It seemed as if the Washington Huskies had gotten out of a slump and rejuvenated their season completely with a successful home stand...but that is wrong.
Washington clobbered both Stanford and UCLA, with senior stand-out Quincy Pondexter putting up 27 and 25 points respectively. While he continued his terrific performance against UCLA on Thursday night, it wasn't enough to beat the Bruins, who won on a last second buzzer beater.
We know the Huskies can play, and they have proved this on many nights this season, but the inconsistency and lack of an identity appear to be doing the Dawgs in and leaving them in a bad situation.
The lack of a big-man was a concern going into the season, and it's plagued Washington and created some mismatches. Tyreese Breshers and Matthew Bryan-Amaning aren't a very good match for the other bigs in the conference, which is why it isn't exactly surprising that the Huskies are near the bottom with a 3-4 conference record.
Let's not completely lose hope though. Washington's season isn't over quite yet, but it's going to take a serious change to revive it.
Winless on the road with two buzzer beater losses, Washington will play a USC team this Saturday that just suffered their first Pac-10 loss at home to Washington State. This could be a good time for Washington to come in and get that first road win.
On nights when the Huskies do show up, it's common to see both Pondexter and guard Isaiah Thomas put up 20-plus points. And the defense has a gym-rat type of defense that can be tough to compete with at times.
In their atrocious Arizona road trip, Washington lost back-to-back games by 17, and Pondexter was held to under 10 points in each game. Teams are easily figuring out the Huskies' vulnerabilities, and finding the best ways to expose them.
It's unclear how Washington can secure an identity that can be brought to each game so that the team can learn to win on the road. The big-men are inadequate, and it seems unrealistic to expect this to change much through the course of this season. So I personally think the identity must come from the guard triad of Thomas, Venoy Overton, and Abdul Gaddy.
On most nights, Pondexter can be counted on. But versus UCLA, it was proven that even when he plays great, it isn't necessarily enough. If the guards could give him a little more support, the Huskies could be okay.
For Overton and Thomas, slowing down the offense and getting the rest of the team involved more (i.e. passing the ball) would be nice to see. They both play really aggressive defense but tend to jump the gun at time on offense.
Overton has been a good option coming off the bench and has been averaging around 20 minutes in each game. I know he can have a bigger impact offensively, and having that threat would be ideal for Washington.
Gaddy's case is a bit different. To get optimal production from him, he's just needs to keep gaining experience. He's been starting, and I love that, but he's only averaging 4.6 PPG. He hasn't quite lived up to his hype yet, but it's understandable that Coach Romar wants him on the floor. Hopefully he'll develop and give more to the team.
Washington should look at the USC game as a must-win if it want to keep any hope alive to legitimately defend its 2008-09 Pac-10 title. Unfortunately, there's uncertainty as to which Huskies team will show up on Saturday.
All successful teams have an identity, and minus Q-Pon, this is something the Huskies lack for the time being.