Maybe it’s too early to be talking about it. After all, the Washington Huskies have yet to play a Pac-12 conference game this season.
But realistically, something more was lost on Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena than just the Huskies’ 32-game home court winning streak against non-conference teams.
Washington’s disappointing and slightly embarrassing 92-73 loss to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits not only ended a run of homecourt dominance, but it may have crushed any potential hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
With only one non-conference game remaining – Thursday’s match-up with Cal State Northridge – the Huskies can at best be 6-5 going into Pac-12 play. The losses to Duke, Marquette and even St. Louis might seem acceptable. But South Dakota State? At home? That just won’t get it done.
Head coach Lorezno Romar was too bitter about the loss itself to look at the long range goals. There was one word that resonated from him postgame.
“I don’t care who we play, we don’t lose like we did today at home,” he said. “It’s just unacceptable. Unacceptable.”
And yet, he understood the questions about his team’s NCAA tournament resume. Of course, that was far from a pressing issue to him. There will be no bubble talk for the moment.
“I am not going to get caught up in what we have to do and what we have to win to get somewhere,” Romar said. “We just played a very, very, very poor game today. Before we start figuring out what our RPI is, we better get better or those questions are irrelevant. I think you have a good question, but we would be getting way ahead of ourselves before we start calculating what we need to do.”
There really isn’t much calculation. Washington would likely need to have an outstanding record in a mediocre Pac-12 and win the conference title to assure anything.
“It definitely doesn’t help us,” said freshman Tony Wroten, who scored a team-high 23 points – eclipsing the 20-point mark for his second straight start.
And right now with the way the Huskies are playing, that seems like far from a guarantee.
“If we keep losing, it’s not going to matter,” said C.J. Wilcox. “We need to work on us right now.”
That work in the coming days needs to lead to a change on the floor against Northridge, or Romar admitted his coaching staff will have to re-adjust it’s plan and expectations for this season.
“’Is it time to panic?’ that question gets asked,” Romar said. “If we are doing this against Northridge, it’s time to panic. But right now we have a few more chances to be better than we were today.”
From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, here’s Terry Vandrovec’s game story …
The Jacks were, on this day, just better than the Huskies (5-5), who have made three straight NCAA tournaments, won two straight conference tournament titles and boast multiple NBA prospects. Washington hadn’t lost an out-of-conference contest at home since 2008 and had won 60 of 62 since 2004 in the 10,000-seat building.
“I think that UND game woke us up a little bit,” Wolters said. “That was probably one of the worst games we’ve played since I’ve been here. Today, we played with confidence, nothing to lose.”
That was evident early.
Obviously the eFG% is alarming, but when you allow a team to shoot over 60 percent 3-point range that will happen.
The more alarming thing to me is how teams are breaking the Huskies down off the dribble. Nearly each of the losses, teams were able to break the Huskies defense down via dribble penetration. Once that happens, your whole defense is put at risk.