The road to the NCAA Tournament is still wide open for Washington basketball, they just have to seize the amazing opportunity they have in front of them
It might sound crazy, but even sitting at 3-12 in Pac-12 play this year, Washington basketball still has an opportunity to win the Pac-12 Championship. The conference determines a regular-season champion, and a tournament champion, with only the tournament champion getting an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
All Mike Hopkins and his uber-talented team have to do is win four games in four days. It’s not going to be easy, but if the Huskies can find a way to close out games, they’re unstoppable. Remember, this team held an 18 point lead against Oregon, a 12 point lead against Stanford, and also came from behind to beat Baylor, who was the #1 team in the country for five consecutive weeks.
Nahziah Carter stepped up in a huge way against Cal, giving the team a lot of energy right off the bat, scoring Washington’s first seven points in their last game. If he can continue to play at a high level, and knock down a shot to end a run or late in the shot clock, the Huskies will be unstoppable.
Hopkins has continued to bring Jaden McDaniels off the bench, and when he can stay out of foul trouble, the five-star freshman has proven that he can be a catalyst at both ends of the floor. McDaniels’ offensive game has started to turn the corner late in the year, and if he can continue to be a consistent perimeter threat, it’ll open up a lot for Isaiah Stewart down low.
Speaking of Stewart, the Huskies still have the best freshman in the country, and that counts for a lot. The energetic, passionate, all-around excellent player puts his heart and soul into every touch and every defensive possession for the Huskies, and he deserves to be rewarded for it. If the Huskies can continue to shoot the ball from the perimeter the same way they did against Cal, Stewart will see far more one on one opportunities in the paint.
The Huskies have proven that they have what it takes to get out to big leads, they just haven’t been able to hold them, usually due to long second-half scoring droughts and poor offensive execution, which allowed leads to shrink or deficits to increase late in the ballgame, taking all the momentum away from the young team.
Hopkins and his squad have three more games to get right, and maybe even rise out of the cellar in the Pac-12 if they can sweep their final three games and the Cougs lose out. With the talent on this team, and the way they seem to be coming together on the offensive end, anything is possible.