Not the Greatest Team Ever, But Still Great

In early November I was sitting in Hec Ed. with my brother, watching the Huskies warm up for their exhibition game against Central Washington.  Matthew said to me that he thought Quincy could have a Brandon Roy like senior year, I didn’t think so.  Dreams and expectations were floating around the building.  Could this team make a final-four run?  How many games would they win the pac-10 by?   They went on to win by about 30 that night.  We got to see Clarence Trent’s athleticism, Tyrese Breshers look like Jon Brockman, and Abdul Gaddy make some unbelievable no look passes.  Walking out of the building that night the expectations set on the Huskies seemed realistic. 

With sports come disappointment.  Some people would qualify the Huskies as disappointing.  The expectations started going down the toilet with a couple missed Elston Turner free throws in Lubbock, Texas.  Texas Tech and the Huskies were both undefeated and the Huskies were playing their first road game.  They were better than Tech but they forgot to play defense that night and lost a thriller in overtime.

Then came a game in Anaheim against a good Georgetown team.  It was a chance for the Dawgs to get a quality win.  In the first half a win looked possible then came a terrible 5 minute stretch in the second half.  The type of stretch that we’ve become to familiar with this season; we can’t make a basket to save our lives and the other team can’t miss.  The Huskies fought hard to come back from a 20 point deficit but lost. 

The Huskies played their way through the rest of the non-conference season, looking very good at times but looking completely average more often.  They picked up a solid win against Texas A&M but that game was overshadowed by the worst injury I’ve ever seen in person.  Heading into pac-10 play no one knew what to expect from the Dawgs, they hadn’t beaten anyone of  note but they hadn’t looked awful.  

Despite the mediocrity, I had completely fallen for this Huskies team.  They had a ton of talent, an interesting amount of arrogance, and, like the Mariners, seemed to have fun with each other.  Through the start of pac-10 play the Huskies were extremely frustrating.  They won a nail-biter against OSU, forgot to play defense and lost to the *ucks, and then looked absolutely woeful in a trip to the Arizona desert.

The Dawgs then went all Jekyll and Hyde on us.  They looked like a sweet-16 team at home, absolutely thrashing teams, and then a high school team on the road, absolutely getting thrashed by people.  To say this was extremely frustrating may be an understatement.  Honestly, this may have been the best Huskies team I’ve ever seen but only when they played at home.  Although the frustration grew and the March Madness hopes grew dimmer, I loved this team even more.  The Huskies were surprisingly human.  That likable arrogance they played with was an act and they had psychological problems that wouldn’t allow them to win on the road. 

The Huskies were like that cool, mysterious friend you have.  The friend who you ask to hang out because they’re so dang cool and they say yes but you don’t know if they’ll actually come over.  Something comes up so they aren’t able to make it and you ask again and again if they want to hang out.  Finally, when you get to hang out with them you find out that this friend who acts so cool and calm around everyone else doesn’t really have it all together.  He or she spills everything to you about how their lives are messed up and all you can do is listen.  After the friend spills the beans to you they leave and you helplessly watch as they try to keep it all together while still keeping that cool attitude. 

In mid-February, I didn’t know if the Huskies would be the friend who finally pulls it all together.  They had the potential to but they were still inconsistent.  They finally got a road win but then lost an emotional game to USC at home.  After that loss, hope was almost lost.  Husky nation felt for Quincy who had been having a Brandon Roy like senior year.  The team would most likely settle for an NIT birth and be held out of the big dance.

Then it happened.  They put it all together.  It started with the demolishing of UCLA on national TV.  Quincy cried at mid-court on his senior night before the game started; maybe that’s when it all made sense to the Huskies, they had to do this for Pondexter.  Their captain was the only one who stuck around UW from his recruiting class and it was clear how much this school meant to him.  The Huskies then held off WSU on the road, avenged their loss to the Ducks, and then beat the Beavers to finish out the regular season.  A ticket to the big dance suddenly seemed achievable.

Most of you know what happened next.  The Huskies rode a thrilling wave in California all the way to a pac-10 tournament championship.  They are now going to play at 4:20 on Thursday afternoon against a Marquette team that they match up pretty well against.  It’ll be tough but I can see this team making a sweet 16 run.  They are peaking at the right time and the confidence is back, except this time the confidence is earned and isn’t an act.

While the Huskies have been a nauseating, emotional roller coaster this year, the ride has been completely worth it.  This team’s games have stressed me out more than school.  I know that is ridiculous but I really like this team and it’s been fun to see them grow.  It’s been so much fun to see Q-Pon make one more run to the tournament, Turner finally coming up big, MBA growing into a dominant player, Overton driving people crazy (again), Holiday finding his jump shot, and Thomas turning into a leader and playmaker. 

I have no idea what the Dawgs’ will do this tournament but everything from here on out is gravy for me.  It’s been an interesting year and although this team isn’t perfect and is easy to get mad at, they are great. 

Andrew

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