There was a lot of talk in the past month or so that Washington was being underrated in the national polls.
The Huskies looked quite impressive to the computers, namely Kenpom’s, who had Washington in his top five.
Us humans saw Washington fitting in somewhere closer to the bottom of the top 25. Why? Because Washington is a talented-but-flawed team that is maddeningly inconsistent, especially on the road, and has been for two years now. We’ve learned the hard way that putting faith into Washington is an easy way to get your hoops hopes dashed.
That theory was proven correct last night, as Washington lost their second consecutive game in Pac-10 play. On Sunday, it was a road loss to rival Washington State. That was understandable. The Cougars have looked like a tournament team at times, and a road loss to your biggest conference rival that also appears to be the third best team in the league is hardly a devastating loss.
Losing at Oregon State is, however.
That’s what the Huskies did on Thursday night. Jared Cunningham led the way with 19 points and Craig Robinson’s lineup switch — going bigger — helped allow the Beavers to dominate the Huskies on the glass and hold Matthew Bryan-Amaning to just 12 points.
It gets worse. That Washington State team that was supposed to be the third best team in the conference? They lost to Oregon. <span style=”font-style:italic;”>By 26 points</span>. Klay Thompson had only 12 and the Ducks whooped up on the Cougars 69-43.
In the process, Arizona has taken over sole possession of first place in the Pac-10. After the Wildcats beat Stanford 78-69 last night, they had won four games in a row and seven of eight, with the only loss coming at Washington.
So what has happened to the Huskies?
Well, for starters, Isaiah Thomas has come back to earth. The dynamic, 5’9″ point guard was terrific in the first eight games of Pac-10 play, but in his last two games, he is shooting 5-24 from the field, averaging just 14.0 ppg, and he has 14 turnovers to just 11 assists.
As a result, Washington’s offense, which was averaging 1.16 points per possession in the 7-1 Pac-10 start, has averaged 0.86 points per possession in the last two games.
The Huskies are not a great defensive team
. If they are struggling to score, they will struggle to win.
“We weren’t disciplined on defense tonight,” he said. “Far too many gambles, took far too many chances. We can sit around and talk about what player didn’t get enough shots and what player didn’t (step up but,) if we’re not disciplined on defense that is on me. That’s my fault.
“I have to get our guys to play better defense. It’s that simple.”
“We’re capable of doing it,” Romar said. “We’ve done it before, but we’ve gotten away from it a little bit. This is the third straight game where we haven’t guarded the way we’re capable of.
“And if that’s going on, I have to look myself in the mirror and make sure we change things around.”
This is a dangerous Washington team. They are very talented, though. Talented enough to make it through the first weekend in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Consistency, however, is something that they need to work on.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.