Sunday, March 18, 2012 @ 11:03am
(Jason McCleary of leftcoastrecruiting.com contributed to this post)
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott weighed in Friday in ESPN regarding the state of the leagues much maligned Men's Basketball teams.
"I'm not concerned long-term. If we have five seasons like this one I'll feel differently. But I honestly feel like this is a blip. I keep hearing that we have strong recruits. I know we have great coaches. Next season is a game-changer in terms of exposure. I'm not really concerned about it."
This is well put. I won't go into greater detail. We'll have the entire off-season coming up soon enough to do that, but I'll take it one step further. The Pac-12 had a rough year, but there is a quality there, where things should have been better than they ended up when it came to NCAA at-large bids. How so? How about the Dawgs in and probably Oregon too? The NCAA committee uses a flawed process to chose at-large bids. The national media talked about how bad the league was and if the committee were a jury, there would have been a clear case for a mistrial because the jury was far too influenced by that and numbers games like "RPI" and "strength of schedule".
As I mentioned last week, time will show in my opinion that too many future NBA greats and great coaches were at the party for this type of result. Yes, they muffed, mishandled and muddled their way through, as if they were tempting fate,
but you can't tell me that the Huskies and the Ducks don't pass the eye test. Both UW and UO finished the season strong in conference, against these same teams that blew it in November and December, but had the ingredients to put together the goods in conference play. Colorado, who lost 80-63 to Baylor on Saturday after beating UNLV 68-64 on Thursday, was not the only one.
Cal was a team that did not have what they needed in the dance in a play-in game on Wednesday where they lost to South Florida badly 65-54, but this Bear team also deserved what they got. My problem is that the Dawgs and Ducks, were for the most part consistent in producing quality play on the court. The Pac-12 could not get out from under the weight of the RPI ratings that are defined by non-conference play. As I also mentioned last column, that is just the way it is, but it doesn't make it right. There is a need to put more emphasis on what a team actually looks like in March and the NCAA committee is just not capable.
They are a bunch of suits, athletic directors, executives, etc. They are not good judges of basketball talent. If you want the best competition in the March tournament, you should pick the teams that are the best in March. Supposedly, the last stages of the season are taken into a account, but if that were the case, why are UW and Oregon not in? Both teams are playing well right now and on Sunday we will see if the Dawgs and Ducks will face each other in Seattle WA for a game which will decide who goes to NYC to the NIT Final Four. The Ducks face Iowa on Sunday in Eugene after demolishing an LSU team that gave Kentucky a scare in the SEC Tourney 96-76 on Tuesday.
I know it's not much, with the last league team in the Buffs out in their 2nd game, but this NIT is starting to look like a scenario that actually could serve as some form of Pac-12 retribution, at least something for the Dawgs to point to as
reasoning that they should have had a shot at it. Stanford is also in the running after a 76-65 win over Cleveland State on Tuesday. It would be great to see two Pac-12 squads in NYC, like there was last year when WSU and Colorado played in Madison Square Garden. The Cougs even beat San Francisco 89-75, while Oregon State beat Western Illinois 80-59 on Tuesday in the CBI. Perhaps a Pac-12 team could win the CBI as has been the case the last two years, with Oregon winning last year and OSU the year before.
The Cardinal will face Illinois State on Monday, with the winner needing one win to get to Madison Square Garden. It is not great bragging rights, with no team in the Big Dance and a few others doing well in the NIT and CBI, but the Pac-12 has a chance to at least show that (like clockwork), there was more quality than the "experts" thought once again. It seems to happen every year that the Pac-12 is under valued on Selection Sunday, but out performs those decisions in the post season. This year isn't the best one in regards to the NCAA tourney, but it might have been if UW and/or Oregon were allowed to compete. The league also consistently proves it's worth on NBA draft night and even more so when those picks and others not chosen perform better than those same "experts" predicted.
The "Experts" are not that expert, rather they live so far away that they don't have a very good grip on what is going on in Pac-12 country. That said, this season the conference did literally everything in it's powers to maintain that curtain of mystique. The game is played by rules and over time the games rules have changed to make improvements. The way that the teams are chosen in March needs to change again as well. There needs to be people on that committee that can articulate to the rest why teams like UW and Oregon have much more talent and at this point are much more ready to perform at a high level than others.
How can you leave the Pac-12 regular season title winner and the Duck team that finished one game behind them out, because of stumbles to teams in the non-conference season. Of those eight OOC stumbles, 7-8 were against NCAA Tournament teams, the eighth being UW's OT loss at Nevada who won their league, lost in the conference tourney and are also still in the NIT. Yes, UW and Oregon should have won some of those eight games, but if you are picking the best teams for at-large bids, shouldn't you actually do that. I won't go team to team to make comparisons, but both of those teams would beat a large number of squads that received at-large bids and it's not even close.
The NCAA will argue that the perception of the league didn't play a part, but RPI does. I think that both do and it needs to change. Somebody in those meetings needs to be able to understand the concept that a team with as much talent as UW and with a combination of talent and experience (but who were cobbled together a lot from players who haven't played on the same team long) as Oregon are just better attractions and better on the court. So I guess the NCAA tourney's loss is the NIT's gain, is all that can be said at this point. John McGrath of thenewstribune.com on Monday took the opposing view to mine, making the case that the Dawgs got what they deserved and did a decent job of airing that point, but I just don't agree. Romar admitted to the media on Thursday that the situation was the fault of the way the teams performed, but that it was more of a blip, as Scott had termed it and that the league will be back strong in his opinion.
"I hate to be redundant, but we made our bed as a conference and we're going to continue to hear those criticisms until next season comes around and we do something about it, which I think we will. Every now and again, that's going to happen."
The snub was no surprise to many, but in my opinion it was not only undeserved, but stupid basketball evaluation. This is the same type of evaluation that makes people think that a kid from a small town who can score 30 points per game is going to be better in college than a much faster, stronger and longer kid from a much tougher league that is just an old fashioned mismatch. Freshman guard Tony Wroten, sophomore guards Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox and junior guard Abdul Gaddy (who missed the "real" part of last year, just turned 20 and is more like a sophomore) are young and were drastically inconsistent before Pac-12 play, but they were able to win the league race. They are all very likely NBA players to one degree or another.
If they had not pulled it together to be able to achieve what they did this year, I'd say fine McGrath you are correct. They did not however. They became a formidable team, one good enough to beat teams with a number of future NBA players of their own. Maybe not as many, but plenty and that is another reason why UW were unfairly snubbed by the NCAA committee. A blog post from kcpelton.wordpress.com on Monday elaborated on this point well. UW was one of many teams with talent and potential in the Pac-12, despite the leagues down cycle and bad luck (attrition, defectors, etc.) and the coaches and more importantly the players won that league.
Last Sunday after the field was released, Yahoo listed UW 2nd on it's "list of biggest NCAA tournament snubs", pointing out that Cal, who finished behind them in the conference race got an at-large bid, but they didn't. Cal should have been
in, but so should have UW and Oregon, who finished alongside the Bears at 13-5. Cal was a good team, that met UW on a night when Wilcox was out and UW shot horribly from three, an area that C.J. is usually the last line of defense for UW. Pac-12 Player of the Year Jorge Gutierrez did a great job of keeping the ball away from Ross, the other capable three point threat, and Cal's fantastic coach Mike Montgomery put together a game plan that worked well enough to beat UW at home. That's a good argument, if UW finished tied with Cal, but they didn't.
Coach Lorenzo Romar won the conference coach of the year because he took this young group of talented but inconsistent kids and won more games than anyone else, including 6-3 on the road. Winning on the road is never easy and nearly impossible with young players and that is exactly what Romar did. Anyone with a pair of glasses, the vision of Mr. Magoo and any kind of basketball knowledge, could see that UW both had the talent (including a seven foot junior defensive/rebounding specialist Aziz N'Diaye and a senior team leader in post Darnell Gant) and the coaching to bring more than their share of "power" to the big dance. Romar agreed with me, but pointed out to the media on Sunday that even with the way the rules are, UW just seemed to blow games at the worst time.
"We are definitely one of the best 68 teams in country, but our numbers didn’t bare that to the selection committee. We had 10 losses and any one of those losses turns into a win and we are in.”
That's fine Lorenzo, but what about the magnificent win at Arizona where the Dawgs took the 'Cats best punches and were the last men standing? What about those other five Pac-12 road wins? Yes the league was down, but that is hard to do with such a young team. Based on winning all but the Cal game at home and those six road games in Pac-12 play, UW proved to me that they were more than the best team in a down year. They were scary, for such a young team, when they stepped up and played to their ability. Romar got them to do that more often than any other team and for that there is no reason that they shouldn't have been selected by the committee.
But that committee was so far off that they weren't even considering UW in the final six, if Xavier had beaten St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic-10 final. According to NCAA interim vice president Greg Shaheen, as reported by ESPN last Sunday, "Six teams -- Drexel, Miami (Fla.), Oral Roberts, Seton Hall, Mississippi State and Nevada -- would have been put up for a vote if Xavier had won the game". Additionally, "Washington's lack of top 50 wins and the Pac-12 tournament loss to Oregon State hurt the Huskies' chances at admission" according to Shaheen. Yes, the loss to OSU in the Pac-12 tourney was a blunder, but they beat the Beavers
twice during the regular season, including on the road. Doesn't that count for more?
I guess UW just tempted fate by performing in a way that any qualified analyst of basketball can see is superior, but daring those that are not (the NCAA committee and the numbers geeks that have created the RPI phenomenon) to see it otherwise. What is more to the point is that these fools were probably not paying attention to much else than the Pac-12 tourney, as when most basketball people are watching conference play, they are addressing other issues. These folks are not hoops experts. Because of the business nature of the game, my guess is that the decision has been made to put them in charge of the decision making. It's almost as bad as putting Mr. Magoo in a referee’s uniform, which if there wasn't a cartoon done on that subject in the 1960's, there should have been.
Perhaps that is weirdly another of the accomplishments of this year's UW team. On Sunday Art Thiel of sportspressnw.com talked about how the Dawgs had "Made history the wrong way". The loss to the Beavers did them in, but it really shouldn't
have. The system is broken. Eamonn Brennan of ESPN said that "reason won out, tradition lost, and that's a good thing all around", while explaining UW's dance card snub. That reasoning was explained by Brennan as "non-conference performance matters, that conference record is a nonstarter, that teams are evaluated individually on standardized criteria".
The problem is that the team that plays in the NCAA tournament is the team that plays in February-March, much more than the one who plays in November-December. Yes, they stuck with the rules, but the rules are wrong. I think that UW suffered a let down when they clinched the out right title and underestimated the amount of focus that it took to beat teams like the Beavs on the road in Pac-12 play. That said, OOC play and the conference tourney should not define a team, without taking into account league play, which for most of the teams nationally defines what they are more than anything.
When you talk about a team from 10-20 years ago, what are they judged by? It is either, they finished so and so in their conference or they did so and so in the NCAA tournament (if given that chance). That is because winning a league is more
valuable of an achievement than whether they stumble or get hot in the conference tourney. If not, why have league play? One way to fix this problem without retooling the NCAA committee, would be to make the current 8-game play-in format into a huge 64 team event with a 96 team tournament. On Tuesday Husky Haul discussed that idea, which I have favored. I say get rid of the weak conference tourney winners or weak conference representatives before the tourney kicks to 64 teams. So what if in the first week many will have to play three games. Keep the conference tourneys, as they provide a chance for teams that are down in the standings but capable at the end of the year when it counts. We are living in the present, aren't we?
Sunday, March 11, 2012 @ 1:08pm
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.
Sunday, March 11, 2012 @ 1:04pm
The Dawgs have done a lot of good things this season, but with not enough margin of error to not be sweating bullets on selection Sunday. At 21-10, the Huskies are in my opinion worthy of an NCAA at-large bid, despite their 86-84 loss on Thursday to Oregon State in the Pac-12 tourney.
Never mind that Freshman guard Tony Wroten scored a UW freshman record 29 points, the loss was potentially devastating to the Huskies season. Sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox scored 16, followed by sophomore guard Terrence Ross with 15 and junior guard Abdul Gaddy with an impressive 13 to go with six assists, but the stats were the last thing to refer to when this game comes to mind.
Frankly, the loss to UCLA was right in character with what this year's team does, as I explained in my last column here. UW split weekend trips on the road, which is a winning formula in any conference race, except for finding the competitive juice to sweep in Arizona and got a little luck as well to beat WSU in Pullman on the backs of a slew of junior Coug post Brock Motum's missed free throws.
By winning all but one league home game and a reasonable to expect road loss by Cal to Stanford, the Dawgs won the league by one game. That in itself should get them an at-large bid. I feel that the Pac-12, probably more than any other league, plays much better and prepares better all year (recruiting, etc.) towards competing against one another.
The league does a very poor job generally of winning games in November and December against teams that it should beat, picks up bad losses by the droves and barely seem to get it up for big name opponents.
Lawrence Mitchell of Husky Haul did a nice job of pointing out that after the foibles of the fall, UW went 16-4 and put a solid performance together, going into the OSU game. Unfortunately that late season gaffe came at a very inopportune time and there lies the the central question for this year's UW team. Is their body of work enough?
Skeptics would argue that all teams improve as the year goes on, but my opinion is that over time, Pac-12 teams do so at a much higher rate than the national average. It's just the eye test. Who looks better on the court. The Pac-12 has been able to prove it by outperforming their projected success in the post season. On Saturday seattle.sbnation.com ran an interesting piece which debated the eye test question intelligently.
Last year it was Arizona coming within an eyelash of beating eventual champ UConn in the elite-8. 'Zona was a team that Washington beat in the final of Pac-10 tourney and beat 2/3 times. UW was shackled with having to go to Charlotte NC to face Georgia, who they beat and then North Carolina who used a full house of fans in their home state and more than a little home cookin' from the refs to barely squeak out a win. I would argue that UConn, VCU, Butler and Kentucky, all of the Final-Four would have lost that game 4-5 times.
Speaking of the east coast Huskies, UW will play UConn for a home and home. On a local radio show on Tuesday, UW assistant coach Jim Shaw said that UW will play at UConn in late 2012 and come to Montlake for a date in the next season (2013-14). That will be the continuation of a rivalry that has yielded two of the worst losses in UW history, in the 1997 Sweet-16, where Richard Hamilton beat the Dawgs on a last second shot and in 2006 where UW had control of the game and made a number of blunders to allow UConn to get into overtime where they won it. An emotional time will be had for all I'm sure.
But in 2011, USC lost in the play-in game to eventual Final Four team VCU and the Trojans actually fared better than some very big name teams that the Rams beat to get there. UCLA received a brutal draw, having to face powerful Florida in the 2nd round, who went on to lose in overtime to eventual runner-up Butler. The Bruins played the Gators tough and were definitely in that game until the last minutes.
In 2010-11 Cal's Mike Montgomery took a team that had lost four senior starters that had led them in every way imaginable and were able to squeeze out an NIT run, where they lost in the 2nd round to eventual NIT Final Four team Colorado. The Buffs performed a similar feat this season by losing a lottery pick in Alec Burks, the schools all-time scoring co-leader (that's a neat trick to pull off) in Cory Higgins and others, to find themselves in Saturday's Pac-12 conference final.
How can teams lose so much and turn around and do so well? It's coaching folks, plain and simple. Coaching is a lot more than in game strategy. It's not just getting big time recruits with five stars next to their name and navigating a host of handlers, agents and others. It's talent evaluation and preparation.
Getting the players that you can, to fit your system and preparing them to perform roles in a team concept. Montgomery and the Buffs' Tad Boyle (who nearly won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year as a result) have done great jobs and by the end of December and more importantly in March have teams that are just about as good as they can be, based on what they have to work with.
In 2010-11, Ken Bone of WSU, who also does a great job, got his Cougs to the NIT Final Four, along with Boyle. That's not all, as Oregon's Dana Altman took a team that had been literally turned upside down to the CBI title. There are too many great coaches, that proved in my opinion last season alone, that they know how to get a team ready for March Madness. The problem is that they have to play each other and only one can win the conference race.
UW Coach Lorenzo Romar won COY this year, because he beat teams that were playing very well in league play. He won it because he took a team with 1.2 years experience on average, 2nd lowest on the conference. Yes, his critics (mostly fans of teams that are jealous) will weigh that he has a number of guys with NBA potential to work with and they are right, but that doesn't tell the story.
Arizona had a much higher ranked recruiting class than UW in 2011 and UW swept them. According to Rivals on June 10th 2011, the 'Cats were the 4th best class in the nation compared to UW at 20th, Oregon at 21st, followed by ASU and the Buffs (both unranked).
Oregon lost 5-star Jabari Brown, ASU lost an important piece for them in Jahii Carson, while in retrospect the Buffs pair of freshman guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker made up a class that probably performed better than Arizona's overall, at least as pure freshmen.
That's coaching to make good decisions on talent evaluation, not only from the standpoint of talent, but personality, academics and character. Romar did a better job of that than anyone in the Pac-12 this season as well. The problem for the Dawgs is that when they clinched at least a share of the league title by beating USC, this young group seemed to be satisfied.
On Monday after UW won the out right title, with Cal's loss at Stanford, Romar said to the media about getting an at-large bid, "You win the Pac-12 outright; that still seems hard to imagine that not being good enough, but we're just going to go as far as we go and let the chips fall as they may".
He followed that with the statement, "That’s not how we are going to approach this tournament" adding "We are going there to win it".
Romar even stuck with the notion after the OSU loss stating "I would think the Pac-12 champion would be able to find a place in the NCAA tournament", but backtracked a bit the next day
The problem here is that the knee jerk reaction of his first comment reveals body language that in my opinion effects the team. I agree with Lorenzo and I would think that UW fans would feel very satisfied last Monday, but I am not the UW head coach. Perhaps Romar will learn to measure his enthusiasm in this type of situation in the future. It seemed that he reconsidered the situation a bit when he met with the press on Tuesday when he spoke to the media.
"We need to win some games. I don't think we're a slam dunk for the (NCAA) Tournament. That's how we felt going in the last two years. I'm definitely not saying, 'Look out Pac-12, here we come!' This is a tough, tough tournament. It's going to be very difficult, starting with our first game. I don't know that I can just say that on paper in terms of wins and losses we are the No. 1 seed, but beyond that you have to go play the game. It doesn't mean anything."
Wroten also said the right things on Tuesday to the media.
"We’re never satisfied, even if we are a lock in the NCAA Tournament. We got to play like we got to win or we’re not in. We’re going to take it as we got to win every game."
They talked the talk, but in games against UCLA and OSU, the Dawgs just didn't walk the walk. They didn't maintain their edge when it counted down the stretch, as they had in wins that got them to that perch. They had problems in those two games maintaining their effort, playing as if they could turn it on when they wanted to and their body language said to me that the situation against OSU was not as dire as it indeed was.
Perhaps the Dawgs were reading their press clippings a bit too much, as Gregg Bell of gohuskies.com, among others waxed early in the week about which Dawg was going to be this year's hero, as Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas had in the previous two years, as opposed to how easy it would be for a first round loss to put the Dawgs on the outside of the bubble.
Speaking of Thomas, he was the subject of an AP feature which pointed out how he is turning heads very early in his NBA career on Thursday.
Were the Dawgs problems in the last two games coaching, or is that just the inexperience shining through when you least want it to? Some blame has to go on the UW staff, but what happened is more about the type of drills that they set up to teach FT's, than in mental game preparation, reading too many puff pieces or press conference gaffs.
UW did all that it had to do to be in position to beat both the Bruins and the Beavers and looked like the better team as late as the latter stages of the game, but couldn't finish in either. Against the Bruins it was taking care of the ball and getting defensive boards, as it had shown all year it was capable of doing. That said, UCLA did a great job in those areas and the loss to the Bruins is not the problem to me.
Romar said on Sunday after the Cal loss to Stanford that his team played well against UCLA, despite the loss, as if he was satisfied with the progress.
"We had some lapses with not taking care of the ball and we had some lapses on defense. But overall, we've gotten a lot better than we were earlier in the season."
I think that the way UW played against the Bruins was commendable, but a loss is still a loss. If Lorenzo was satisfied, then he may not have stressed how important it was for the Dawgs to improve going into the Pac-12 tourney. Perhaps he did, but his teams fate is just what it was. A team that was too young to really finish the job like veterans.
I believe that this year's Dawgs basically overachieved by winning the outright title and couldn't handle success well, a classic trait of a young team, regardless of talent level. Senior post Darnell Gant did a good job of leading this immature group, as it's only true veteran, but he (like the whole team) was just not focused enough to finish the job.
Percy Allen of the Seattle Times put it well on Thursday, when he summarized the UW season as a year of "lost opportunities", but I feel that this team created those opportunities or more appropriately expectations, but looking more as if they were capable of playing above their heads than anything else, including the notion that the league was so weak.
Against the Beavers it was just FT's, as UW had been on the other side of in Pullman, a somewhat cruel but telling twist of fate.
It was a close race for supremacy in the Pac-12 in 2012 and it's still not over, until the NCAA committee decides and even beyond that, as we see how the conference does in the postseason to make final evaluations. Some would even argue and rightly so that the final assemblage of the recruiting classes of 2012 also weigh into that and the spring signing period in April is where a lot of that (but not all) will be settled.
Aside from all of the speculation from the various experts about who the NCAA will chose, the committee alone will decide it. UW should be in the dance, as they won the conference race, but the stumble against OSU certainly put them in jeopardy and it was not unlike a lot of what I've come to expect from this team.
Saturday, March 3, 2012 @ 10:15pm
Against USC the Dawgs asserted themselves often and early. During the week, UW appeared focused on the task at hand. Gant said, "This is our moment, right now" and against 'SC the Huskies didn't play like they were looking ahead. After the win
Darnell foreshadowed as to who would be the new leader next season, as he talked about how they were able to stay business-like against 'SC.
"Me and (Abdul) Gaddy kept stressing this was a business trip. We wanted to make sure the guys were in line. There were no cool jackets. Nothing was going to be handed to us, we needed to take it."
Ross led UW with 18, followed by Gant's 14, then a smart 12 from Gaddy. Wroten had an off game with only eight points, but stood tall to grab eight boards, along with his six assists. Gaddy also dished five. It was just a methodical and well executed drubbing by a much better team. The Dawgs didn't play down, stayed healthy and gave the reserves some PT.
Everyone on the Husky bench logged minutes, except for walk-on Alex Wegner. Only senior walk-on post Brendan Sherrer did not log a point or a rebound in a team low two minutes. For a game that determined at least the co-championship it was
remarkably under the radar. The podcast of the game is archived at usctrojans.com, for fans that want to preserve this historic Husky Basketball moment that wasn't even televised live.
It says something about the type of success that Romar has had at UW that so little was made of this championship. Perhaps the Dawgs wanted to save the celebration for later, but it is hard to believe that even the fans at this point
weren't more celebratory.
The 'SC game was also somewhat overshadowed by the huge feature in sportsillustrated.cnn.com on Wednesday, which exposed drug use, abusive behavior and more by coach Ben Howland and former star post Reeves Nelson, as well as irresponsible behavior by a number of current and former UCLA players.
It also served as an analysis as to how the Bruins have gone from three straight Final Fours to mediocrity, at least in comparison to what is expected from the storied UCLA of John Wooden fame and the great legacy he left that has been
perpetuated by many high level talents since his retirement.
UCLA has had top level recruiting under Howland, but that has been the norm for the 35+ years after Wooden, not to mention John's huge list of talents, including the best player in the history of the game, according to some in Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar).
Howland came in a did a very good job early in his tenure in getting guys that fit his system. As the success came to him he strayed from the kind of puzzle pieces to an obvious attempt in my opinion to take all of the top players, regardless to his style.
That has not worked so well, as the well put together piece by the Pulitzer prize winning George Dohrmann fleshes out in cold detail. Dohrmann was careful to substantiate his findings in the article and clearly established that Howland was
guilty of favoring his stars, when it came to handing out discipline, as well as other instances of poor behavior that I believe the article actually understated.
I have been ridiculed by UCLA fans and I believe some in the business for doing less formal reports on the activities surrounding the Bruin program over the past few years. I doubt that many of them that did so will recognize that, but let me also say that the Bruins should not feel safe that this article is all that they will have to defend.
I feel that there is more to this story involving much greater misdeeds involving NCAA violations and corruption involving among others adidas and current and former Bruin players. Follow me at huskydigest.com for more in-dept coverage of this side to the Ben Howland/UCLA story, as it unfolds.
The media frenzy didn't hurt the teams ability to play well, as the Bruins beat the first place Dawgs after steamrolling on Thursday the plummeting Cougs. After a story like that hit the news stands and the internet, there was obviously going to be a firestorm.
On Wednesday AP covered the story in a summary feature after Howland deflected questions but looked perturbed at his usual Tuesday press meeting. Dohrmann appeared on the Dan Patrick show on Wednesday where he fleshed the story out a bit more and ESPN covered it as well on Wednesday, as did businessinsider.com.
UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero told the LA Times on Wednesday that he would not be taking action to fire, penalize or suspend Howland, but that he would have to look into a bit more to feel that the matter is behind him.
"Before I comment on the long-term future, those (due diligence issues) have to be looked at."
It all happens at once I guess as CBS reported on Wednesday that the top player in the 2012 class, who many feel was a Bruin lean in Shabazz Muhammad may face eligibility issues, according to the NCAA, for questionable benefits that involve
The media analysts came in swinging on Thursday as Pat Forde of Yahoo said that Howland "appears to have lost his way", Bruin alums went on the defensive. Marques Johnson of Fox Sports gave his two cents in an article that also attempted to soften the blow of the article by saying that it is not fair to Howland to hold him to the standards set by Wooden. My thought is then, why did Howland do everything that he could to align his program to Wooden? Thursday in the LA Times, Johnson cited LSD use by Jabbar to point out that the misbehavior is not completely on Howland. I agree with that, but as I mentioned, I believe there is also more to the story that does involve Howland.
On Wednesday Yahoo already had a blog post up on former UCLA players sticking up for Ben. Reeves Nelson was one of the primary focuses of the article and his hometown paper in Modesto ran a feature on the piece on it, including shocked reactions from Nelson, on Wednesday. Later that day, the deadspin.com reported that Nelson ha already "Lawered up" and the LA Times ran an analysis piece stating that the story was "no surprise". ESPN also ran a feature Friday, with quotes from Nelson saying that the article misrepresented him. By Friday NBC News did a live interview with Nelson.
But on game day against UW, the Bruins played very well. Wilcox was red hot, hitting 9-12 from the field and 4-6 from three to score 22 points to lead all scorers, but he missed some chances late when they would have really helped and the
Bruins did a much better job keeping him under control in the latter stages of the game. To C.J.'s credit he stayed very disciplined in his shot selection and didn't force anything when it wasn't there.
Ross scored 18 points in impressive fashion as usual, coming into the game red-hot. His five turnovers though, most of them late and because of Lamb, were a big part of UW's demise. Wroten added 14, with five assists, but contributed to the
Dawgs unraveling late with a couple TO's of his own. Gaddy logged 12 assists, but like Wilcox, the Bruins were able to slow him as the game progressed. Abdul also had a poor shooting night, going 1-7 from the field which didn't help, while Bruin senior Lazeric Jones had a very good night with 20 points, most of them when Gaddy was on him. Romar called Gaddy's performance with the 12 assists "masterful" after the game though and it certainly was something for him to build on.
Aziz was slowed with foul trouble, though he did log 22 minutes, scored seven points and grabbed six boards. Gant for all of the focus on his late misses, was the glue that held UW's defense of UCLA's huge and talented front line from doing
more damage, as he played 37 minutes of smart interior play.
Freshman posts Shawn Kemp Jr., Desmond Simmons and Austin Seferian-Jenkins chipped in 13 combined post minutes, but neither did much to push them staying longer. Overall it was a tough loss for UW, but certainly not a huge regression.They just didn't have the killer instinct when it came to finishing the game as a team. Now we'll see if they can get it back for the post season.
Post season conference awards are coming this week and after UW held first place all alone this past week, a number of folks were predicting good things for some Dawgs. Drew Schiller on his weekly Pac-12 official Podcast discussed the candidates intelligently on Tuesday.
On Wednesday ESPN Pac-12 blogger Eamonn Brennan gave the nod to Tony Wroten for league Player of the Year and Colorado's Tad Boyle as Coach of the Year. On Thursday thenewstribune.com asserted that the award would come down to Gutierrez, Ross and Wroten, depending on who won over the weekend. It included comments from Romar and UW players.
Is UW on the bubble? I think so, but a Stanford win on Sunday will ease that concern. If UW loses it's first game in the Pac-12 tourney and at-large bids get popped by Cinderellas in conference tourney's, the Dawgs could easily be in trouble
all of a sudden. Perhaps the talk should have been steered away from postseason honors and more on UCLA. If it is deserved, others will do the talking, as the NCAA spoke loudly on Wednesday by choosing Wroten as one of the 30 Naismith finalists.
On Tuesday Bud Withers of the Seattle Times wondered if the league's public image could steer as many as four teams in, but the loss by UW to UCLA can't help the overall perception of the conference as a power. Or can it? is UCLA just another team that has strong talent, has been through tough times, but is capable of stepping up?
I think that history will show that the PaC-12 has a lot of talent that will go on to do great things in the future and if the league does get the benefit of the doubt by the committee, I doubt that they will under perform in the dance. A feature from thenewstribune.com on Saturday, discussing the Dawgs potential dance card, included a quote from Romar (which I thought was also a bit premature on Lorenzo's part). Romar's press conference on Tuesday was overall very worth
All of that though is nit-picky, as Lorenzo has done such a great job this year and in general at UW. On Wednesday Gregg Bell of gohuskies.com ran a nice feature that pointed out a number of obvious and some not-so obvious positives about the
program that Romar didn't build on his own, but has done a wonderful job of stewarding.
Romar received a gift when he came to UW, as former coach Bob Bender had succeeded in turning a corner in repairing local recruiting ties and the confidence of the local hoops community to some degree. Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Mike Jensen and Will Conroy were the cornerstones of the house that Lorenzo built, but he has long since ended any speculation that he has on his own done an incredible job.
The story of Roy is also a great success, except for the tragedy of his career ending knee injury. The Oregonian though reported on Tuesday that there are rumors coming from Europe that Roy is attempting a comeback. Jamal Crawford said in the piece however that, there was not much of substance there.
"I talked to him two days ago and he didn't say anything about coming back. I mean he's kicked the idea around before. But he didn't say anything like it was for sure or anything."
I'm sure that on some level Roy will return to the game, much more likely in coaching. His love for it is way too strong. That is pretty obvious if you've followed his career with UW, let alone to dedication and focus that he showed to give the NBA everything he had.
Saturday, March 3, 2012 @ 10:10pm
The Huskies, true to form this season, were able to gain a split on a road trip in the Pac-12. The dominant 80-58 win at USC on Thursday was expected, but then so was the heartbreaking 75-69 loss at UCLA on Saturday by Vegas odds makers, who
picked the Bruins by five points. The game was exciting, as the YouTube highlight reel demonstrates.
Talking about what you thought going into a game after it's over is pretty weak sauce, but I was also feeling the Bruins in this one. I was hoping for another break through performance from the Dawgs, but their form on the road has been very
Win one (the easy one) lose (the tough) one, except against Arizona where they seemed to have had enough motivation to break that mold. The other side of that story is that the Dawgs win every game at home. This did not happen this season,
also (along with the Arizona sweep) in one instance.
In the Cal game in Seattle, Husky senior post Darnell Gant missed a wide open three on a nice assist from junior guard Abdul Gaddy. Had he made it at the buzzer and sent the game into overtime, perhaps UW would have already clinched the out
right Pac-12 title, instead of waiting until Sunday to see if Cal can beat Stanford in Palo Alto CA or not at 2:30 p.m. (PST).
Darnell went 0-9 from the field and 0-6 from three against Cal, which brought armchair critics to question whether he should have taken the shot. Sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox, the Dawgs best 3-point shooter was not available that day with
his femur injury. Sophomore guard Terrence Ross was the domain of the best defender in the conference in senior Bear guard Jorge Gutierrez, who was not likely to yield a good look.
The pick and pop play at the top of the key, with the ball in Gaddy's hands was a very good call against Cal on that January Thursday night. Either Gaddy, who is the other decent 3-ball sticker along with Wilcox, Ross and Gant, gets the open three to tie, Ross somehow breaks free and Gaddy, who is the best assist man gets him a look, or Gant gets the shot and beats the odds after missing everything all day and is the hero.
The way it ended up was Darnell missing the shot, but he bounced back. Gant was an integral part, especially as a team leader, defender and rebounder, but also as a key scorer in places, as the Huskies went on after the Cal loss to win 10-11 leading up to the loss on Saturday against UCLA.
In a blow out win over Stanford, the next game after the Cal loss, it was Darnell keeping his chin up with 17 points and seven boards off the bench. In the come back win over UCLA at Hec Ed it was Gant with 12 points and an inspired defensive
effort down the stretch.
In wins at home against 'Zona and one the road against WSU it was Darnell with outstanding defensive efforts against 'Zona top 'Cat junior post Solomon Hill and explosive WSU go-to junior post Brock Motum. In the USC game on Thursday, Gant was solid in keeping 'SC at arms length with 14 points on 6-8 from the field and 2-3 from three, with nine boards.
I said when this season started and I've repeated it ad nausea. When Gant plays a good game, UW is hard to beat. Gant didn't play a horrible game against UCLA, but he just didn't have it shooting the long ball. If Darnell has an average shooting night from behind the arc against Cal in Seattle and UCLA in Los Angeles, UW is probably on top of the Pac-12 right now by 2 1/2 games going into the games on Sunday.
Since he didn't where are they? They are still on top of the Pac-12 by 1/2 a game, with as chance to be out right champ. This year's UW team has done amazing things, after losing a starting five in current NBA celebrity Isaiah Thomas, Matthew
Bryan-Amaning (who is ripping up Europe and will likely get a a shot at the NBA, if he chooses to take one), Justin Holiday (another Euro success story), Scott Suggs (the top shooter that would have been there when Wilcox had his health issues) and a player that always provided win after win with his fierce competitiveness in Venoy Overton.
You lose all of that and bring back literally no top producers, only back-ups, spot starters and freshman and you are at least Pac-12 co-champs? How is that not a tremendous accomplishment?. It hurt for UW fans to let the win over UCLA slip
away on a somber Saturday in March, but coach Lorenzo Romar should be highly commended for being able to put a squad together with this much discipline and consistency from so many unproven players.
Yes, there are NBA guys on this team, but getting a team to the top with basically all first and second year players, except Gant is an amazing feat. Gaddy is a junior, but besides being one of the youngest in his class nationally, this is really the 2nd full season at the D1 level. Center Aziz N'Diaye is a junior, but this is his 2nd season at D1. Ditto Ross and Wilcox in their 2nd seasons, plus the challenge for C.J. in managing his injury.
Getting a conference championship, however this one pans out, with one true hoops upperclassman (a student who has completed two years) is a colossal win for Romar and his staff. Anyone that tells you that this team underachieved up to
now is just plain wrong.
This season UW, with Gaddy deserving much more credit than most realize, have done an impressive job of running plays. On Tuesday Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times talked about the Dawgs astounding ability for such a young team at running good plays. Against UCLA they ran decent plays, but as has happened over and over, were just beaten on the road by a good team. Let's not forget that the Bruins have great talent and were playing for a lot of pride. It was two teams that
wanted it, but the home team got it. The refereeing played a part, as it always does in the infamous Pac-12, but UW had enough in LA to do what they did by gaining the split and just not enough more.
The key is how they will react to this loss. Should Cal lose to Stanford, it is going to be hard to not give UW an at-large bid the NCAA in my opinion, even if they lose their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament. That said, with their RPI and non-conference record, the Dawgs are going to have to worry.
Another year goes by and another UW team is sweating it out, as they enter the conference tourney. In these past two years UW has risen to that challenge by winning the thing because they really had to. UW fans have to hope that they can find the motivation and the heart to do it again.
Against UCLA on Saturday, again it was Gant with a 0-3 night from three and 1-7 from the field, but it wasn't Darnell's "fault" they lost the game. Some will point to his three missed 3's down the stretch, including UW's last shot with 15 seconds to play, before the game became a foul fest that UCLA had in the bag.
But Gant also led UW on the boards with 10. It was UCLA's ability to get 11 offensive rebounds, including many down the stretch and more importantly key turnovers by UW late. Romar talked about the pivotal TO's in the tight game being what swayed the outcome.
"The difference in the game was in the second half; they scored 11 points off of our turnovers and the majority of those were unforced. That's the difference in the game. The game was a two-point game right down the stretch near the end. We
just didn't do a good enough job of taking care of the basketball."
Romar also acknowledged the outstanding play of UCLA, but I feel that it was especially sophomore guard Tyler Lamb who sealed UW's fate. Lamb hit shots in the first half that kept UCLA close when it looked like UW were the better team. When
UW again put on runs in the 2nd half it was Lamb who not only hit shots, but made key defensive plays against Ross.
Lamb led a Bruin attack that answered when UW asserted itself and for that he deserves the game ball. Yes, maybe you don't let Darnell take that shot at 15-seconds to play, but it was a wide open look to take the lead and the Bruins were
playing inspired defense.
It was not a poor decision. Perhaps Gant could have made a better decision or for that matter made one of those late threes, but what is more important for UW is what happens now. Where do they go from here? That is all that ever matters
anyway, no matter how grand things are going or how miserable.
With Colorado losing at Oregon State and Oregon punishing Utah in Eugene OR on Saturday, either UW is going to be tied with Cal for first, with the Bears holding the #1 seed in the Pac-12 tourney or Cal, Oregon and 'Zona will be tied for second (if UA as expected beats ASU in Tempe on Sunday).
Either way UW's first game in the league tourney will not be at Hec Ed. Up to now, this year's Dawgs have gotten off the mat and punched teams in the mouth when they have stumbled, as they did on Saturday.
Will they stay true to form and do it again? Will they luck out and gain the #1 seed by the Bears losing and then play down to another team? Or will they beat that team only to do another "road split" by losing in their 2nd game of the tourney? A win over UCLA may have made things a lot easier for UW at this point, but perhaps with such a young team, the current situation gives UW the wake up call they need to run off another five straight to get back to the Sweet-16 for a school
record 4th appearance in Romar's tenure.
The last two losses were followed by five straight wins. I doubt if this one is, anyone will be talking about Gant taking the last shot against Cal on Saturday as being anything of consequence. Even if the Dawgs just win enough to get their dance card punched, Darnell will be the first UW player ever to appear in four straight NCAA tournaments.
I hope to see Gant and the Dawgs do what it takes to achieve that mark. Seth Davis of CNN.SI.com said on Friday that UW has a "Chemistry problem". I think that this is off the mark. UW has great team chemistry and Gant has a lot to do with
that. To lead this team as it's only true veteran voice as he has, without being a true go-to player is a both a testimony to the program that Romar has built and the type of person Darnell is.
Gant may not be popping off on all of the mock drafts, though I believe that he has a pro future if he wants one with his skill set and size, but he is going in the absolutely right direction as a human being. He lives his life with tremendous
passion, which is all you can dream for in truth. He's a hard worker and a team player, which is invaluable in the "real world". He is bright and creative and a young man of sound faith.
Ken Lombard was a UW forward in the mid-70's, also like Darnell from LA, who went on to be a huge success in the corporate world as vice president of Starbucks in charge of their entertainment division. Ken was a great player in LA that was also known as a great guy at UW under Marv Harshman.
Wroten, Ross, N'Diaye, Wilcox and perhaps more current Dawgs may be talked about more fervently by draft analysts, but players like Gant, as Lombard has proven, can take what they learned on campus and turn that into even more success than a much bigger basketball pro name. That is not to say that Gant could not become a great pro player if he wants, as I still feel he could.
- Washington Husky Huddle for Monday April 2nd 2012 (Part Two)
- Washington Husky Huddle for Monday April 2nd 2012 (Part One)
- Washington Husky Huddle for Saturday March 24th 2012 (Part Two)
- Washington Husky Huddle for Saturday March 24th 2012 (Part One)
- Washington Husky Huddle for Sunday March 18th 2012 (Part Two)