Welcome Back, Dawgs

It looked bleak.  The Huskies were down by as much as 13 in the first half, and ended the half being down by 8.  If it weren’t for surprise starter, Terrance Ross, and his 13 first-half points, the game very well could have been over by halftime.

While sitting on the couch, waiting for the second half, I couldn’t help but think about what could have been.  This was the team who was supposed to finish Pac-10 play at 16-2 and earn a 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.  At halftime, they were a team who was going to be one-and-done in the Pac-10 tournament and then would be one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament, assuming they’d make it that far.

Then, the Dawgs got their bite back.  They played the best 2 minutes of Husky basketball that we’ve seen in at least a month, and possibly all season.  The Huskies brought a blitz to open up the second half, and when the blitz was finally stopped by a Ken Bone timeout, our Dawgs were up by 2 instead of down by 8.  Welcome back, Huskies.

But, then it wasn’t over.  There was still 17:40 left in the game and the Huskies were playing an inspired Wazzu team that had brought their very best against the Huskies all season long.  Still, even if the Huskies had lost the game, we knew that the team that had looked so strong at points was still there.  The Dawgs proved that in the first 2 minutes of the second half.

The Cougars settled down and held a lead for the next 10 minutes or so.  Klay Thompson was unstoppable.  Every time he touched the ball, it felt like the Huskies had suffered a defeat.  He played an incredible game.  Not to mention, Faisal Aden hitting some incredible shots too.  I don’t know how he made some of those fade-away jumpers.  I’d never seen him shoot like that before.  The last person to go for over 40 points against the Huskies (Thompson finished with 43), was Adam Morrison.  It’s quite interesting that the Huskies have won both of those games.

With Klay going off, the Huskies needed offense and they got it from their leader.  Isaiah Thomas had been questioned over the last 2 weeks, and he’d be the first to admit his game was off.  His double-doubles of a couple months ago were lost memories and he hadn’t made a jump shot in what seemed like 3 weeks.  This week, he vowed to play better and he sure did.  Tonight he finished with 21 points, 11 assists and 3 steals.

I’ve heard many people say that this team doesn’t have the leadership that prior UW teams have had.  I disagree with this thought because of I.T.  In my mind, Thomas was the heart and soul of last years team and he is on this year’s team also.  Tonight he put his best foot forward and was a vocal leader for the Huskies throughout the entire night.  Not to mention, he played the entire game.  He had more passion than I’ve seen and was as focused as I’ve ever seen.  What an amazing effort and performance.

So, are the Huskies back?  We don’t know, and it would be completely foolish to say they were at this point.  But, in the second half tonight, the Dawgs were back.  This was the frantic team we had grown accustomed to .  The team with so many offensive weapons.  The team with suffocating, turnover-forcing defense.  The team that ran the pick-and-roll to perfection down the stretch.  I don’t know if it’ll last through tomorrow but, if nothing else, at least we got to see it one more time.  At halftime, I didn’t think that would happen.

(A few more thoughts after the jump)

  • Justin Holiday had an interesting game.  That guy hasn’t made a 3-pointer since the UCLA game, and he only made on in that one.  But, he played a gritty game other than that.  He had a double-double midway through the second half and played tough defense on Thompson in the closing minutes.  It wasn’t pretty but, especially coming off a concussion, it was an impressive performance.
  • Why do the Cougars play so good against us?  I honestly think Wazzu looks like a top-20 team against us.  Of course, no one did much for the that team except Thompson tonight.  If they had one more really solid player, I think they would have contended for a conference championship.  As is, they rely too much on Klay, Casto, and Aden.  Those 3 scored 73 of the Cougars 87 points tonight.  I think this will be Thompson’s last game ever against the Huskies.  I’m perfectly okay with that.
  • I was glad to see that FSN is using that Unbreakable song by Beach Girl5 again.  What a joke.
  • When Wilcox gets rolling, is there a prettier shot?  I can see where the Ray Allen comparisons come from, with his quick release and how smooth he is.  It’s impressive.  Good thing the Cougars left him alone on one play, or else I don’t know if he would have gotten into rhythm, and the Dawgs needed that in the closing minutes.
  • The Huskies play Oregon today at approximately 8:30.  Oregon upset UCLA today.  Obviously, on paper we’d rather be facing the Ducks.  They don’t have the front line UCLA does.  But Oregon has played well the last few days, and it’s far from a sure victory.  The Huskies lost in Eugene in a game where they played fairly well.  Hopefully it will be a fun night.
  • If the Dawgs win the tournament, do they earn a 7 seed?  That might be a little too high, but it sure would be nice.  I’d really like them to stay away from an 8 or 9 seed.

That’s all for tonight, go Dawgs! And don’t forget, you’re unbreakable!

Andrew

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