No NIT for Huskies

NIT says no to UW, meaning Huskies will not play in any postseason tournament for the first time in 7 years

Staff writerMarch 17, 2014 

For the first time since 2007, the Washington men’s basketball team will not play in the postseason.

After finishing 17-15 overall and 9-9 in the Pac-12, then losing in the first round of the conference tournament, the Huskies had long been eliminated from NCAA tournament contention.

But the 32-team National Invitation Tournament didn’t extend an invite to UW, either, so the Huskies’ season is officially over.

Six Pac-12 teams were invited to the NCAA tournament: Arizona (as a No. 1 seed), UCLA (4), Oregon (7), Colorado (8), Arizona State (10) and Stanford (10). Two more Pac-12 teams accepted bids to the NIT — California as a No. 2 seed and Utah as a No. 5.

The Huskies played in the NIT in each of the past two seasons. They lost in the first round at BYU in 2013,

and they advanced to the semifinals in 2012 — after winning the regular-season Pac-12 title but still missing the NCAA tournament — before losing to Minnesota in New York.

In Lorenzo Romar’s 12-year tenure as Washington’s coach, the Huskies have missed the postseason three times — in 2003, 2007 and 2014.

Romar’s teams have played in the NCAA tournament six times (2004-06 and 2009-11), in the NIT twice, and once in the College Basketball Invitational (2008).

The Huskies were not interested in playing in the CBI this season.

After compiling a 76-30 overall record (36-18 in conference play) from 2009-11, the Huskies are 59-42 (32-22 conference) the past three seasons.

Washington’s exclusion from the postseason also means the careers of seniors C.J. Wilcox and Perris Blackwell are over.

Wilcox, who led UW in scoring with 18.3 points per game this season, leaves as the second-leading scorer in school history with 1,880 points. He also holds the UW career record for 3-pointers with 301.

The Huskies dug themselves a hole from the start this season, losing three of their first five games, including an embarrassing 86-72 home defeat to UC Irvine.

A 3-1 start to Pac-12 play increased optimism, and UW had a chance to improve its conference record to 6-3 with a game at reeling Washington State on Feb. 1. But the Huskies lost, then proceeded to drop four of their next five to slip back toward mediocrity.

They were hampered by a lack of depth in the frontcourt, a problem compounded by the loss of sophomore forward Jernard Jarreau to an anterior cruciate ligament tear in UW’s first game of the season.

Defense also was a problem for too much of the season. Washington finished last in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage defense (47.5). At times the Huskies struggled to contain dribble penetration even after altering their defense to put an emphasis on protecting the rim.

Returning next season are the team’s second- and third-leading scorers, freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (13.4 points per game) and sophomore guard Andrew Andrews (12.3).

The Huskies add 7-foot center Robert Upshaw, a Fresno State transfer who redshirted this season, and incoming freshmen Donaven Dorsey (a 6-7 guard from Timberline High School) and Tristan Etienne (a 6-10 forward from Abbotsford, B.C.). According to Scout.com, the Huskies have received an oral commitment from Quevyn Winters, a 6-foot-6 junior-college transfer.

christian.caple@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple

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