Before we start to talk more about the days and weeks ahead, staff writer Tim Keeney takes a look back at the 2009/2010 season.
By Tim Keeney – Staff Writer
I’ll be honest. I don’t want to be writing this right now. To me, this post is the final nail in the coffin of the Huskies’ magical end-of-the-season run. It’s finally settling in that we won’t get to watch Husky basketball until November, and that’s pretty painful. But I’ll attempt to relive the season of ups and downs that made us cheer… and then cry… and then repeat that cycle all over again.
The Low Point: The pure frustration of losing our first six on the road, including a pair of 17-point losses to the Arizona schools, a buzzer-beater by a scrub in UCLA, and a 26 point laugher (er, crier) against USC, was certainly a low point. It got worse, though.
That 90-79 loss to Pac-10 bottom-feeder Oregon at home, where we were supposed to be at our best (and usually were), was simply horrendous. Combine the terrible play, and especially awful defense, with the fact that Oregon is one of our biggest rivals and things were certainly looking bleak at the beginning of Pac-10 play.
The High Point: Reeling off nine straight wins to win the Pac-10 Tournament and get into the Sweet-16 was the best stretch of the year — no question about that. The Huskies finally got everything to click in late February after a home loss to USC. They had everyone thinking another letdown was coming after an unbelievably bad first half in the first round against Oregon State, only to rally together to beat the Beavers, and then clobber Stanford. Then, they topped Cal in an instant classic for an automatic NCAA Tourney bid.
Another classic against Marquette, and then a throttling of New Mexico, the number 8 team in the Nation, by 18, capped off the Husky high point. Those last three games truly were one of the best times to be a Husky — not just this year, but ever.
Quincy Pondexter: The heart of the team, not only on the court, where he improved his points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, and three point percentage (wow) from last year, but also off the court.
When things were going badly for the Huskies, Q-Pon wasn’t afraid to step up and point out that the team may have been too cocky after the early-season accolades they received. Quincy was the epitome of a senior leader, and was by far our most important player. Whether it was because of bad refs or not, Quincy had one of his worst games to end the season, which was unfortunate, and the only reason I’m downgrading him at all. Grade: A-
Isaiah Thomas: Coming off of a Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year campaign, many of us might have been expecting more statistically, but his season was still a success in my mind. I.T. improved his points, rebounds and assists, but his field goal percentage stayed the same. Most of these things were to be expected, since he carried a more primary role and got more minutes this year.
He did, however, disappear at times and often settled for jumpers when driving the lane would have been a better option. All in all, as the primary scorer next year, his decision-making and basketball IQ needs to improve. Grade: B
Matthew Bryan-Amaning: Ahhh, MBA, the man we all love to hate. I agree that he was frustrating at times, but even throughout the year when he was struggling, the low post moves were there. He. Just. Couldn’t. Finish.
Maybe the invisible lid was removed from the basket, or maybe something finally clicked during that nine-game winning streak, though, as he averaged 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, shooting 63 percent from the field. He was a key part of our late success. Grade: B-
Venoy Overton: He exemplified what the season was all about: ups and downs. There were times when he was terrific. He would play stellar defense and run the offense tremendously. There were also times when he got into foul trouble (which I’m fine with, as long as he plays as hard as he does). And there were times he played completely out of control on the offensive end. Remember the worst fastbreak in the history of fastbreaks against West Virginia? Even with all of his inconsistency, he was still a major spark, and probably the 6th Man of the Year in the Pac-10. Grade: B
Justin Holiday: The second-coming of Bobby Jones showed what he could do when he was finally inserted into the starting lineup in the middle of the season. And boy, did he take full advantage. He played tremendous defense, usually guarding (and shutting down) the other team’s star and he rebounded fantastically. He developed a solid mid-range jumper and showed in the NCAA Tourney that he could also shoot the three. And, he’s an underrated passer in my mind.
Improving on all of his stats from last year, J-Holla was probably the most pleasant surprise for the Huskies this year. Oh, and if I was a draft scout, I believe I would be inclined to use the phrase, “high motor” and “tremendous length.” If you haven’t guessed, I’m a Justin Holiday fan. And these days, who isn’t? Grade: A
Elston Turner: I know he also started to improve at the end of the year, but I was expecting more out of Turner during his Sophomore year. For the majority of the season, his one supposed strength, three-point shooting, was mediocre. He also tried to force it into the lane at times, only to turn it over or miss badly. His strength is to play within himself, shoot the three, and extend the defense for the guards to drive. He didn’t do that enough in my mind. Grade: C
Scott Suggs: Basically all the same stuff I said about Turner. I would actually like to see more minutes out of Suggs than Turner, but that may just be me. I feel like he is a tad smarter as a player, and plays a little better defense. But I’ll be fair… Grade: C
Abdul Gaddy: When I was 17, I think I was worrying about what I was going to do at my job at McDonald’s. Gaddy, though, was a McDonald’s All-American. There were HUGE expectations placed on him coming into this year. Too huge, it turned out.
Living up to that kind of hype would be hard for anyone, let alone the youngest player in the Pac-10. I’m not trying to provide excuses for him, however, because he flat out disappointed. He looked hesitant and slow at times and has a lot of improving to do. There were flashes, though, of the talent that’s clearly there. Hopefully Lorenzo Romar can get it out of him by next year. Grade: D
Tyreese Breshers: He showed at times that he can be a force down low and also showed that he still has a lot of improving to do. He gave some good minutes off the bench, but not too much more. Grade: C
Darnell Gant: The way Gant was used this year perplexed me. I liked Gant a lot in his freshman year. He’s got good size and can probably guard any position. He’s a solid rebounder and is another one fortunate enough to have one of those “good motors.” I’m sure we were all expecting more out of him this year, but I think he really benefited from playing next to Brockman in 2008/2009. Overall, a disappointing year. I think Romar was a little bit too inconsistent with his minutes, which may have hurt him a little bit. Grade: C-
Clarence Trent: Trent simply didn’t get to show us enough to really grade him. We’ll withhold a real grade for this season and simply give him a mark befitting his role on the football team. Grade: DE (for Defensive End)
Brendan Sherrer: Shot a solid 50 percent from the field, always got the crowd into the game, and we won every game that he played in. Grade: A+
Terrence Jones: I know Mr. Calipari is probably offering you plenty of fancy things to go to Kentucky, but I’m willing to give you an A++ if you commit to Washington. Just sayin’.
Thanks for coming!