Gant’s Moustache: Thoughts on the Huskies’ 76-70 Win Over Oregon State


The Washington Huskies (10-2) defeated the Oregon State Beavers (6-6) at Hec Edmundson Pavilion to end 2009 on a winning note.

The Beavers hit a few shots out of the gate, and used an effective 1-3-1 zone defense to slow down the pace of the game and get the Huskies out of sync. The New Year’s Eve crowd was quiet when they looked up at the scoreboard and saw their Huskies trailing 19-10.

The camera panned over to a stunned Husky fan, who was wearing ‘The Abdul Gaddy Face’ (the same look my six-month-old son has on his face when he rolls over, looks up and realizes he is in a completely new location and just bumped his head really hard.)

“Uh, oh,” I thought. “We may lose the Pac-10 opener at home to OSU. We may lose this game by 20. We’re not a tournament team. Are there enough beers in the fridge for this entire night?”

In the middle of these thoughts, Venoy absolutely went off: He had a beautiful drive, a few key passes and several signature steals that inspired a frenetic wave of Husky defense. IT was hitting his threes, MBA had a monstrous dunk, Quincy scored from inside and out, Bresheers played big and strong—it was beautiful. The last 10 minutes of the

first half were the best minutes I have seen the Huskies play this season.

OSU began turning the ball over on nearly every possession. The only points they scored were when overzealous Husky defenders would over-commit going for a steal, leaving a Beaver under the basket for an easy layup. They completely stopped attacking—wanting nothing to do with Husky defenders, and looking more terrified than a hot girl at a Star Trek convention. At times during this run, it looked like there were seven Huskies on the floor.  The next thing I knew, we had gone on a 33-14 run and we went into the half up by 10 at 43-33.

The second half was all about hanging on—which for the Huskies, can be tricky. We have seen this for the past few years: the Huskies do NOT play very well with a lead. I think a big part of this is their style of play. Several times last season, when they slowed things down to protect a lead, they would lose their flow and become a stagnant basketball team. So I was actually happy to see that they continued to push the tempo against OSU, despite leading by double-digits.

With that said, Venoy and IT made some really bad choices down the stretch: Venoy dribbling in between three defenders while taking the ball up the court with three  minutes left and lead? IT taking wild, CONTESTED, layups with 25 seconds left on the shot clock? The Huskies were lucky the Beavers didn’t capitalize on some of these errors down the stretch—because this game could have gotten away from them. Still, to their credit, the Beavers played hard the entire game. They are a pesky team that is going to be around .500 in the Pac.

The most significant sequence of the game came with 2:52 left. The Huskies were up by five, 69-64, at the time. They turned the ball over and Calvin Haynes had a fast break with nobody in front of him but the Husky cheerleaders. If he makes that layup, the lead is cut to three. Instead, Venoy sprints down the court in 9th gear, and catches up to Haynes in time to contest the layup (without fouling). Haynes misses it off iron, Turner rebounds and gets fouled. Then he hits two free throws (where was that free-throw poise against Texas Tech Elston?) and the Huskies go up 71-64.  When the buzzer sounded, the Huskies prevailed 76-70.

There were a few other close calls, because the Huskies had three turnovers in the last two minutes of the game! Quincy hit four clutch free throws and Gant hit two more. (As a Husky fan, you just knew Quincy wasn’t missing those free throws. He has turned into a really great foul shooter—.84% on the season). After the game, Quincy said, “It doesn’t always have to be pretty, just as long as you get it done….”

The Huskies ‘got it done’ against the Beavers on Thursday—and no, it wasn’t pretty.  Still, we are 1-0 and tied for first in the Pac-10. Oregon is next, and they looked great against WSU on Thursday. Big game this Saturday…