Pac-10 Tournament Roundup and Washington Husky Huddle for March 10th 2011

Mar 10, 2011, 2:37 AM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

The All Pac-10 team and awards were announced on Monday and five Huskies were selected. Junior guard Isaiah Thomas and senior post Matthew Bryan-Amaning were chosen to the All Pac-10 1st team (ten players). Bryan-Amaning was a winner in three categories, as he was also chosen as the league Most Improved Player and honorable mention All-Defensive Team.

Freshman guard C.J. Wilcox was chosen to the All Pac-10 Freshman Team. Senior guard Justin Holiday was awarded honorable mention for the All-Defensive Team along with “MBA” and freshman guard Terrence Ross was awarded honorable mention for the Freshman Team. USC senior wing Marcus Simmons was the Defensive Player of the Year.

Arizona sophomore post Derrick Williams was chosen as the Pac-10 Player of the Year, while ‘Zona coach Sean Miller was chosen as Coach of the Year. UCLA had the most players chosen on the All Pac-10 1st team in sophomore post Reeves Nelson, sophomore wing Tyler Honeycutt and junior guard Malcolm Lee.

WSU junior guard Klay Thompson was the lone Coug selected 1st team All Pac-10. Junior post Nikola Vucevic of USC was also chosen 1st team All Pac-10, but in my opinion should have been the Player of the Year. His stats were better than Williams’, but as is often the case. the best player on the regular season champ won the POY award.

I also felt that Sean Miller was not as deserving as either Mike Montgomery of Cal or even Dana Altman of Oregon. Both of those coaches did a lot more with a lot less than Miller, but winning the championship does count for something. Put Miller with the talent in either Berkeley CA or Eugene OR and we would have not seen as good of a result in my opinion.

Miller is a coach that I believe was hand selected by both Nike and the heavily involved boosters in Tucson AZ to protect their “brand” and play the “game” the way they like to play it, but at least he did what he was hired to do. I am not surprised that ‘Zona is back on top so fast.

I felt this would happen and said so at the time when analysts like ESPN’s Andy Katz were predicting a long rebuilding job for Miller. Another guy that I felt was under-appreciated, by these awards was Oregon senior post Joevan Catron.

A poor start and a poor finish by the Ducks in conference play probably cost him votes, but I believe he was All Pac-10 1st team. For the Ducks to have done as well as they did was stunning and certainly in no small part due to the awesome job that Catron and Altman did this season.

Cal Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez and Stanford junior guard Jeremy Green were also named to the All Pac-10 1st team. I don’t have an argument with Gutierrez, but I could easily see Catron there instead of Green or Honeycutt. I think that Honeycutt was chosen more on perceived ability than actual performance.

Green was certainly worthy of the 2nd team, as was OSU sophomore guard Jared Cunningham, WSU post DeAngelo Casto, ASU sophomore guard Trent Lockett and Cal junior post Harper Kamp, but I just felt that Catron deserved better. He was a real mismatch for everyone in the league and the key component in Oregon’s success.

Overall the awards were decent (a lot better than the officiating this season), but COY and Catron 2nd team were just wrong. I feel that Freshman of the Year was 100% correct in Cal guard Allen Crabbe. “MBA” as most improved was also very solid, though Catron could have been easily considered there as well.

Montlake Madness co-publisher Griffin Bennett took issue with Catron not being named 1st team and chose to focus on Lee as a player that should have been bumped.

I would tend to agree with that logic, though I think that Honeycutt, followed by Green are better candidates. Lee could easily be third off the list though. Bennett was our guest on “Talkin’ Hoops” last Monday night, as we talked about the slumpy and dumpy Dawgs, along with co-host Amin Besharat.

Yahoo gave out it’s all Pac-10 awards on Saturday, prior to all of the teams’ final games. They didn’t pick Catron in their top-10 (they named three teams of five a piece, rather than a ten man team and a five man 2nd team), they did not pick Honeycutt at all.

Don’t get me wrong, Honeycutt is a major prospect at the next level, because of his physical gifts (A.K.A. height and athleticism), but he averaged over three turnovers per game and had an assist to turnover ratio of .85 to go with his more impressive 12 PPG and 7 RPG. He was worse in Pac-10 play, having more than three TO’s 10 times.

Five times Tyler had five or more in league play. I thought that Yahoo also got it right that they chose Montgomery as Coach of the Year.

Thomas and Bryan-Amaning were also chosen to the five man 1st team of the NABC District 20 team, which was announced on Wednesday.

All the All-American Teams are starting to come out now and Fox Sports released theirs on Monday.

Representing the Pac-10 were Williams on the 2nd team and Vucevic on the 4th team (all five man squads). Simmons also made the (Five man) All-American Defensive Team.

CBS Sports gave out their conference awards for all of the major leagues and awards for the catch-all best of the “Non-BCS”. Williams was the POY, Miller COY and UCLA post Josh Smith was named Freshman of the Year. Thomas, Thompson, Vucevic, Nelson and Williams made up the all conference team.

CBS Sports released their All-America Team and Williams was 1st team AA, with no other Pac-10 player or coach mentioned.

The polls came out Monday and ‘Zona remained the only conference team to be ranked in either the AP (16th) or Coaches (15th) polls. UCLA received votes in both polls. The Bruins received 40 in the AP (29th) and 36 in the coaches (28th).

UW was the only other Pac-10 school receiving a vote, with one vote in the Coaches poll. In the RPI rankings ‘Zona was ranked 16th, UCLA 33rd, UW 46th, Cal 65th, ‘SC 70th and WSU 75th. No other Pac-10 team was higher than Stanford at 141st.

Five Pac-10 beat writers answered eight questions, summarizing conference play and looking to the postseason. The one thing all five could agree on was that the Huskies were the biggest disappointment. Frankly these guys opinions barely differed from each other, but it was interesting to listen to their spin on things.

Following a number of these guys weekly columns, “power rankings” and tweets, it’s amazing how much they are able to make such sweeping statements about the relative qualities of teams and players that are so contradictory. I give them credit though for venturing opinions in a volatile game like Pac-10 hoops.

Yahoo’s All-American Team was nearly devoid of anything pro Pac-10, as Williams was named to the 2nd team, Vucevic honorably mentioned and that was it. Yahoo had three five man AA teams, so since they didn’t pick an All-Defensive Team, I guess it wasn’t much different than Fox’s.

The Pac-10 Tournament started on Wednesday in the Staples Center in Los Angeles CA. First up was 8th seeded Stanford against 9th seeded OSU and the Beavers took it 69-67. OSU moves on to face 1st seeded ‘Zona at 2:40 p.m. (PST) on Thursday.

Also on Wednesday 7th seeded Oregon faced 10th seeded ASU. The Ducks won that game 76-69 and will move on to Thursday to face 2nd seeded UCLA at 6:10 p.m. (PST).

4th seeded USC will kick off Thursday action at 12:10 p.m. (PST) against 5th seeded Cal. 3rd seeded Washington will face 6th seeded WSU to finish things things off on Thursday at 8:40 p.m. (PST).

Ten ESPN college hoops analysts predicted the winner of Pac-10 tourney. USC was the most popular choice with four votes. UCLA was 2nd with three votes. California, Washington and Arizona each received a vote. Blogger Diamond Leung chose the Huskies.

According to basketballprospectus.com, by looking at all of the numbers, Washington is the favorite to win the Pac-10 tourney.

According to kenpom.com, UW is the 16th strongest team in the nation, highest among the Pac-10. ‘Zona is 29th and UCLA 39th.

Bracket talk has been picking up, as it finally should be this time of year. Joe Lunardi of ESPN placed UW as a 10-seed, with UCLA a 7-seed and ‘Zona a 5-seed. USC was listed in the “First four out” and WSU as “Next four out”.

Bracketproject listed a consensus of 30 bracket predictions and UW was listed as a 10-seed on average and as high as a 7-seed.

Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated listed the Dawgs as “Should be in” but not the “Locks” that ‘Zona and UCLA are.

“The Huskies got a second win over UCLA, which looms even larger after they lost to USC Saturday night. Third place in a weak Pac-10, with the three best wins over the two teams ahead of them? Not terribly compelling, but very likely enough this season to dance. Danger lurks in the Pac-10 tourney: A third meeting with cross-state rival Wazzu, which has beaten UW twice already.”

ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan in his “Bubble Talk” column listed UW as one of the, “Teams that should be in”, with the ‘Cats and Bruins as “Locks”. Brennan didn’t sound quite so certain about the meaning of the word “should” though when he described UW’s situation.

“We still can’t move Washington into the field, or even say it should be in: The Huskies keep finding ways to make their suddenly shaky profile look slightly, if not drastically, worse with each passing week.”

The Hoops Report put Washington in their “Bubble Boys” column, stating more clearly that the Dawgs had to beat the Cougs to get an at-large bid.

“The Huskies can’t afford to lose to Washington State for the third time this season. If they win that, they should be in.”

There was more bubble talk from Bleacher Report who on Tuesday made a list of 15 teams, including USC and WSU, likely to not get an at-large bid.

Husky Huddle

Husky Head Coach Lorenzo Romar added another two hurdles to the game with WSU, when he announced to the media on Tuesday that senior guard Venoy Overton would not participate in the Pac-10 tournament and that Holiday was out with a concussion suffered against USC on Saturday.

Overton was charged with supplying alcohol to a minor on Tuesday. The crime is a gross misdemeanor that can carry with it as much as a year in jail, but this situation is not likely to be viewed as near that severe in my opinion.

Romar said that if UW were to participate in a post-season tourney after the Pac-10 event, that Overton would be able to participate.

Romar also gave reasoning for his decision on a moral level, when he spoke to the media on Tuesday.

“I think what’s really important is to make sure there are consequences, but also to change behavior. We have to grow from these things, and we have to learn from these things.”

I thought that his statement was a fair one, but the Seattle media went pretty hard on Venoy in my opinion, especially Seattle Times columnists Jerry Brewer and Steve Kelley.

Brewer used harsh language to describe the immoral travesty of Overton to the moral man that really is coach Romar, at least from all I can gather from watching him intently for the all of his career at Washington, including playing days.

“Players who make a single mistake — such as Washington State’s Klay Thompson getting busted with Mary Jane — deserve a kind of discipline that allows for an immediate second chance. But Overton is different. He made a series of poor decisions on that January night, morally corrupt decisions that cannot be tolerated.”

One thing that keeps coming up is how Romar’s values are based on his belief in Christ and workman-like study of the bible. I remember one thing that Jesus said that changed my life.

“He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I have no room to pass judgment on Overton, Thompson or Moore, what little I know about theit private lives. I smoked marijuana first as a 10-year old in 1967. I lost my virginity at 14 and had sex with a woman before I was 16 that was much older than Venoy (hey, it was the 70’s).

I never went on a date until I was 27 years old, because I was a well known local musician and never needed that type of pretense, if you get my drift. I cheated on my girlfriends, but luckily never had any children with them or those that I cheated with. I’m proud to say that I did not behave like that later while married, but I wasn’t, aren’t and never will be good enough to judge anyone morally.

I sampled every drug that I could find during my youth. I’m very thankful that I came through that time in my life without serious addiction problems or HIV. I’m also thankful that I had the good sense to avoid intravenous drug use, though many of the “cool people” that I associated with in the music business did, some now household names.

I am fortunate to have been blessed with good enough morals or at worst survival instincts to allow me to make it. I made more “morally corrupt decisions” in my life than probably Overton, Thompson, Moore and all of the players in both UW and WSU’s programs over the past ten years combined.

I’m the one that people like Brewer and the self-righteous posters on message boards need to focus on. Come and get me. My journalism skills are lacking because of the moral decisions I made, unlike saints like the pro Brewer who obviously did everything right. C’mon, let me hear it.

I am not fit morally to even cover something as wholesome as high school and college basketball players. I’ve heard it before. Let me have it again.

Come and get me and leave Venoy Overton alone. I agree that he should be suspended, as I also believe that what Thompson and Moore did should result in a suspension. I believe in team rules, but I do not believe in all of this talk of moral corruption. Firstly because I don’t pass the test myself, regardless to how I may behave today or tomorrow. Second because the game is much more corrupt all around these kids.

Pot, beer and teenage sex are not the problem, though I agree with a coach being able to set a rule about their use. Corruption is the biggest problem in college athletics and it’s not because of college level sex, drugs and alcohol abuse. Overton has given his heart and soul to the game of basketball and to UW, who he has played hard for despite coming off the bench most of his career there.

Kelley chose to put words into Romar’s mouth and play act the scene that happened behind closed doors between the coach and Overton. I found it to be in bad taste for the same reason that I disliked what Brewer said.

“I can’t even put my disappointment into words. I’d like you to feel the sorrow that I feel. But I also want you to know, Venoy, that you’re done as a Husky.”

To me this is the worst of Kelley, a columnist that I have had problems with for years anyway. Venoy may have made mistakes and I’m sure that he has and will learn from what has happened here, but to project so much negativity on an already tough situation is really wrong. I’m sure Kelley is just as morally perfect as Brewer and has every right to judge.

If you want my opinion, Romar believes that phrase that Jesus said to those that would stone a sinner. Brewer and Kelley and many others, myself included, could benefit by reading, re-reading and taking very seriously those words.

Romar also said Tuesday that Holiday may or may not be able to play against WSU, depending on his health. A decision may come as soon as the day of the game. With Venoy out against WSU, that puts UW in a very tenuous position against the Cougars. Thomas has been playing very poorly for him in the past three or four games following the disappointing loss at ‘Zona.

Romar also expressed to the media that this season has been the most disappointing season yet for him at Washington.

I asked the coach on Tuesday if after two fortunate wins in LA against USC and UCLA and two convincing wins over the Oregon schools at home after the loss of sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy, if his team thought at 4-0 that they were better than they actually were.

Romar said that may have been the case. I could have really gone hard after that answer, but I chose to let that notion sit in for a while. Romar had rolled his eyes, according to Kim Grinolds of Scout on his message board in an attempt to put me down, when I asked a similar question going into the trip to Arizona. I used the word lucky in regards to the sweep on the road in LA then.

Since UW has gone 7-7 since that “lucky” 4-0 start, the next question for Romar needs to be, who is responsible for your team failing to address problems and improve. Is it the assistant’s, the players or certain individuals and not others? The Huskies were picked to finish 1st by the media and were riding high in the polls all year, until they unraveled.

Romar needs to take full responsibility for the failure of this UW team, not maybe, perhaps or any other word that would be better used by Little Red Riding Hood, when wondering about grandma. UW is not that good of a team this year. No one is ready to take the mantle of go-to-guy that Quincy Pondexter so aptly filled last year.

What is worse is that the team believed that it was based on smoke, mirrors, misinformed poll voters and fluffy press coverage. That is Romar’s fault and he needs to be the one that goes into the off-season aware of his performance, not that of Overton or any player or assistant.

He may need to find a player or coach to improve his outfit, but ultimately it is his fault what has happened, just as it would be to his credit if miraculously things turned around.

Romar mentioned the loss of sophomore post Tyreese Breshers and Abdul Gaddy as two big disappointments that contributed to the overall disappointment of the season. I don’t think that he can blame the season thus far on that as much as he can himself.

The Dawgs were not as good as they would have been with those guys, but they could have been a lot better than they were if he would have done a better job. The Pac-10 tournament and perhaps the NCAA tournament provide potential redemption for Romar and his crew.

We’ll see what he and his team are made of. Romar said that he hopes that the team can come together and play as the “consummate team”. To do that it will help if he were willing to take responsibility for his part in their falling apart over the course of the season.

Despite their shortcomings, Washington were still well represented in the All Pac-10 awards. Romar said of Thomas, “If we could have done a better job as a team he could have been in there for player of the year as well”.

I disagree with that statement. Thomas played horribly for him in huge stretches this season. Against UCLA Saturday Thomas was like a spoiled little kid in playground ball trying to get “his” by taking off-balance shots. Against WSU and through out UW’s earlier three game skid he continued to force drives into the teeth of the defense.

Thomas is a great player that would be a major star in the NBA if he were a foot taller. Since he is not, he will struggle to play well against higher level D1 competition with his inconsistent understanding of his limitations. UW is Thomas’ team, much as it was Brockman’s team post Brandon Roy.

On one hand he has to be mentioned along side those two NBA players and All-Time Husky greats, but he will not be in their category unless he becomes a much smarter player. He has shown signs of it, but good scouts and quality players have shown him to not be as good as he thought he was, much like the team and the coaches around him.

Bryan-Amaning deserves a ton of credit for being hugely improved over the course of his Husky career and Romar smartly acknowledged that.

“Just shows his tremendous improvement and development. He definitely deserved it, he played as well as any of the top three big men in the league this year.”

The key for “MBA” going into the Pac-10 Tourney is that he is going to have to work extra hard, without a lot of highlight fuss and recognition. WSU will seek to take him out of the game, as they did in both of their wins over UW and Matt is going to have to take what the Cougs give him while helping UW find an advantage somewhere else to exploit.

The manner in which these two award winners put themselves 2nd and their team first is going to define the game on Thursday, a game which will likely determine whether Venoy will next be seen in the big dance or the NIT.

Romar also talked about his other award winners.

“C.J. Wilcox, did a nice job for us, it’s good to see him get awarded, even Terrence Ross, honorable mention All-Freshman team. Then Mathew and Justin on honorable mention All-Defensive team … so I’m really proud of the guys in that regard.”

Wilcox and Ross, along with 2011 signee Tony Wroten Jr and the return of Gaddy give the Huskies reason to be optimistic about next year, if the coaches can find some help in the front court. That said, neither Wilcox or Ross has proven to be a dependable weapon. They are both streaky and learning on the job.

That’s great for bench players, but to need them to produce in starters minutes is another story. Junior Scott Suggs is a better choice to start against WSU, but the loss of Overton and possibly Holiday is going to force UW to play both of the freshmen a lot.

Bryan-Amaning was appropriately humble after winning his awards.

“It feels good. I just want to thank everybody like all my teammates and coaching staff, they put me in a position to receive it. Obviously I wouldn’t be in a position like this without those guys, so I just want to thank them.”

Hopefully “MBA” will be able to put his team in a position to win, by putting himself 2nd. WSU has beaten UW twice by implementing a game plan that takes he and Thomas out of what they do best and makes them do what they struggle to do. They both need to do that well and forget about their stats and high light plays.

Matt also admitted that the coaches really had a lot to do with his award.

“Coaches put a lot of effort into helping me become a better player. I’ve come a long ways since freshman year.”

He needs to pay them back by bringing home an all-important win by playing smarter than he has in previous games against WSU.

Thomas talked on earning 1st team All-Pac 10.

“It’s an honor, but we’re trying to win bigger and better things, trying to win a Pac-10 championship.”

UW fans should be glad he said that, but now he needs to play smarter and less selfish than he has to get it done.

Then he took a huge step backward by saying that winning the Pac-10 Player of the Year, “That’s the ultimate goal”.

Which one is it Thomas? Is it your goal to help the UW team win games or “get mine”.

Thomas came back with a much better interview, when he spoke to the Seattle Times Percy Allen on Tuesday, after the ruling on Overton.

Perhaps what had happened woke Thomas up and made him realize how much the team needs him to play better and how much he needs the team.

The LA Times did a piece on impressive performances by small players in Pac-10 tournaments and focused on Thomas and ‘SC freshman guard Maurice Jones.

I thought it was an intelligent piece on small players in hoops and how they make it or not depending on their attitude and choices.

Wilcox was surprised, as were a few observers that he made the All-Freshman team.

“It was kind of unexpected with all those mid-season injuries and everything, but it happened. When I got the text it was a really good feeling. I texted all my family and got congratulated by them, so it just feels really good.”

It feels good to win, but Wilcox has not been Ray Allen or anything close to that. He is way too streaky. C.J. is a great prospect, but he needs to work very hard on his shooting and overall game at this point. If he’s hot, he needs to stay in games, but when he’s cold Romar needs to know when to give Ross or Suggs a call.

To his credit Wilcox seems to understand this, a credit to his young mind.

“I just want to become a more complete and better basketball player. I want to get stronger, work on my ball-handling, work on driving more instead of just being a spot up shooter. I just want to become an all-round better player.”

The UW seniors had a tough night against USC in a 62-60 loss pn Saturday, but the 80-73 win over UCLA on Thursday night had to have been satisfying given concerns over the way they all played in the loss last Sunday against WSU.

Gregg Bell of gohuskies.com did a nice feature on Overton, Holiday and “MBA” on Friday before the ‘SC game, their last ever at Hec-Ed as Huskies.

The theme of the article seemed to focus on whether or not anyone would cry like Pondexter did last year.

The UCLA game was one where Washington caught a little bit of luck to balance some of the bad breaks they have had a hard time dealing with this season. Wilcox scored 24 points, all in the 2nd half on blistering 7-8 from the field after half-time, including 4-5 three pointers. His 1st half performance was an unremarkable 0-2 from three.

Wilcox talked to the media about how he went with it when his shot heated up.

“It was good to see the ball go in the rim. After you’re missing, your confidence kind of drops. But as soon as you see the ball go in you kind of feel like you can make 10 in a row. That’s how it was.”

Take away that 2nd half performance of Wilcox and UW shot miserably at 15-53 from the field and 2-10 from three. The Dawgs were in a position to win the game because of solid defense that held the Bruins to 23-58 from the field. Bruin junior guard Jerime Anderson seemed to be dueling with Wilcox at times and finished 4-6 from three.

Take away Anderson’s performance outside the arc and the Bruins were 1-7 from three for the game. It was a grind it out, ugly game that coach Ben Howland has built his name and this year’s successful Bruin team on, but UW ground back and produced a better offensive weapon than the bullying Nelson and Smith who combined for 22 points and 24 boards.

Smith gave Wilcox a huge compliment after the game and gave credit where credit is due, despite exaggerating.

“The way he was shooting, he was like Ray Allen out there.”

Romar recognized his teams improved defensive effort over a poor performance in the crucial 2nd half against WSU the week before.

“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, but tonight in the second half we maintained our defensive focus and our overall focus and intensity and we were able to win a game in spite of not being able to put the ball in the basket the way we usually can.”

Overton was the best player on the floor overall for Washington, as he was against USC on Saturday. His defensive spark was the key to Washington’s runs and his smart play with the ball superior to much more hyped Thomas. Overton followed Wilcox in the scoring column for UW with 10 points.

Romar gave Overton credit after the game by saying, “Tonight Venoy was the VO we all know”.

Thomas scored nine points, but generally forced things and looked a lot less efficient than VO in half the minutes (30-15). “MBA” was not able to score efficiently against the Bruin bigs who successfully denied him looks and for some reason made him miss a lot of close in looks. Matt earned his All Pac-10 stripes though with 13 rebounds.

Bryan-Amaning fouled out with the game decided, late in the 2nd half. He shot a horrible 3-11 from the field. Sophomore post Aziz N’Diaye scored six points and grabbed eight boards in 26 minutes, but his 2-6 from the field was much more important that it sounds. Basically the game showcased horrible shooting by “MBA” and Aziz that boggled the mind.

Almost all of those attempts were from very close in and they looked so bad that it had to affect their team mates confidence in passing them the ball, even when open. Junior post Darnell Gant didn’t have much better looking stats at 2-6 from the field for five points, but if you had to pick one between he and Aziz, Gant looked better in 23 minutes.

Holiday had five points, six boards and five assists, despite an ugly 1-8 from the field. He also held Honeycutt to 0-6 from the field.

Despite it being such a grind it out, win ugly kind of game, the highlight reel on Youtube produced by the UW Athletic Department had some great moments.

Howland talked about Wilcox as the difference in the game, but he was really out coached by Romar. UCLA should have made an adjustment to try to focus on Wilcox sooner.

“It was a disappointing loss. We had a great opportunity to come on the road and win in a tough environment. Our defense was really good tonight with the exception of Wilcox.”

Gohuskies did a good game story, including video of the post game press conference with Romar, Overton, Holiday and Wilcox.

Romar gave some perspective on what C.J. accomplished, when he spoke to the media after the game.

“That’s a performance I’ll never forget. To me, that’s not just a freshman, but one of the greatest performances in the history of the program. You go back and look and how many players here at this school have scored 24 points in a half when it wasn’t a 50-point blowout, but a meaningful game like this. I don’t think there would be many.”

In the USC game on Saturday UW started out poorly and never recovered in a 62-60 loss that put their NCAA tournament hopes in jeopardy. In the last game of the year at Hec-Ed and senior night, Washington laid an egg after an encouraging effort against UCLA.

For this team it is one night on, one night off, as the WSU game the week before was equally vexing and painful for UW fans to watch. Dawg fans need to hope that their team can get a win on Thursday, because otherwise Selection Sunday could be a major disappointment. If they win on Thursday, I believe that they are in though, unless WSU goes on to win it all.

Thomas and Overton led the way against the Trojans with 16 and 15 a piece. Both started the game and Venoy was again better with the ball with four assists and no TO’s. Suggs had a decent game with 14 points, while “MBA” had an off game with 11 points and six boards. Holiday had another hollow 0-6 shooting night, but kicked in five boards and good defense.

Though UW put on another great comeback, after playing from behind all game, it was only to fall short. The Dawgs weren’t lucky, as they were in Los Angeles against the Trojans, when UW got big shots to go down and big smisses by ‘SC late. Again, all the highlights were captured by the UW Athletic Department in a Youtube clip.

Wilcox, Gant and N’Diaye all had forgettable games. Don Ruiz of the Morning News-Tribune’s headline read, “Good thing it didn’t matter”, based on UCLA clinching 2nd place by beating the Cougs on Saturday, but I beg to differ.

It did matter. Now, if UW loses to WSU in the Pac-10 tourney they are that much closer to being left out of the NCAA’s. A win over USC would have clinched an at-large bid for UW, regardless, but now they become part of a larger conversation in my opinion.

Overton put it well after the game and I hope that his words made an impression on his team mates. The Dawgs need to find a spark and show some commitment.

“There’s nothing really pressing. We’re just not doing it.”

WSU’s coach Ken Bone decided to drop Thompson’s suspension for a pot bust after last weeks win over USC on Thursday. He also said on Tuesday that Moore would play health allowing, after sustaining a sprained ankle also against ‘SC. If Holiday can’t play, UW is going to have a very tough time with Thompson.

Even with him, Thompson has deep-sixed the Dawgs this year. Things don’t look good for UW, but sometimes adversity brings out great performances from teams. Unfortunately, that has not happened consistently from this team, except for great performances against ‘Zona and UCLA.

UW fans should hope that their team can get as up for the Cougs, as they have the Bruins and ‘Cats. If Thompson is hot enough it won’t matter anyhow.

Venoy, “ripped the Huskies effort” according to Percy Allen after the USC game. I thought that Venoy said what should have been said, whether or not he was the right one to say it.

“I’m trying to play as hard as I can to try and help the team win games and tonight I think, not to speak bad about anyone else, but I played hard and there were just a few people out there playing hard with me. It’s got to be everybody. It’s got to be more than just three players playing hard. You’re going to make the three seniors mad when everybody’s not ready to play. They know what kind of time in the season it is. We preached this from day one that we got to handle our business in the regular season if you want to be playing in the postseason.”

Unfortunately for UW and Overton, all Venoy will be able to do is talk from the sidelines, along with Gaddy, another guy that seemed to stand behind his team when he tweeted on Wednesday.

“Media think they can break our team but it just brings us closer together… Our brotherhood gets Stronger.. We support one another”

It sounds like this UW team may have the heart to overcome this challenge, but the proof will be on the court on Thursday.

Husky fans can only do so much to support the team, other than yell from the stands or at the TV, but they can help Wilcox get recognition. ESPN included his 24-point 2nd half performance against UCLA in their contest for performance of the week and fans votes determine the outcome of the competition. Give Wilcox your vote, as he deserves it.

“MBA” and Holiday were both mentioned by draftexpress.com in a projection of the Pourtsmouth Invitational, a pre-draft camp that proved helpful to the careers of former Dawgs Jon Brockman and Nate Robinson. Overton was not mentioned.

Speaking of moral judgments, BYU sophomore post Brandon Davies (a longtime friend of Wilcox), was dismissed by the team for having pre-marital sex. Some UW fans had expressed hope that Davies would transfer to a less morally judgmental school, like say UW?

That is not likely to happen though as BYU AD and former Cal Bear head coach Tom Holmoe said on Friday that, “We’re doing everything we can to kind of come in and rescue him and get him back on track”. Everything will probably include a two year Mormon Mission, after which Davies will come back as much bigger and more mature and play ball at BYU.

Who knows though? The sinning may be so severe that Davies may never be able to “come back”, especially since he may have had sex, not only out of wedlock, but not even with his BYU girlfriend. Frathouse sports reported on Monday that, according to sources “close to the family” Davies got another woman pregnant.

Mekeli Wesley, a star BYU post from the late 90’s gave Davies some counsel, according to ESPN blogger Diamond Leung. Wesley had been through a remarkably similar situation when he played and also got the woman who is now his wife of 13 years pregnant with their first child.

It makes me wonder if Davies might be a better fit for UW. They sure could use a post player and he doesn’t sound like that bad of a guy. Not perfect, but no Rick Pitino or John Calipari.

Andy Katz of ESPN talked about the UW/WSU game on Thursday, as he previewed the conference tourneys.

“Washington-Washington State is the most intriguing match-up. The Huskies lost at home to Wazzu last week and then, after beating UCLA, fell to USC at home, too. Washington’s profile is thin and a third loss to Wazzu in the quarterfinals should cause some serious concern from the selection committee.”

John McGrath of the Morning News-Tribune gave UW a vote of confidence on Monday, though he may have less faith after the suspension of Overton.

For all my criticisms of Brewer’s piece on Overton, he wrote a very intelligent piece on what has gone wrong with UW’s season on Monday for the Times.

The last UW team to do better than Romar has done in his tenure at UW, for all his tribulations this season, was the Bob Houbregs led 1953 team that went to the Final Four. They lost in the first game, but won the consolation game, a practice that lasted well into my era. Bob Sherwin of sportspressnw did a nice story on Houbregs and his career on Tuesday.

Former Dawg Adrian Oliver transferred at the end of fall quarter in 2007. He has become a major scoring machine for San Jose State, but the jury remains out as to whether he made the right decision career-wise. Oliver took the time to write his memoirs, as it were, including a number of passages about his time at UW and what led to his decision to transfer.

WSU Notes

The Cougars were able to get an important win, in their quest to improve their NCAA tournament resume. by beating USC in Pullman on Thursday 85-77. Moore hurt his ankle after 7-minutes of play and never returned, missing the rest of the game and the UCLA game on Saturday.

Casto stepped up to the challenge of the stellar USC front line though for a game high 24 points and Thompson kicked in 22 on 9-10 from the free throw line. Junior guard Faisal Aden made up for the loss of Moore with 20 points off the bench. Casto also led the Cougs with 10 boards, as WSU out-boarded ‘SC in a key stat.

The good times were short lived though as Thompson was picked up after the game with under 2 grams of Marijuana in his car. He was immediately suspended after the arrest and would miss the UCLA game along with Moore.

His dad, former NBA journeyman post Mychal Thompson was pretty worked up about it in the media. On Friday Thompson said to 710-ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, “I can’t put into words how disappointed I am in my son”.

It was sad, to say that least that Thompson chose right before the last game of the regular season to do something this foolish, whatever you think of the pot laws, especially since a win over UCLA could have meant a lot to the Cougs post season chances.

Scout talked about Klay’s actions destroying WSU’s postseason on Friday.

I was impressed by the effort that the Cougs put up against UCLA on Saturday in a game that they should have won. The Bruins though ground it out, as they have done all Pac-10 season for a 58-54 overtime win. Sophomore post Brock Motum played a great game in leading the Cougs with 15 points.

Aden also kicked in 14, though he only shot 4-17 from the field and missed a key free throw late that probably would have won the game in regulation. What was most impressive to me was WSU’s team defense and overall hustle. They looked like a team that really wanted it more than the Bruins and more than the Huskies of late.

Thompson made a plea to the WSU fans to accept his apology, before the game, which many felt was a classy move. Bone told the media on Monday that he was hopeful for his team regardless of the shorthanded loss.

“Even though we lost the other day to UCLA, I still feel right now that if we were to get to the championship game, I feel we’d have a good chance of getting in.”

On Tuesday Bone told the media that Thompson would be able to play against UW on Thursday in the Pac-10 tourney and that he expected Reggie Moore to be also available.

Lunardi said on Tuesday that WSU had been elevated from “next four out” to “first four out”.

ASU Notes

The Sun Devils had a good weekend at home in Tempe to close out the regular season. They swept the Oregon schools, though OSU was down to six players because of a suspension of nine players for breaking team rules on the trip to the desert.

On Thursday it was a storybook game for ASU’s seniors, as senior guard Ty Abbott and senior wing Rihards Kuksiks each scored 22 in a 73-53 win. Senior guard Jamelle McMillan also scored 11. ASU was able to stay even with the Ducks on the boards 35-35, something they had struggled with during league play.

The overall key for the Sun Devils win was efficient defense, which led to the rebounding success and the overall domination of the Ducks. Scout did a piece that explained just how ASU got it done on the defensive end.

On Saturday ASU got a gift from the Beavers as coach Craig Robinson suspended all but six scholarship players, including only one guard in freshman shooting guard Roberto Nelson. The Sun Devils walked away with an 80-66 win on Senior day, as again the three seniors led the way. Abbott again scored 22, while Kuksiks scored 18 and McMillan 10.

Freshman guard Corey Hawkins scored 13 on 3-5 from three. It was a nice ending to a tough regular season, but coach Herb Sendek has a lot of talent to work with and the lessons learned this year by his young team should pay dividends. The addition of a great guard in Jahii Carson, plus hopefully some helpful big man additions should improve things.

On Wednesday ASU lost in the play-in game to Oregon 76-69, ending their season.

Lockett scored 22 points on 10-12 from the field, followed by McMillan and Kuksiks with 11 a piece. Lockett also led ASU on the boards with five. ASU will be back, but it may take two years to see them back near the top of the Pac-12.

‘Zona Notes

The ‘Cats took a huge step to a Pac-10 regular season title when they beat OSU 70-59 on Thursday in Tucson, on a night when UCLA lost to UW in Seattle. Sophomore guard Lamont Jones led ‘Zona with 17 points, while Williams was solid with 15 points and 12 boards. Sophomore post Solomon Hill and sophomore wing Kevin Parrom added 10 points a piece.

Though the Beavs out-rebounded the ‘Cats 31-23, ‘Zona took much better care of the ball and won the TO battle 22-8. The ‘Cats clinched a tie for the Pac-10 title and could clinch the outright title by beating the Ducks on Saturday and that’s what they did 90-82.

Junior guard Kyle Fogg led the way for ‘Zona with 20 points on 4-7 from three, followed by Hill and Williams with 14 a piece. Parrom chipped in 11 and senior wing Jamelle Horne scored 10 on senior day. The ‘Cats won the battle on the glass 30-22 against the smallish Ducks.

Cal Notes

The Bears finished their regular season with a win in Berkeley over crosstown rival Stanford 74-55. Tied with USC at 10-8 for 4th place in the conference, Montgomery really did deserve the coach of the year over Miller to do so well with so little. Crabbe led the way with 24 points, followed by junior post Harper Kamp with 20 on Saturday.

Senior post Markhuri Sanders-Frison scored 13 in a game that Jon Wilner of the Mercury News said was not as close as the score implied.

“From what I saw, which was all 40 minutes from press row, the Bears could have named their score. With the exception of the final minute or two of the first half and the opening minutes of the second, the Cardinal was little more than a punching bag.”

Cal got some bad news on the recruiting trail, when it was announced early in the week that 2011 JC guard commit De’End Parker switched his commitment to UCLA.

Stanford Notes

Stanford was embarrassed by Cal in Berkeley on Saturday 74-56. Green was the Cardinal’s one double figure scorer with 19 points. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was announced on californiawatch.org that Stanford athletes had been provided with a “list of ‘easy’ classes”.

With Stanford’s reputation as a top academic school being one of the main recruiting advantages that coach Johnny Dawkins is using to rebuild the program, this news can’t be viewed as not important.

On Wednesday in the play-in round of the Pac-10 tourney, Stanford put up a good fight, but were beaten by OSU 69-67. Green led all scorers with 25 points. Freshman guard Anthony Brown and freshman post Dwight Powell added 11 points a piece. It was a dead even game in which OSU just shot better, though Stanford almost closed that gap down the stretch.

At 15-16 the Cardinal’s season is likely over, but coach Dawkins’ great recruiting will bring them back stronger next year. I think that Stanford has to be considered a contender for an NCAA bid next season as they lose no one, have a balanced roster and gain another good class.

Oregon Notes

The Ducks didn’t start or finish the Pac-10 season well, but in the middle of league play they had a heck of a run. On Thursday at ASU, senior guard Jay-R Strowbridge led the way in a 73-53 loss. Junior guard Garrett Sim scored 10 points, while Catron struggled with only five points on 1-8 from the field.

Catron came back strong with 28 points, as did the Ducks, against ‘Zona on Saturday. Though they fell short in a 90-82 loss, they stayed in contention until the final stages of the game. Sim added 14, while junior guard Malcolm Armstead hit for 12 plus 11 assists.

Oregon beat ASU 76-69 to advance to meet UCLA on Thursday in Los Angeles in the 1st round of the Pac-10 tourney. Sophomore wing E.J. Singler led the Ducks with 22 points, followed by Armstead with 11 and Sim with 10. Catron came back to earth again with only nine points on 3-12 from the field and only four rebounds.

Junior post Tyrone Nared had a game leading nine boards, as ASU again lost the battle of the boards 31-27.

OSU Notes

The Beavers lost to the ‘Cats 70-59 in Tucson, but stayed reasonably competitive despite making way too many mistakes. Losing the TO battle 22-8 is hard to overcome, but OSU kept on fighting. Freshman post Devon Collier led the way for the Beavs with 12 points and eight boards, followed by sophomore post Joe Burton with 10 points.

In the Saturday game at ASU, the Beavers had five players suspended for breaking curfew. To make matters worse, almost all of them were guards. Nelson, who is more of a wing than a point guard was the lone back court player available, but he scored 34 points in a one man show.

Senior post Omari Johnson scored 17, while sophomore post Angus Brandt chipped in 11.

In the Pac-10 Tournament the Beavers got a huge win over Stanford 69-67 and will face 1st seeded ‘Zona on Thursday in LA. Sophomore Jared Cunningham led OSU with 24 points, followed by an outstanding performance from freshman post Devon Collier with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore post Joe Burton was a load with 14 boards to go with his seven points and freshman guard Ahmad Starks was red-hot early and finished with 15 points on 6-12 from the field. OSU will now face ‘Zona, who they have played well against over the last couple of years, in the 1st round of the Pac-10 Tourney on Thursday at 2;40 p.m. (PST).

UCLA Notes

Tied with ‘Zona going into the weekend, UCLA was hopeful that they could keep pace with the ‘Cats. By sweeping the Washington schools on the road, while ‘Zona somehow stumbled against arguably the easiest traveling pair of teams in the league in the Oregon schools, the Bruins could win the outright title.

It was not to happen, as Washington beat the Bruins on Thursday while ‘Zona beat the Beavs. For UCLA Anderson led the way with 16 points, followed by Lee with 13, Smith with 12 and Nelson with 10. Smith set a career high with a game leading 16 boards. For UCLA the difference in the game was coaching, as Howland didn’t adjust quick enough to the red-hot Wilcox.

On Friday the Bruins got good news as Parker, who had committed to Cal announced that he had flipped to UCLA.

The Bruin good times kept rolling in Pullman on Saturday as UCLA clinched 2nd place by beating an undermanned bunch of Cougs in overtime 58-54. it was a game that WSU really came close to winning despite being shorthanded. Nelson roughed his way to 23 points. Lee sustained a slight knee injury, while scoring 11, while Honeycutt and Smith scored 10 points a piece.

It was a great regular season for UCLA, as they executed a strong turn around from a dismal 14-18 season a year ago to win 22 games. Before Pac-10 play when the Bruins were having some difficulties in losing four straight non-league games, Howland told Los Angeles Daily News beat writer Jon Gold that if the Bruins could win 22 games he would give him a kiss.

True to his word, Howland kissed Gold in Pullman after the game on Saturday. Be careful what you promise there Ben. The Bruins also were not in any way the faster moving team this year that Howland promised 2011 guard signee Norman Powell they would be according to Powell in the San Diego papers after his commitment.

I wonder what Howland promised Powell he would do if they didn’t.

Lee was hurt, but an MRI revealed that it was only a small tear in the cartilage of his left knee. According to ESPN, Lee will play as much as he can in the Pac-10 tourney, depending on the pain.

USC Notes

The Trojans started out their trip to Washington on the wrong foot, losing to the Cougs 85-77 on Thursday, but rebounded against the Dawgs on Saturday avenging a home overtime loss to start Pac-10 play with a 62-60 win in Seattle. Against the Cougs it was Vucevic with 22 points and 11 boards, followed by Jones with 16 points and senior guard Donte Smith with 14.

Against the Dawgs it was junior guard Jio Fontan with 20 points, followed by Vucevic with 19 and 10 boards. Senior post Alex Stepheson dominated the paint against the Huskies with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Vucevic has been a double/double machine and clearly deserved the league player of the year award in my opinion.

‘SC beat UW on the glass at Hec-Ed 36-25 in that game’s key stat. Vucevic’s dad Borislav was a career pro in Europe and talked a good game to the LA Times as to why he also felt Nikola deserved the award. Nikola had a league leading 20 double/doubles, including eight in a row.

Williams, to his credit, even admitted it to azstarnet.com on Tuesday.

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