Friday, August 10th at 2:53pm is a date and time that will live on in infamy for me, at least for a while. We vacation every year in Sun River, Oregon and like to hit Multnomah Falls and the city of Portland on the way home. While taking in the beautiful surroundings of the falls and striking up one or two conversations with other visitors, I received a text message that alarmed me, disoriented me and generally ruined my day. It was from my brother – a rabid Dawg fan – saying that Mark McLaughlin, who had just recently committed to the University of Washington with such enthusiasm, was now leaving to “pursue other opportunities”, as the University’s press release put it. I answered the text with a “Whaaaa?!”
McLaughlin’s long and circuitous route to UW has been well chronicled elsewhere, so I won’t bother repeating it here. Neither will I speculate on why McLaughlin’s moving on. I genuinely wish him the best as he walks through what must be a trying time for he and his family. Oddly enough, though McLaughlin hadn’t even played a game for the Huskies, his departure may leave a hole in the guard and wing rotation that won’t be completely filled this year.
Where the Dawgs Will Turn
I may be slightly overstating the issue, but McLaughlin’s versatility will be sorely missed. His ability to play multiple positions (depending on the opposition’s sets), his adroit handles, creativity around the rim and perimeter prowess cannot be easily passed over. To fill this void, the Huskies will no doubt look to C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs, two sharp-shooting wings who have been in the Husky system for three and four years, respectively. To keep opposing defenses honest, however, the Huskies will need more than perimeter play from Wilcox and Suggs. Husky fans take comfort; they are more than capable. Both are athletic, long and versatile. The key, however, will be staying healthy, since the Huskies now find themselves relatively thin at a position that they’ve historically been deep.
Is There a Silver Lining?
Sports, like life, have silver linings shrouded in even the darkest of clouds. First, Romar will have another scholarship to play with in a very “crowded” 2013 class and some of his targets, such as Jabari Bird, are very talented wings. Second, it will allow the spotlight to shine brightly on Wilcox and Suggs, as it should. Both are mature, looked upon as leaders and have the drive to see their team win. I expect Husky fans will see great things from them both. We shall see if in the big picture of next season and beyond, this bump in the road yields deeper levels of success for Romar’s program, and for McLaughlin, too.