn-Johnson, to go along with 4-star guard Jamal Bey, and three other 3-star players who will look to compete for minutes next season.  Things are looking UP for the Washington Huskies for the first time in a long time.  I’m proud of these kids.  I hope they work really hard and are rewarded with a berth in the NCAA Tournament next year.

The Huskies Lost In The First Round Of The Pac-12 Tournament

Well, it was a nice dream we had once.  Saturday, February 3rd, the Huskies were riding high off of a last-second victory over the Top 10 Arizona Wildcats (pre-scandal).  We were 17-6 (7-3), very nearly cracking into the Top 25, with a couple of creampuff games on the road against the Oregon schools to keep the momentum going.  Obviously, the high-point of our season.

Since that night, the Huskies have gone 3-6, including a whopping 1-4 against those same fucking Oregon schools.  Those Oregon schools that aren’t worth a shit, yet somehow have our fucking number every time.  Even the lone win, against the Beavs, last week, was a nail-biter to the bitter end!

I caught a lot of the game last night at Buffalo Wild Wings in Downtown Seattle, before the Anthony Jeselnik show at The Moore, but I gotta be honest, I was a good 1 and a half sheets to the wind.  So, you know, I remember bits and pieces.  I remember both teams were fucking atrocious in the first half, offensively.  I remember the Beavs kicking it up a notch in the second half.  I remember the Huskies having the ball, tied, with a little over 30 seconds to go.  I remember Jaylen Nowell driving, pulling up in the lane, and missing a difficult shot in traffic.  I remember the Beavs going the other way and getting up a legitimate shot to win it that clanged off.  I remember the game going into overtime and I remember needing to leave right that second as the comedy show was about to start.  I remember my friend checking his phone for score updates, I remember seeing the Beavs with a 3-point lead, and I remember the score not changing as ostensibly the Huskies would’ve missed their final shot(s).

I also remember losing 40 fucking dollars on the God damned Huskies!  WHAT A START TO MY LONG GAMBLING WEEKEND IN RENO NEXT WEEK!

I mean, what can you say that hasn’t already been said?  David Crisp:  2/7 from the three-point line, with only 1 free throw attempt in 41 fucking minutes of game play.  Jaylen Nowell:  4/12 from the field, with only 3 free throw attempts in 31 minutes of game play.  Noah Dickerson, bless his heart, had 15 points and 10 rebounds while in constant foul trouble.  But, one of the keys here was the 3-man bench of Dominic Green, Naz Carter, and Hameir Wright.  They combined for 8 points, were 1/6 from beyond the arc, and ultimately made pretty much no impact in a game that was close from start to finish.  That’ll change next year, as guys are more experienced, and get used to playing with one another, but damn did it hurt the Huskies this year.

The book is out on this Husky team.  Double team Noah Dickerson (or do whatever you can to deny him the ball in the post), let David Crisp shoot all the fucking threes he wants, get physical with Jaylen Nowell, and you’ll live with the other guys trying to beat you, because the other guys are ultimately too unselfish or otherwise not good enough to beat you on most nights.

Mike Hopkins was a very deserving Coach of the Year winner in the Pac-12, considering where this team was a year ago, but he won that award the day this team beat Arizona.  I think it’s more than a little alarming the way this team finished its season.  I still have very high hopes for next year, but I’m also going to be a little cautious.

As for the rest of this year, I guess you could make an argument that the Huskies should be in the N.I.T., but I dunno.  This team has been dreadful over the last month, and there are a ton of teams just in the Pac-12 alone that have been playing MUCH better than us.  So, this might be the end of the line, which is a collosal bummer.  Fingers crossed, I guess.

The Huskies Have A Lot Of Work To Do After A Home Split With The Mountain Schools

The Thursday defeat to Utah was all kinds of bad.  That brought us to a season sweep, which is frustrating, because I seem to remember Utah being a poor matchup for us for the last few years now.  Upon further review, that makes 6 losses in a row, and 9 of 12 since Utah joined the conference, a lot of those defeats being pretty ugly for the Dawgs.  So, yeah, they continue to be our kryptonite.  The less said about that game, the better.

That brought Washington’s losing steak to 3 games, and put all the pressure on the remaining regular season schedule, as well as a moderate amount of pressure on the Pac-12 Tournament (pressure that will only continue to grow with every regular season loss).  As it stands right now, the Huskies are among the First Four Out in most prominent Bracketology editions this morning, and that’s only because we were able to take care of business against Colorado.

The Huskies decided to change things up and share a group outing to see the Black Panther movie that came out over the weekend.  Emboldened, with an opportunity to forget all their problems of the last two weeks, the Dawgs came out on fire against the Buffaloes, beating them 82-59 on the night UW retired Isaiah Thomas’ jersey.  It was a perfect night.

Thybulle had a monster offensive night, Crisp continued to suck balls from beyond the arc (hitting his first shot, then missing his next 4; the worst thing in the world is a bad shooter hitting his first shot, leading him to believe he’s got something going that night).  After a string of poor performances, Dominic Green got the start over Jaylen Nowell; Nowell still had 31 minutes off the bench and had a solid game.  Green, on the other hand, hit 3/4 from long distance and continues to be our best sharp-shooting threat; very deserving of starter’s minutes.  Naz Carter continues to make strides, and should compete to be this team’s starting point guard next year (hopefully supplanting Crisp and his poor shooting).  And Dickerson had a nice game after being plagued by fouls and missed shots against Utah.

As always, there’s a lot to already be happy about with this season of Husky basketball.  We’ve officially doubled our win total from a year ago, and quadrupled our conference win total.  That’s Coach of the Year material right there, no doubt about it.  But, there’s still more to get.  We go on the road to play the Bay Area schools this week, and we NEED to avenge our previous loss to Stanford.  Cal is terrible, so it would be a huge upset to drop that one on Saturday, but the real concern is the Cardinal.  They looked to be a very poor matchup for us a month ago, and I can’t imagine they’ve gotten a whole lot worse in the subsequent month.  The Huskies need to dig deep, avoid careless turnovers, and rebound like their lives depend on it.  After this, we’ve just got the two home games against the Oregon schools, then it’s Pac-12 Tourney time.  Every game is vitally important from here on out.  Going 4-0 would put us in a great position to make life a lot easier.