Against all odds Lorenzo Romar guided his squad to the Sweet Sixteen this season achieving the pre-season projections the experts had for his club. As we all know there were quit a few bumps along the way but Washington finished the last month of the season strong until they bumped into a longer West Virginia squad who put the hammer down on them defensively and on the offensive boards in the second half of last nights game.
West Virginia won last night because they were simply a better team that deserved to go farther. Despite that Washington still had its chances down the stretch but turned the ball over way too many times and couldn't put the ball in the hoop.
The turning point for me was a technical on Lorenzo Romar after a poor officiating call which resulted in a four point WVU swing. Washington was never able to get closer than six points after that. Sometimes a technical can turn the team around and other times it realy doesn't make much of a difference. Mark this one down as the latter.
Going into the game we all knew that this was the type of team that Washington has problems with. They resembled a souped up version of USC who dispatched Washington twice this season. WVU is an excellent well coached squad and they have a pretty good chance of advancing to the FInal Four on Saturday.
Keep in mind Husky fans that even though UW was picked to win the Pac 10 title this season this was a rebuilding season. The absense of a true physical force up front was a missing piece on this squad. MBA finished strong but we needed another banger to compliment him up front in the Jon Brockman mold. We will probably never see another Jon Brockman but this team lacked strength on the boards at time and that will have to be addressed in the off season.
On the outside this squad had growing pains as Abdul Gaddy began the difficult transition of becoming a major college point guard and Isaiah Thomas struggled with consistency. Both those players will be much better next season and Venoy Overton will return to continue harrasing opposing teams as a defensive specialist.
I know a lot of you are thinking that Venoy blew the game last night with his ball handing during the last ten minutes of the game. Obviously that had something to do with the outcome but you can't fault a man for trying to make something happen on both sides of the court. Without Venoy exerting pressure out on the perimeter this team probably wouldn't have been dancing this season.
Ditto for Justin Holiday whose insertion into the starting lineup helped ignite Washington's late season surge. Holiday isn't a big time scorer but he does so many of the little things that help a team win. Look for him to hold on to that starting spot and become more of a scorer next season when someone is asked to step up to fill in for Pondexter.
Speaking of Quincy Pondexter...he had a monster season and will be missed next year but Washington will likely be bringing in three new players who will help fill the void. Only 6'7 PF Desmond Simmons has been announced but it is rumored that 6'9 PF Terrence Jones, 7'0 JC C Aziz Ndiaye, or 6'5 SG Terrence Ross who plays on the same team as Jones will be joining the program. Some say Jones and Ross are a package deal for Washington.
The future is very bright for Washington basketball. I think next years team will once again be a favorite to win the Pac 10 and perhaps even go deeper int this tournament. The next two weekends won't be as interesting with Washington out of the tournament but this program will eventually end up in a Final four under the leadership of Coach Lorenzo Romar.