Gant’s Moustache: Thoughts on the Dawgs' Critical Loss at Cal


The California Bears (16-8) smacked the Washington Huskies (16-8) in the mouth at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California on Thursday night. (So, why does my jaw hurt?) Cal shot the lights out in a 93-81 win that really wasn’t even that close. In the biggest game of the year, the Huskies were unimpressive. The road curse continues.

The Huskies came out with a bit more energy than in recent road losses, but ran out of steam late in the first half. Cal went on a run and led by 15 or more during most of the rest of the game. The Huskies made a semi-run late, but it wasn’t nearly enough and the game was never in question.

Recapping this game isn’t really necessary—and frankly, I can’t recap it because I will vomit.  If you didn’t see it, you lucked out. But, if you did catch either of the Huskies’ games in the desert, or the beat-down against USC, then you know what happened in this game because it was a déjà vu Huskies road loss:

  1. We don’t play team basketball and take crazy shots while running, spinning, or falling backward.  I think I saw Venoy try to shoot one while dancing. We share the ball at home; we hog the ball on the road. We attack the basket at home; we fade away from it on the road.
  2. We don’t play with enthusiasm or aggressiveness on the road. We look terrified.
  3. Somebody on the other team has the best game of their career during every road loss. (In this case, it was Randlel, who was nothing short of UNBELIEVABLE.)
  4. We start to play well when we look up at the scoreboard and realize we are no longer close enough to win the game.

I want to make sure I say something positive for all you fans that are hurting out there. So here it goes: Matthew Bryan-Amaning played a really good game. Not only was he physical in the post, he actually made some shots and was one of the few Huskies who seemed to play hard every minute he was in the game.

Quincy Pondexter always gives 100% effort and is fearless, but he didn’t have it tonight. The rest of the Huskies played tentative basketball, waiting for someone to bail them out, but nobody did. The following are the negative thoughts in my head right now. I put them in italics for all you “on the ledge” Husky fans. Don’t read the italics if you don’t want to feel even worse than you do right now.

Tyreese Breshers was a non-factor. Justin Holiday laid brick after brick. Scott Suggs was Scott Suggs circa 2008. Isaiah Thomas played well offensively, but played lazy defense. He was completely outplayed by Randle, who scored 33 and is the most impressive player I have seen in the Pac-10 this year, not named Quincy Pondexter. Abdul Gaddy was horrible—this was his worst game: bad decisions offensively, lost on defense, and I hold him personally responsible for the 8-0 Cal run late in the first half. Abdul turned it over, took a wild shot, and lost his man on three consecutive possessions. And THAT run was the one the Huskies never recovered from. Venoy shot well from the line again, but was horrible defensively. Somebody needs to tell him that defense is not entirely about selling out for the steal. He lets up so many easy baskets—it drives me crazy. For every steal he gets, he gives up an uncontested layup, or forces a teammate to help on his guy, leaving someone else open—usually for a three.

After the last four games, I was suckered into believing in these guys again. I really was. I still love this team, but have to vent after these road losses. If I never saw them play at home, I would watch these road games, cheer on our guys and move on. But I have seen this team play at such a high level that I just can’t stomach the way they play during these road games. Ugh!

Well, I guess these are your 2009-2010 Washington “Jekyll-and-Hyde” Huskies: a top twenty team at home and an absolute mess on the road. Which brings me to the really sad part of this post. . .

What does this loss mean?: Most significantly, we lost the Pac-10 regular season title tonight, barring an absolute miracle and a collapse of monumental proportions from Cal (who plays three of their last six games at home). Cal now has a two game lead and there just aren’t enough games left for us to catch them.

Pac-10 Tourney aside, I don’t think that anything short of winning out the regular season schedule (at Stanford, vs. USC, vs. UCLA, at Washington St., at Oregon, and at Oregon St.) is going to be enough to punch us a ticket to the Big Dance.

Do I think we can do it? Maybe. . . but it will begin (and potentially end) at Stanford on Saturday. A road win would go a long way for our confidence, and give us a chance to make a run.