This has been very much an up and down year for the Washington Huskies. Expectations for the year were high. They were expected to be a top-15 team and win the Pac-10 regular season. Those things didn't end up happening.
The Huskies looked great in the early part of the season against lesser opponents. They played their best game of the season against Virginia in Maui. They then lost close games against Kentucky and Michigan State, both top 10 teams at the time. They later lost by one point at Texas A & M.
They were inconsistent in Pac-10 games. They ended up in 3rd place. They beat UCLA twice and split with Arizona. However, they lost to WSU twice and lost at Oregon, Oregon State, and Stanford. They also lost their starting point guard, Abdul Gaddy, to a knee injury.
Photo: Dean Rutz/Seattle Times
In the middle of all this, they had a player, Venoy Overton, being investigated by the police. He was charged with a gross misdemeanor days before the Pac-10 Tournament. Coach Romar suspended him for the Pac-10 Tournament.
The losses of Gaddy and Overton meant that Washington had only one point guard on the roster for the Pac-10 Tournament. They would need Isaiah Thomas to carry the team. Thomas played all but two minutes of the Huskies' tournament run.
Thomas played his best basketball of the year in the tournament. He was sensational in the first game against Washington State. WSU's Klay Thompson scored a tournament-record 43 points. But Isaiah had 21 points and 11 rebounds and seemed to will the Huskies to the win. Washington won by two.
Washington led pretty much the entire second game against Oregon. The Ducks made a comeback in the second half, though Washington pulled way at the end. UW won by 18. Thomas had 10 points and 12 assists.
The Huskies faced Arizona in the championship game. Arizona won the regualr season and had the league's best player, Derrick Williams. The game was close throughout. In the final minute, Arizona went up by 4 with 22 seconds left. However, freshman Terrence Ross hit a three-pointer with 19 seconds left to pull Washington within 1. With 14 seconds left, Lamont "Momo" Jones was fouled; he hit his two free throws. Washington trailed by 3. Isaiah brought the ball up the court. He passed the ball to C.J. Wilcox in the corner, and Wilcox drained it to tie the game. Overtime.
The overtime was again close. With 21 seconds left the game was tied. Isaiah again brought the ball up court. He let the time wind down. With seconds left he made his move, fired up a fade away, contested shot...and connected. The buzzer sounded as the ball went through the net. Huskies win!
28 points, 7 assists for Thomas. After being mobbed by his teammates, he lay down on the floor, exhausted. He had a remarkable game, a remarkable tournament. He is 5'7". Doesn't matter. He can play basketball.
And so the Washington Huskies proceed to the NCAA Tournament. There's no reason they can't win a few games there. You just never know.