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Husky Men's Basketball Blog
Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.
Now that I have had a few days to actually comprehend what took place on Sunday, I finally have my wits about me (sort of). After the initial shock and awe of the Huskiesí seed and subsequent draw in the NCAA tournament, I have had time to sit down and go through the teams the Huskies could run into along the way.
I have believed in everything Iíve written all year, and I believe in this. The Huskies can get to the Final Four, and once they are there they can give Illinois (or whoever they may play) a serious run for their money.
Their first game is Montana. This is a team that finished with an 18-12 record, but against teams that had a prayer of cracking the top 100 in the country (Gonzaga, Stanford and Missouri) they lost by a combined total of about 600 points. I hate to look past any team, butÖ.NEXT.
A second round game could feature Pitt or Pacific. Pacific had been the darlings of the West Coast with a staggering run through their conference season, but they got beat by Utah State in their conference tournament final, and fell to an eight seed. I know they have only lost three games all year, (including a 11-point loss to Kansas) but I donít think they have the horses. Pitt has some big guys inside, but their guard play is terribly weak. Itís tough for their bigs to play well if their guards canít get them the ball, and I think UWís defensive pressure on the perimeter will be too much for Pittís backcourt.
Here is where things get fun. In the Sweet 16, the Huskies would draw either Louisville (miffed about being seeded as a four) or Georgia Tech (last yearís national runner up). Any combination of these teams would probably result in a 156-148 double overtime game, because there would be no shortage of scorers on the court. Hereís why I give UW the edge. Louisville played in a conference that had some good teams and some very awful teams. Their only big non-conference game was Kentucky (they lost). They lost at home to Memphis, and should have lost the Conference USA title game to them as well, but that poor kid missed free throws. Georgia Tech, as talented as they are, havenít been consistent or healthy all season. They went on a mini run in the ACC tourney, but Jarrett Jack hurt his ankle against Duke.
In the Elite Eight, the Dawgs could draw anybody from Wake Forest to Texas Tech to West Virginia, hell even UCLA could slide in there. But there is one match up that Husky fans want.
If the Bulldogs can get through to meet the Huskies in an Elite Eight showdown, it would be the biggest sports story in the history of Washington state, and it would be a huge momentum swing for West Coast hoops. And, I have no doubt the Huskies would win. Do you think that Nate Robinson wants to end his collegiate career getting bested by Derek Raivio? That would be a game that Robinson would simply take over. Regardless, it is a game that Northwest fans are craving.
I also think the Huskies can beat Wake Forest, whose guards are just as talented as ours, but have shown immaturity (Chris Paulís low blow to Julius Hodge) and inability to win without main contributors. The Huskies have faced losing one of their big guns and survived, and they are a very mature team.
Once (if) the Huskies get to St. Louis, I canít even begin to imagine what would happen, and I would have to watch it unfold just like everybody else.
Of course, this is why March Madness is called Madness. Nobody knows what will happen. If the Huskies donít shoot well, they may not get out of the second round. If they catch fire, they might not play a close game until the Elite Eight. This may be the single greatest sporting event in America.
By the way, make sure to catch the Dawgs on ESPNís All Access as "Sportscenter" follows the UW all the way through the NCAA Tournament.
Posted by Bob Payne at 1:56 PM
Here's where the Huskies have ended up going into the NCAA tournament:
RPI rating: UW drops rises to No. 3 this week in these computer ratings. collegerpi.com
Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies rise to No. 7. Sportsline RPI
Sagarin ratings: UW again rise to No. 5 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball
AP Top 25: UW today moves up six spots to No. 8 in voting by the media. AP rankings
There is a phrase that was uttered by the immortal Jack Buck after Kirk Gibson hit his dramatic home run to win Game One of the 1988 World Series, and it pretty much describes what just happened.
ďI donít believe what I just saw.Ē
Thank you, Mr. Buck. I couldnít have said it better myself. I just finished watching the NCAA selection show, and I didnít have to wait long to find out where the Huskies would be.
Ladies and gentleman, a one seed. A ONE SEED. ONE OF THE TOP FOUR TEAMS IN AMERICA.
All season I have complained about Dick Vitale and ESPN not respecting the West and the ball we play out here. Apparently, it doesnít matter what those guys think, The only people who matter got it right today, and Iím talking about the NCAA selection committee. They saw that the Huskies had one of the most impressive resumes of any team, and they rewarded the Dawgs.
When I started to pay attention to sports some 20 years ago, I learned very quickly that UW was a football school. Even when the Bob Bender teams of the mid-í90s went to the NCAA tourney, they were still one of the last teams to get in with their 19-11 or 20-10 records. I never ever thought that in my lifetime I would see a Husky basketball team as a one seed in an NCAA tourney.
What is happening at Montlake right now is special, and it is a once-in-a-generation occurrence. This type of season doesnít happen all the time, even to traditional powerhouse teams. This type of team doesnít come along all the time, with this amount of heart and character.
I donít know how the NCAA tournament is going to play out, but as we get ready for one of the most exciting events in sports, I do know one thing. I have never ever been prouder of a Seattle area team, and I have never been more excited for what could lie ahead.
My friends, I hope you have your best dancing shoes on. Letís go cut a rug.
It was an ugly, ugly game on Friday. It wasnít fun to watch, and it wasnít pretty. It was a gritty, slow down post-season type game. Itís not the style that the Huskies play, and itís usually not a formula for their success. But last night was different. They did things that good teams do late in the season. They adapted, improvised and overcame.
On two consecutive nights the Huskies showed the toughness that they will need to make a run in the NCAA tournament. They played a team that had beaten them less than a week ago, and instead of allowing Stanford to beat them in the same manner, the Huskies buckled down and gutted out a win.
I said yesterday that at this point in the season, all that matters are wins. Last night the Huskies showed they have the mentality to not get taken out of games when teams play a different style than them. Instead, they just took Stanfordís best shot and won the game.
I donít know what is going to happen today against Arizona. The Wildcats have been playing unbelievably well and breezed through the first two rounds of the Pac-10 tourney. But thatís what makes this time of year special. Every day there is a new hero, and every day something incredible happens. The Huskies have won two very hard fought games, and they are still hungry. They arenít coasting right now, they have an edge that a championship team needs in March.
Oh man, today is going to be fun.
At this point in the season, all I care about is the letter W. I donít care how you get it, just make sure you get it. Last night, the Huskies got it. I donít care that they blew an 18 point lead and allowed a length of the floor layup at the end of regulation, they still won the game. I donít care if they were taken to the wire by the 7th seed in the Pac-10 tourney, they still won the game.
This is my problem with all these Johnny come Lately Husky fans. They want to know why the Dawgs arenít blowing teams out. This is postseason basketball, and from now on, every team that the Huskies play will be playing for their NCAA lives. They are going to give the Dawgs their best effort.
Arizona State is a solid team with Ike Diogu, the best player in the country. He did everything he could to will his team past the Huskies and he couldnít do it. The Huskies are a really good team. They have 25 wins in 30 tries. They are playing in the semifinals of their conference tournament. They are a lock for the NCAA tournament. I donít care if the Huskies have to win on a last second 80-foot desperation shot. I donít care if they win by 35 points. This is NCAA basketball in March, baby (by the way, I hate Dick Vitale. Do you think he knows that college basketball is played west of the Mississippi River? I certainly donít). A win is a win, and as long as the Huskies keep racking Ďem up, Iím happy. So now, letís focus on getting these next two, and then weíll deal with what comes next.
And, if we do get these next two, we may not be prepared for what comes next.
There was a swagger in the Huskies last night. Itís one that very few teams have, and most teams want. Itís the swagger of a team playing for a championship.
Even though the Huskies were playing the ninth-place team in the Pac-10 on the road, it didnít matter. The Huskies were quicker to every loose ball, the Huskies were quicker down the court, the Huskies moved their feet on defense, and managed to win on the road by 36 points. A 36-point conference win on the road in March just doesnít happen. Of course, donít tell that to the Dawgs.
Since the debacle in Corvallis two weeks ago, this is a different Husky team. They are not just coasting anymore, they are getting after teams and imposing their will on them for 40 minutes. They did it to WSU (who beat up Stanford last night at Maples Pavilion) in Pullman, they did it to Arizona State and Arizona last week, and last night they demoralized Cal on their own floor. Believe me when I say itís not easy to get fired up to play a last place team right after beating the first place team.
With one game left to play, the Dawgs have the luxury of having part of their fate in their own hands. By winning on Saturday, they can clinch their first shared Pac-10 title in 20 years. To get the regular season title outright and a No. 1 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament, they will need help from Arizona State and Oregon. It really doesnít matter that much, as long as the Huskies win, because right now the seven seed would be WSU. If Iím not mistaken, the Huskies are the only team that has not struggled to beat the Cougs this year.
After all that, I am still selfish and want a No. 1 seed. This Husky team is better than Arizona, and they are playing their best ball of the year right now, when it matters most. The seniors (and guys like Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy, who may be gone) who suffered through the 10-18 years and the dismal start last year deserve to go out as the best team in the Pac-10. Husky fans deserve to have a championship team after suffering through the Bob Bender era and "The Young and The Neuheisel" soap opera.
As we count down to Saturday, I can only imagine what is going through the heads of the Huskies. I can only imagine how much they want that Pac-10 crown. I can only imagine that it is consuming them and lighting a fire inside them that only a title can. I can only imagine that they will come out and play Saturday as if a National Championship was on the line.
And after Saturday, it will be time to Dance.