The majority of the Washington Huskies' season was the same story: win at home, lose on the road, and deal with being undersized.
This of course was mainly due to the departure of Jon Brockman last year, leaving junior Matthew Bryan-Amaning as the primary big-man for the Huskies.
It's fair to say that Amaing underachieved at times this season. Although he had some decent moves in the post, he had difficulty getting shots to fall.
Fast forward to the Pac-10 tournament. A different number 11 emerged for the Huskies. One with energy, more physicality, and a slightly better post presence.
Call it a case of peaking at the right time, or call it Bryan-Amaning simply growing into his role. Either way, he is adding exactly what Washington has needed to make this March Madness run.
Pouring in 15 points and nine rebounds in the Dawgs' thumping of New Mexico, Bryan-Amaning provided a great complement to senior star Quincy Pondexter and sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas.
Heading into Syracuse to face West Virginia, Amaning will be key for Washington to have a shot.
Aside from his stats getting better, Bryan-Amaning just seems more comfortable with the ball in his hands. When he meshes with his fellow starters, it's clear that the Huskies are capable of playing a whole lot better than an 11-seed.
Washington's defense played a large part in the trip to the Sweet 16, and their scrappy style of play made it tough for both Marquette and New Mexico to get into an offensive rhythm at times. West Virginia also thrives on physical play on both sides of the ball, making Bryan-Amaning's presence at both ends important.
To say this game is in the Huskies' favor wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. However, size-wise, it looks about even.
Mountaineer forward Devin Ebanks is 6'9", and will likely match up with Bryan-Amaning who is also listed at 6'9". There are some similarities in the two, but Ebanks won't be easy to contain. He averages three more points and about two more boards than Bryan-Amaning per game.
The intensity that Bryan-Amaning has been bringing in the last handful of games goes hand-in-hand with the way the Huskies have been playing. If he wants to win his match-up with Ebanks and if Washington wants to win the game, this intensity needs to be pumping for 40 minutes.
Earlier in the year, most people wouldn't view Bryan-Amaning as an X-factor. Pondexter, Thomas, and even Justin Holliday now are usually outshining the big man.
But if Washington wants to continue its run and beat the Mountaineers, Amaning must be incorporated, and he must keep owning the post.