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College Hoops

Washington Husky Huddle for Sunday March 11th 2012 (Part Two)

Kudos to Romar for winning the out right title with the 2nd youngest team, but the game against the Beavers was a clear case of “keeping it real”. One friend of mine defined that often used street term, that derives from Ebonics. as the act of going to fast food drive through with your brand new sports car.

You can try to look high class as much as you want, but it is hard to hide who you really are, where you come from, etc. The Dawgs were a team of very young kids this year which rode an award winning coaching job from Romar, who got young, but hugely talented players to play much more like a team than one would expect in normal circumstances.

Give credit to the Bruins and Beavs, though it really didn’t matter in the end, that they did a great job of defending and hustling down the stretch. That said, UW should have had the resolve to survive, as a more veteran team with their talent would have. Against the Beavers, a more talented and prepared team would have made free throws at a better rate than 12-26 in a game of such huge importance.

I find it hard to believe that Romar and his staff did a poor job of emphasizing the importance of the OSU game, but I do feel that they need to do a better job of emphasizing proper attention to FT shooting drills in the off-season. Insanity is defined by doing things over and over that are wrong and in the area of FT shooting prep as a team, UW is near nuts at this point.

The tenure of Romar is a loveable insanity mind you, one that is huge on excitement, great at talent evaluation, incredible at going up against “elite” programs and winning recruiting battles much more often than should ever be expected. Romar and staff teach rebounding on an off the charts level, as at this point the Dawgs are the 5th best on the glass in D1.

Lorenzo has done a great job of making sure he has shooters, but he needs to do a better job of teaching guys to make a FT when the game is on the line. That is a separate skill to actually FT shooting form and it needs to be readdressed. The Dawgs are not the only team that has this deficiency, as the plight of Cougs demonstrated, but to a championship team and a consistent participant in the NCAA tournament, UW needs to do something different in that regard.

To remember the season as one where the team won their 2nd out right conference title in four years, after not doing so since 1953, but not going to the NCAA tournament would be a hard pill to swallow much worse in a lot of ways than somehow getting in this week and not winning the conference race.

There are very mixed emotions for Husky fans now, but should the tournament committee end up in agreement with me (that you can’t leave the team out that won the regular season in a league that traditionally out performs the experts in the post season), those blue notes could become upbeat dance music.

Regardless I don’t feel that Romar, Wroten, Ross, Wilcox, Gant, junior post Aziz N’Diaye, Gaddy and the rest of the young Dawgs did much wrong in 2012 thus far. Speaking of Aziz, he was the subject of a nice feature last Sunday on Pac-12.org which focused on his work ethic. I think that N’Diaye made some solid advances in his game over the past year and his senior year could be pretty special.

The scandal at UCLA will not go away in my opinion, as I stated in my last column. On Monday the LA Times, aware that a lot of talk exists that Bruin coach Ben Howland could be in trouble, asked Romar if he would consider talking the job.

“I’m never looking anywhere but Washington, and I maintain this is where I want to be.”

I think that you can take Lorenzo at his word there, as he has turned down every effort to draw him away for UW, which include head jobs in the NBA (and I don’t mean guys like Allen Iverson and Steve Francis). Husky fans should count their blessings, even if the NCAA committee does their worst.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as long as you are not insane (as I’m concerned the UW staff are in the area of teaching FT’s). UW should have another team next season that could win a 5th title, just as much as anyone up and down the coast. I feel that Lorenzo and staff will do a good job of managing the roster, whether Ross and/or Wroten leave or not.

We’ll talk about next year, when the time comes, but I think that the Dawgs should still keep their eyes on the prize of the NCAA Championship. If the Dawgs do get a shot, they have the kind of guard oriented team to get past the first week. Whether they have the type of post play to get past the 2nd week, I kind of doubt it, but dreams do come true only for those that believe them.

The conference awards which came out on Monday also add to the argument that the Dawgs are a team that should be allowed to shine in the big dance. On Sunday Jason King of ESPN chose Wroten as his Pac-12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Gaddy as Most Improved, Wilcox as Sixth man of the Year and Ross to the 2nd (five man) team.

Also on Sunday Doug Haller of azcentral.com chose Tony as POY and FOY, with Ross also on his 5-man first team.

The Oregonian was loyal to the the former Portland star, as they named Ross as their POY on Monday.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times on Monday named Romar as COY and Wroten as POY and FOY.

The official awards finally came out Monday afternoon and Cal’s great guard Jorge Gutierrez won the POY, with Romar COY, Wroten FOY, N’Diaye All-Defensive (5-man) team, Wroten All-Freshman (5-man) team, Wilcox Pac-12 honorable mention (receiving at least three votes). A lot of hardware for a conference team that has produced so many legends of the game.

On Tuesday Wroten and Ross were named to the 10-man District IX team, encompassing the states of CA, OR, WA, HI, AZ and AK regardless to conference affiliation.

On Tuesday the Pac-12 media that chose UW 4th going into the season and Colorado 10th, chose UW as the team most likely to win the Pac-12 tournament. These guys may be falling into the insanity is repeating the same mistake theory, but they had good company, as 3/10 of ESPN’s college hoops experts did the same thing on Thursday.

Whatever happens on Sunday and from here on out in the post season, a central question for UW fans will be (in regards to Wroten and Ross” stay or go? On Saturday Jeff Taylor of Husky Haul summarized that Wroten can feel that his road led to a “Mission Accomplished”.

I find that hard to argue with, in both Tony and Terrence cases, because they will both likely be first round picks, but keep in mind that the Huskies were likely locks to make the NCAA tournament when they won the out right title. In both Wroten’s and Ross’ case I could see another year helping him out a lot to prepare for the NBA game.

Which is better, going to the guaranteed money now or the much larger pie, should they both be first round picks and guys ready to actually play important roles right off the bat. The D-league and overseas pro leagues are littered with guys who were “can’t miss” players. Giving themselves another year to finish off their games a bit would probably be all that I would do if I were them, but not a stupid idea.

Right now Ross is a mid-first rounder and Tony probably mid-to-late, with perhaps a greater chance of someone grabbing him earlier on a flier. If Tony were to fix his FT’s and make some moves on his shooting from the perimeter (he made very few shots outside of the paint), he really could work his way into the top-3 picks where endorsement money and rookie contracts move up hugely. He’d probably make 3-10 times the money in his first three years if he did.

In Terrence’s case, I would think that he could move up strongly with another year. If I’m Ross, I’m more concerned about being a 6-foot-6 SG with tremendous skills and athleticism, but not having really shown adequate consistency. The pressure at the NBA level makes that of the Pac-12 look like milk-toast.

If I were Terrence, I’d like to look at myself and see a player with the dominance and consistency of a Brandon Roy before making the jump. If Ross were to play himself up to that top-3 level, the financial rewards would be there, but I feel that he doesn’t have that type of upside like Tony. I do feel that he could possibly play himself up to the level, where Roy was chosen (5-8), where the money and the chances for doing well also move up considerably.

The Pac-12 is not only moving up to the huge new TV Deal with ESPN/Fox, but according to “multiple sources” the league is reportedly “nearing a deal” to move to Las Vegas NV’s MGM Grand for the conference tournament, the Seattle Times reported on Tuesday.

So the Pac-12 season and tourney are over for UW, but now comes the drama of Selection Sunday. The Dawgs are about on firmly on the bubble as a team can be. After all of the puff pieces, it was so, so easy to point that out for the media. Saturday John McGrath of thenewstribune.com said “Sorry, Huskies that’s not enough and after talking about “3-Peat” going into Thursday’s game, Ryan Divish talked about how the loss “Might keep UW from the big dance”.

The AP said that the loss puts the Dawgs “squarely on the bubble”. Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times said that the Dawgs “didn’t play like an NCAA tournament team in loss to Oregon State”. Yahoo pointed to Wroten’s FT’s on Friday, but it was UW’s team effort at the stripe that was more the story. On Saturday Allen of the Times talked about the series of games results around the country starting to add up to “Washington’s NCAA tourney hopes fading”.

Jeff Borzello of CBS asked however, “Would the selection committee really turn down the winner of a traditional power conference that boasts so much talent?” and I think that the committee is much more likely to do so than people think. Finally on Saturday sportspressnw.com asked, “Do the Huskies really belong in the big dance”. Everybody loves you when you win, but when you lose everything turns quickly, but I think that if this Husky team in given a chance they could very possibly catch fire in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

On Sunday Yahoo picked UW to be left home with Cal and Pac-12 tourney champ Colorado getting in and Lawrence Mitchell’s of Husky Haul debated the pros and cons of UW’s bubble situation. There nothing to do but wait for Husky fans, but I feel that though the Dawgs did this to themselves, they clearly are worthy of an at-large bid this season. You can’t leave the team that won the outright league title out and went 16-5 to end the year in a competitive and historically brilliant conference.

There are too many NBA players in this league right now to judge UW on a system that weighs too much towards non-conference, early season games. I think it is wrong and the committee has historically made decisions that swing more towards my way of thinking, but we will soon see.

Former Dawgs in the News

Venoy Overton, who was an integral part of three straight NCAA tournament teams (and fans are seeing that this is no easy trick), was sentenced to 21 days in jail for his involvement in promoting prostitution. I’ll spare the sordid details and the moral back and forth, but Venoy was a great and loyal Husky who did as lot to help the program.

I hope that he pulls his life together and his bachelors degree in ethnic studies from Washington should help him a great deal. I hope that if he shows a solid effort to get his life on track that UW fans will also recognize him for his game winning heroics and not this fiasco in his senior year.

The Seattle Weekly on Thursday reported that Overton used the “Alford Plea” which allows a defendant to plead guilty, but still assert his innocence. Whatever happened, Venoy is a player that I have always felt did a great job for UW and deserves to be mentioned as such by basketball fans. I really hope that he can put his life back together.

Former All Pac-10 first team Husky Tre Simmons was the subject on Wednesday in eurobasket.com in which Roy and honorary Dawg Jamal Crawford honor him by talking about his great abilities. Tre made the right choice to make more money in the Euro leagues than to try to work for much less to pursue the NBA. Tre was another great UW guard that many felt should have chosen the NBA, but the road did not appear to be an easy one and he chose Europe, which has been a solid move for him.

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