Moore: UW Huskies’ struggles entertaining for this Coug
While I was watching the Oregon-USC double-overtime basketball game Thursday night, the Pac-12 standings flashed on the screen and what stood out more than anything else was seeing the UW Huskies in last place.
After falling to Utah 67-66 in inexplicable fashion, Washington became the conference doormat at 2-5. I guess you could say they’re co-doormats with the Oregon State Beavers, who are also 2-5 and vastly undercutting expectations too.
Call ‘em the comeback Utes. 😏
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) January 24, 2020
This is a Washington team that beat Baylor in November, and Baylor is currently ranked No. 1 in the country. So you know the potential is there. But the Huskies are finding ways to lose on a weekly basis, and coach Mike Hopkins sounds beyond exasperated with his players. especially Jaden McDaniels, who picked up his fourth technical foul of the season against the Utes.
There have been a few times in the past when the Huskies have been in last place in football and basketball, but usually it wasn’t a surprise. The 2008 football season was an example of that – the Dawgs weren’t supposed to be very good and in fact were very bad, going 0-12. I would still contend that that Husky team should have gone 4-8 with the talent it had on the roster, but the players weren’t on the same page with their coach, Tyrone Willingham.
Since I’m a Coug and the Dawgs are our biggest rival – even though the Ducks are theirs – I enjoy Husky losses and get an even bigger kick out of it when all of the purple-and-goldsters are beside themselves trying to figure out what’s wrong with their heralded team.
I don’t blame them. Like most everyone else, I thought the Dawgs were a lock for the NCAA Tournament and looked like a Sweet Sixteen team. Now they don’t even look like they’ll get an NIT berth and might not even be invited to the CBI, the lowest-rent postseason tournament of all.
If I’m a Husky fan, I’ve gone from being really excited in the fall about the one-and-done kids, Isaiah Stewart and McDaniels, coming to my school to thinking it’s going to be yet another season where I’m wondering if one-and-done kids are even worth recruiting anymore.
Name a season when the Huskies had a one-and-done kid and it worked out really well. Go ahead, I’m waiting. I’ve probably forgotten someone that you could bring up, but as I’m sitting here at my keyboard, Spencer Hawes and Markelle Fultz come to mind. I used to give Hawes a hard time, reminding him that he’ll go the rest of his life having never beaten the Cougs since the Dawgs went 0-fer against Washington State in his only college season.
I think Spencer could have had the best comeback ever and asked me how much money I’ve earned playing basketball, but he never did.
And Fultz? I remember it feeling like the Huskies played better as a team when he was on the bench.
Of course we all know you need talented players to win, but sometimes I think it might be better to have a bunch of three-star guys who play together for three years than to get these dazzling five-star kids who are off to the NBA before you even had a chance to get to know them.
Hopkins must have thought he was sitting on a gold mine, but it’s turned into the toughest year of his head coaching career. And I don’t think you can just chalk it up to the loss of Quade Green earlier this month to academic ineligibility. Certainly it hurts to lose your starting point guard, but the Huskies’ problems seem to go deeper than that.
Meanwhile in Pullman, new coach Kyle Smith has assembled a lesser-talented team that swept the Oregon schools last weekend and is a surprising 3-4 in conference play thus far.
I know, I can hear you, 3-4 isn’t great, it’s not even good, but did you see the Cougs under Ernie Kent? Smith has pumped life and hope into the program.
How bad has it gotten for the Dawgs? Jon Wilner, the respected reporter from the San Jose Mercury News who covers the conference like no other, tweeted: “Washington = done. At some point, finding ways to lose exacts an emotional toll that cannot be overcome.” Wilner thinks that point was reached Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
I still suspect that Hopkins will turn his team around. There’s a chance the Huskies could benefit from their adversity, build some momentum, earn a 12 seed and do some damage in March Madness.
In the meantime, I’m gonna sit back and revel in the Husky angst over a season gone south.
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