On the day after the Great Husky Hosing, life commenced at an awkward, deliberate pace. Around lunchtime, a shirtless Spencer Hawes was...
On the day after the Great Husky Hosing, life commenced at an awkward, deliberate pace.
Around lunchtime, a shirtless Spencer Hawes was in Edmundson Pavilion shooting jumpers. The lone bouncing ball sent a soft echo through the placid arena. It felt more like July than this month of madness.
Thank your new enemies on the NIT selection committee for their hospitality. Be sure to send them decapitated chocolate bunnies this Easter. Chairman C.M. Newton and his good ol’ boys’ club turned this young Washington team into the Deprived Dawgs.
But since tantrums can only last so long, let’s just throw out a crazy thought today.
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Once the anger subsides, the NIT snub could turn out to be a gift.
Of course, overlooking the 19-win, Pac-10 Huskies will never be right. They were hosed, deprived, robbed, pillaged, plundered, hijacked, hoodwinked, scammed, swindled and any other verb, profane or profound, you might want to use. They believed the system was fair, and the system failed them because the committee wasn’t diligent.
All UW can do is complain and move forward. Griping can be therapeutic. But only learning from this cold-shoulder can bring change.
The lesson: Never fall into this situation again.
Although this NIT neglect is a travesty, the Huskies aren’t absolved of being an underachieving team. The season began with Final Four fantasies, which was silly of us, considering four freshmen and two sophomores resided in their rotation. Nevertheless, this should’ve been an NCAA tournament team, not a squad upset it won’t get to play for 66th place.
“I think we can draw from that point,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “You’ve got to bring it. Nothing’s going to be handed to you.”
This was Romar’s first team of privilege at UW. He built the program by maximizing the talents of players who burned to make the Huskies a winner. Then the Brandon Roys, Will Conroys and Nate Robinsons left. And in this transitional year, the young Huskies couldn’t keep up with the (Bobby) Joneses.
There’s little reason to think these players won’t have a nice run of success. The process is simply longer and more painful than expected. But this season’s humbling could speed things up.
Perhaps you’ve heard this sports tale before. Team with high expectations flops one year. The next season, it re-emerges, tougher, hungrier, and re-establishes its place among the nobility, screaming “Nobody believed in us!” all the while.
It happens all the time.
If all goes right, a year from now NIT will be mentioned mockingly inside Hec Ed. UW will act like the ugly high school kid who returns 20 years later for a reunion, looking like a model.
Oh, that’s somebody who should’ve had better foresight.
“You can’t manufacture something,” Romar said of using the NIT snub as a motivator. “It can’t be faked, whatever your motivation is. But we learned as a group that you’ve got to go out and do it. Nothing’s going to be given to you.”
The Huskies are a team of privilege no more. All privileges have been revoked. Now they must become a team of revenge.
Romar tried to take a broader view Monday. He still wants answers “for conscience’s sake.” But he also admitted the inevitability of struggles this season. He just didn’t expect the bad days to destroy the season.
“We felt like there would be days when we did not recognize our team and days that we’d be awesome,” Romar said. “But the end result, I thought, was we’d be in the postseason.”
Strictly from a youth standpoint, the coach compared this team to his first Huskies squad, which finished 10-17 in 2002-03. If you’re constantly starting over in college basketball, then this group is starting from a much better place, Romar says.
“We had four freshmen and a sophomore in that group, and we went from 10-17 to two Sweet 16s,” Romar said. “This team was 19-13 this season.”
There are differences, of course. The group four years ago wasn’t playing with a frontline the caliber of Hawes and Jon Brockman. It wasn’t full of prep All-Americans. And it didn’t step into an established winning environment.
But in addition to individual improvement, these Huskies must find their predecessors’ edge this offseason. It should be easy. They are now the team the low-rent tournament wouldn’t even accept.
It’s discouraging news. But there could be encouraging ramifications, especially if Hawes gets mad and stays.
“Maybe this is a bad analogy, but it’s like if your mother tells you, ‘Don’t put too much salt in your food,’ ” Romar said. “Then you tell yourself, ‘Ah, I’ll just put a little more in there.’ Then it’s the nastiest thing you’ve ever tasted. You had to learn on your own.
“Maybe you don’t quite understand how important some things are until you stumble a couple of times.”
Nothing tastes nastier than some bad NIT news. Learn quickly, young Huskies. If this program wants to be a beast, it must be fed properly.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org