In yesterday's blog post below, we took a look at general expectations for how the UW football and basketball teams might do next season.
Given those baseline expectations, here today are some thoughts about how each team might exceed them, or fall short. Your thoughts once again are welcome. And then I'll mix both parts together for a story in the Monday paper:
Underachieves if: It wasn't the coaching. If the Huskies' talent level was anywhere near as low as it appeared last season, then Steve Sarkisian and his new staff are going to have to recruit their way out of this hole. That would mean not only another long season, but – the last thing any UW fan wants to consider -- yet another rebuilding program starting at square one. Or Sarkisian proves to have been a fine assistant -- and a terrific Twitterer – but needs time to grow into a head job. This team still seems to have no chance of winning with anyone but Locker under center. The kicking questions aren't adequately answered. And the problem with having a veteran offensive line in 2008 is that you have a reworked offensive line in 2009.
Overachieves if: The talent Willingham recruited blossoms in his absence, as it did in Charlie Weis' first season at Notre Dame. Sarkisian's offense translates effectively from the hyper-talented Trojans to the rebuilding Huskies. Nick Holt's defense hits, hurts and forces turnover. Locker stays on the field and fulfills his potential as Tim Tebow Northwest. E.J. Savannah stays in Sarkisian's good graces and therefore stays on the field. The potential of enough young tailbacks and receivers turns into production.
Underachieves if: Brockman is even more irreplaceable than we currently understand. Perhaps the truest thought spoken into my digital recorder this season was Romar's reminder than Brockman's contributions were undervalued. Of course, everyone said they realized his value. But his full value – on and off the court -- may come fully clear only in his absence. And there could be as much trouble from the loss of his leadership as from the loss of those 15 points and 11 rebounds. The team also could take a step back if Isaiah Thomas doesn't shift as cleanly from point guard to scoring guard as Justin Dentmon did. And more trouble could brew if the members of a potentially crowded backcourt – Thomas, Venoy Overton, Elston Tuner, Abdul Gaddy and others – don't accept their bench time as productively as Overton did this season.
Overachieves if: Pondexter becomes a Pac-10 player of the year candidate and potential lottery pick. All that backcourt talent meshes. Overton and Darnell Gant add some offense while retaining their existing virtues. Matthew Bryan-Amaning learns to finish what his often-dazzling footwork starts. Juco transfer Charles Garcia proves Pac-10-ready on the court and in the classroom. Nearly forgotten guard Scott Suggs blossoms as a sophomore, and nearly forgotten forward Tyreese Breshers becomes a new Jamaal Williams.