The Huskies' attitude in the losing locker room of the Carrier Dome last night was disappointed, but not crushed.
Other than Quincy Pondexter, every player in that locker room is likely to return next season, and there seemed to be a real feeling that they may accomplish more next season than they did this year.
Even coach Lorenzo Romar, no more than 20 minutes after the final buzzer, had this to say about the 2010-11 season:
"For once in a long time, we'll have three seniors and three or four juniors. We'll be an older, more experienced team. The success we had on the road at the end of the year, hopefully we can carry that into next year.
"But you know, we also have some guys like Justin Holiday, look how he played (Thursday). He may be able to step up big next year. Matthew Bryan-Amaning finished the year strong. He can take a big step. Tyreese Breshers could be healthy, be able to go all year. C.J. Wilcox sat out. We have recruits coming in."
I thought that word -- recruits -- plural -- was interesting.
But Romar also has said that Wilcox has the potential to become an all-Pac-10 performer. Since he sat out this season, I asked him in the end of this season also seemed like the start of next season.
"I feel like I definitely need to start working now, not later, because I definitely don’t want my team to experience this again," he said. "We came back two years in a row. I think we can do it again next year. We only lose one – a pretty important player – but I think we can get together and do the same things.
"I think the outside shooting, I can help there. And I’m working on my defense and everything. I think it’s more of a team thing. When everybody’s on point, it really doesn’t matter who is out there. We all do the same thing.
"We know what we have to do, because we pulled it out at the right time. We came together at the right time, started playing well. We know what we have to do, and we hope it carries over into next year."
I also spoke to Clarence Trent, who got modest playing time this season, but who also is off-the-charts athletic and who could certainly fill some of the minutes -- not to mention some of the points and rebounds -- fills this season by Pondexter.
"I wish I could have played, but it wasn’t my time," he said. Hopefully next year is my time to show what I can do and help the team win and get to the Elite Eight next year.
"I’m always getting better. Becoming a college athletes, there’s only one way, it’s up. You’re only going to get better. I feel I’ve gotten a lot better. Hopefully I’ll get to show it next year.
"Hopefully I can take that position and show Coach Romar that I can – not specifically fill Quincy’s shoes, but do what I do best."
I also spoke to Venoy Overton, pointing out that in about a year he'll be a departing senior -- just like Pondexter -- and if that focuses his attention to go out with a bang.
"It’s just trying to get as far as you can," he said. "You won’t be looking back and be hurting as much if you know that you gave it your all. That’s all I’m looking at next year: Giving it my all, knowing it’s my last go-round. I won’t be too sad after next year, if I know I gave it my all."
About a month ago, I would have projected Arizona at the early Pac-10 favorite for next season. But looking at what happened to the Huskies at the end of this season, looking at how many upperclassment they'll have, I'm kinda thinking Washington now projects as the team to beat.