LOS ANGELES – Perhaps it’s fitting that in the city where the word “three-peat” was born, then strangely trademarked and monetized, the Washington Huskies will be going for one of their own.
The Huskies will need to win three games in three days for the three-peat. There’s no big secret to navigating that run. They know it. They’ve done it.
“You have to make sure you are fresh and rested,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “You have to defend. If your legs do get weary and the ball doesn’t go into the basket, you gotta be able to guard. If you don’t guard in this tournament, you won’t win.”
Washington will begin its quest to win a third straight conference tournament title when it steps on the floor today at noon to face the eighth-seeded Oregon State Beavers, who advanced to the quarterfinal game with a 69-64 win over Washington State on Wednesday.
The Huskies will try to defeat the Beavers for the third time after sweeping them in the regular season.
It will be difficult for Washington because the Beavers are one of the few teams in the Pacific-12 Conference who can match the Huskies’ athleticism.
“I’d like to think we match up well against them; but once again, that is a team that’s had our number twice this year, so I can’t say that fully,” OSU head coach Craig Robinson said.
It’s not something many teams can do. Washington overwhelms players with its athleticism. Few teams have anyone as gifted as Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten, C.J. Wilcox or Aziz N’Diaye.
“Arguably three pros, maybe even four pros on that team, so we’re going to have to really execute our defensive plan as much as our offensive plan,” Robinson said.
That defensive plan includes throwing several zone defensive looks at the Huskies. But it won’t be anything Washington hasn’t seen.
The whole situation is familiar for the Huskies. They need to win games, possibly win the tournament to reach the NCAA tournament.
Romar still won’t feel comfortable that his team has earned an NCAA tournament bid regardless of what happens in Los Angeles, despite winning the Pac-12 regular season title.
“We need to win some games. I don’t know if we’re a slam dunk for the tournament,” Romar said. “That’s how we felt going in the last two years.”
As the No. 1 seed, Washington is considered the favorite. But Las Vegas oddsmakers picked California as the favorite going into the tournament.
“I’m definitely not saying, ‘Look out Pac-12 here we come,’ ” Romar said. “This is going to be a tough, tough tournament starting out with our first game. On paper, in terms of wins and losses, we are the No. 1 seed, but beyond that you’ve got to go play the game. It doesn’t mean anything.”
Washington hopes the experience of having done it the last two years will help. Players seem confident with the task at hand.
“It takes a lot of focus, so you have to stick together,” sophomore shooting guard Wilcox said. “Things happen, especially three games in three days with no practice just go out and play.”
Washington won’t be satisified with a win or two to cement their NCAA tourney bid – if that even does it. The Huskies want to win the whole thing.
“We got to play like we got to win or we’re not in,” said freshman Tony Wroten. “We’re going to take it as we got to win every game.”
Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 email@example.com
OREGON STATE (18-13) VS. WASHINGTON (20-8)
12:10 p.m., Staples Center.
TV: Root Sports. Radio: 950-AM, 102.9-FM.
Series: Washington leads, 154-136, dating to first meeting in 1904. UW is 1-1 in postseason against OSU. The schools met in the 2010 quarterfinals and UW prevailed, 59-52. Washington swept Oregon State this season, 95-80 at home on Dec. 29 and 75-72 in Corvallis on Feb. 12.
Devon Collier F13.05.21.761.462.9
Scouting report: At this point in the season, there are no secrets about what either team will do. Washington knows that Oregon State will play a mixture of zone defense, including some full-court pressure, and the half-court 1-3-1 trapping defense. OSU knows that Washington will play the pressure man-to-man defense that head coach Lorenzo Romar loves, but sprinkle in some zone looks, particularly when streaky 3-point shooter Ahmad Starks is not on the floor. Offensively, Oregon State defeated Washington State despite getting just four points from Jared Cunningham. Of all the teams in the Pacific-12 Conference, OSU might be one of the few that can’t match Washington athletically. Besides the ultra-talented Cunningham, coach Craig Robinson has great length up front in 6-9 sophomore Devon Collier and 6-10 freshman Eric Moreland. Both will be factors rebounding. OSU has enough depth to withstand the rigors of playing back-to-back nights. Washington won’t have the benefit of having played a game in the tournament. It shouldn’t matter since four of Washington’s five starters were on the same floor a year ago and helping the Huskies win back-to-back tourney titles.
Next: Winner plays semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday, Staples Center.
Ryan Divish, staff writer