Washington Week: Evaluating The Recent PastPosted by Connor Pelton on July 9th, 2012
Despite winning the regular season Pac-12 title, a conference Coach of the Year award, and a run to the Final Four of the NIT, 2011-12 was considered a mediocre year by many in Seattle. That’s what happens when you make three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances coming into last season. Between the 2008-09 and the 2010-11 seasons, Washington posted a combined 76-30 record, with 11 of those 30 losses coming against teams ranked in the Top 25. Last season was a rollercoaster ride with too many “downs” for the selection committee’s liking, even if there were a lot of “ups” to go along with it.
The Huskies knew going into the season that there would be some early roadbumps after losing do-everything players Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas. Grouped with what turned out to be a season-ending foot injury for guard Scott Suggs that was suffered during preseason workouts, the Dawgs limped out of the gate. Washington struggled to beat a Florida Atlantic team (the Owls finished the year with an 11-19 mark) at home in their second game of the season, and a week later would lose by 13 points against Saint Louis. The hits would keep on coming, as it would go on to lose three of its next four games after the trip to Missouri. Midway through that stretch, Washington announced that Suggs would redshirt the 2011-12 season. And while this was obviously a good choice for the future, it felt at the time being as if the Huskies had already given up some hope of a successful season. The low point of the season came in the first two games of its five game mid-December home stand. After limping to a 87-80 win over UC Santa Barbara, the Huskies were blown out of their home arena by South Dakota State, suffering a 19-point loss to the Jackrabbits. And while SDSU would go on to have a great season, they were just three days removed from a 19-point defeat of their own — at the hands of vaunted North Dakota.
Needless to say, things were not looking good in Seattle. The remaining three home games saw some of the lowest attendance figures of the year, but they were able to finish up the home stand with three wins. And then came the cover-your-eyes Rocky Mountain road trip. After starting out Pac-12 play with a 2-0 record, the Huskies went into another downward spiral, losing by 18 against Colorado and narrowly escaping Salt Lake City with an ugly 57-53 win over Utah. The Dawgs returned home and struggled to put away a bad Seattle U. team, but finally, four days later, the season would begin to turn around. Washington found its stride against rival Washington State, a win that would start a stretch of 11 victories in 13 games for the team.
The Huskies went into the final regular season game of the season against UCLA knowing that they had already won the conference title. With the Bruins still to play and at least one game in the Pac-12 Tournament, Washington had to win one to seemingly play their way into an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. They would lose both, both last-minute heartbreakers, and the committee took second place California instead as the Pac-12’s only at-large team. Cal beat Washington in their only meeting, a 69-66 decision in Seattle back in mid-January.
In 2012-13, expect Washington to be right back on the bubble come March. They do lose three integral parts of last year’s roster in Tony Wroten, Jr., Terrence Ross, and Darnell Gant, but with Suggs 100% healthy and the emergence of Mark McLaughlin, who was the leading junior college scorer in the nation last season, the Dawgs might not even miss a beat at the guard position this fall.