Darnell Gant and Scott Suggs Have a Chance to Make Husky History!


Did you know that the Washington Huskies have never before gone to 4 straight NCAA tournaments? That’s right, UW is sitting on its all-time record of three consecutive appearances right now. That means no UW basketball player has ever gone to the tournament every year of their eligibility. That also means that Darnell Gant and Scott Suggs have a chance to make Husky History!

Just think about it…

As revered as Marv Harshman is amongst Husky history afficionados, he only took UW to three tournaments (1976, 1984, and 1985) in 14 seasons. Andy Russo took over that Husky team in 1986 that included Chris Welp, Phil Zevenbergen, and Paul Fortier and made the NCAA tournament for its first three straight appearances streak, but then things began to fall apart. In fact, Andy Russo lead UW to just a 22-35 record in his final two seasons after destroying what Marv Harshman had built.

Lynn Nance was even worse in his short tenure before Bob Bender came in and began to built something positive again. However, he only took UW to two NCAA tournaments (1998 and 1999) in his 9 years at the helm. Current coach Lorenzo Romar took UW to three straight appearances in 2004-2006 before they regressed in 2007 and missed the Big Dance for two straight years.

Going way back, the legendary Tippy Dye took UW to its only Final Four in 1953 and also to the Elite Eight in 1951 behind Bob Houbregs who’s jersey hangs from the rafters at Hec Ed. Interestingly, UW also won the conference title in 1952 with a record of 14-2 in the conference and 25-6 overall, but for some reason did not participate in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately for the Huskies, during Dye’s fourth season, they dropped to 8-18 and would not return to the Big Dance until 1975 and 5 coaches later.

If you go back to the year before Tippy Dye was hired, Art McLarney did have the Huskies at 19-10 and finishing for a tie for 2nd in the conference in 1950. But, there was no invite that year either. But, it was pretty difficult in those days to make the NCAA tournament as between 1939 and 1950 only eight teams participated, from 1951-1952 it was only 16, and between 1953-1974 it was between 22-25 teams.

Now, if you want to go way back in the time machine, probably the best time in Husky Hoops where 4 straight tournament appearances would have been possible, had there been an NCAA tournament, would have been in the 1920’s and 30’s under the famous Hec Edmundson. Between 1922 and 1939, UW won the conference title 10 times and finished 2nd 5 times in 17 years.

So, what does this all mean?

First of all, it means that Darnell Gant and Scott Suggs have a chance to be the first Huskies in history to play in four straight NCAA tournaments. Lorenzo Romar has a chance to be the first coach to lead the team to four straight tournaments. Romar has already led UW to 6 tournaments, which is the most ever by one coach. At this stage Romar has 6 appearances in 9 years and all other UW coaches combined have 10 in the other 63 years of the NCAA tournament before before Romar.

As for Gant and Suggs, this little bit of trivia that may (hopefully) fall by the wayside in the future. It seems as though the way the program is headed that UW ought to continue to make the NCAA tournament for years to come. It may (again hopefully) become common place for players to expect to play in the Big Dance every year they are eligible.

However, you just never know how things will turn out. After those two straight Sweet 16’s in 2005 and 2006, and with touted recruits like Spencer Hawes, Quincy Pondexter, and Adrian Oliver coming in, things looks unstoppable at Montlake and UW was on its way to achievements never before seen. Instead, the wheels fell off the bus. Martell Webster went straight to the NBA instead of coming to UW, Hawes was sick most of the season, and the team just never gelled as they limped along to a 19-13 record, missing both the NCAA tournament and even the NIT.

The moral of the story here is that you take what you can get and focus on the here and now. It is up to Gant and Suggs to provide the senior leadership to this young and somewhat untested groups of players if they want to get to that record 4th straight appearance. But, a few monster dunks and 30 point games by Terrance Ross wouldn’t hurt either…