Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.
Just one summer ago, Lorenzo Romar was firmly entrenched on the hot seat. In the past two seasons, the once proud Washington program compiled a lackluster 34-27 (15-21) record, the 2006-07 campaign ending without postseason play and the 2007-08 season concluding with a first round CBI loss to Valparaiso. The Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson era in the middle of the decade- complete with two Sweet 16’s, a #1 seed, a conference tournament title and one of my personal favorite NCAA Tournament games ever– seemed like ages ago for the purple-clad Washington faithful that were pining for their first Pac-10 championship since 1985.
Enter stud freshman Isaiah Thomas. Add in a large dose of senior double-double machine Jon Brockman. Sprinkle in an overachieving supporting cast and a raucous Bank of America Arena and you have the ingredients for that long-anticipated Pac-10 title. Sure, the Huskies fell in a heartbreaker to Purdue in the second round of the tournament, but the Washington basketball program was back in a big way. The Lute Olson departure and subsequent mess at Arizona also prompted five-star point guard Abdul Gaddy to de-commit from the Wildcats and join Washington for the upcoming season.
Will the Huskies repeat as Pac-10 regular season champions? Let’s dissect the route that Romar and his team must take to accomplish such a feat:
Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 2.5. With a lacking Pac-10 and a non-conference schedule that appears extremely easy at first look, Washington’s computer numbers could suffer in February and March when seeds are being discussed. The quality wins may not just be there, and Romar has nobody to blame but himself for the lack of challenging non-conference contests. After a meeting with Central Washington, the Athletes in Action Basketball Classic will bring Wright State, Belmont and Portland State to Seattle. Other home games include such powerhouses as San Francisco, San Jose State, Portland, Cal State Northridge and Montana. The Huskies will have to travel to Lubbock to take on a Texas Tech team still finding its bearings and Texas A&M visits Seattle just prior to conference play. Even a trek to Anaheim to take on Georgetown should find the Huskies favored.
Cupcake City: Washington’s frosting-filled schedule means the matchup with Georgetown is crucial. Lose to the Hoyas and Romar won’t have one single significant non-conference victory to tout unless one of those two Big 12 teams surprise (A&M is the most likely). It’s never too early to be projecting where teams may stack up in relation to seeds and brackets. Even if Washington wins another conference title, the Pac-10’s RPI will not stand out and the Huskies non-conference RPI could be in the 200’s. Don’t think the committee won’t pay attention to that number.