Dec. 8, 2012
SEATTLE - It's raining on Husky basketball right now. Hard.
First, Deonte Burton rained consecutive, almost-ridiculous, World B. Free-like 3-point shots late in Saturday's schizophrenic game. That erased UW's comeback from 18 points down into an improbable lead. Nevada's rainmaker drained his second 3 with 1:58 remaining from just about the Wolf Pack bench after the Huskies' C.J. Wilcox flew at him and actually tipped the shot.
That was the final surge that sent Washington to its third non-conference loss at home inside a month, 76-73 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
It rained on the Dawgs (4-4) well into Saturday night, too.
Rained hate, that is.
"We right now know what to do, at both ends of the floor. It's a matter of us doing it with consistency," coach Lorenzo Romar said.
He has heard so many Chicken Littles tell him about the sky above him so many times before during his two outright league titles, six NCAA tournament appearances, and three Sweet 16 runs over 11 seasons at Washington.
"The main thing we have to do is keep our guys believing and keep everyone's head up and not believing the talk, the peripheral talk on the side. We can't believe that," Romar said. "Because we've been in the position too many times where I always joke they have been ready to shut down the program - and we've gone on to win the league, we've gone on to the Sweet 16, we've gone on to the NCAA tournament.
"So our focus on coaches is to make sure our team doesn't listen to the negativity that is going on around them -- amongst our group that we believe in ourselves.
"And as we do that, guys come back and we are healthy, in our roles, everybody is contributing, we'll be fine."
Romar sees a frustrated, not-yet-healthy team that had its roaring rally from behind over 7 wild minutes of the second half take too much out of it to win at the end.
Wilcox scored 21 points after missing eight of his first 11 shots. Scott Suggs returned from a three-week absence to set a career high with 19. Abdul Gaddy scored 16, including a startling, monster slam with his right-hand and a roar that brought the Huskies all the way back into a tie at 55 with 7:35 left.
With 5:21 to go Suggs swished a 3 from the left side. The Huskies actually had the lead - and ol' Hec Ed was roaring.
But Burton, who burned UW with 31 points last December when Nevada beat the Huskies in overtime in Reno, burned them again for 29 more points Saturday. Romar termed Burton's last two 3s "super-human."
Washington, which has won four consecutive conference regular-season or tournament titles, lost a third non-conference home game inside a month for the first time since December 2000.
"Yeah, there might be negative talk out there, but I've been here a long time; this is my fifth year," Suggs said. "We've slow starts to seasons before and gone on to win the conference and make the NCAA tournament. And I feel every bit as confident in this team.
"We can pick it up and be a good team. We are the ones in here working. We are confident we can be a good team."
Suggs returned from a sprained foot Saturday to play a career high-tying 35 minutes - because he had to. The co-captain had been out since playing Nov. 18 against Ohio State.
Shawn Kemp Jr. had five points and four rebounds in his season debut. The 6-foot-9 sophomore whom Romar calls UW's best low-post scoring threat returned a week or two earlier than expected from a torn patella tendon, though he didn't get the ball often enough inside in his return game.
But just when the Huskies appeared to becoming whole, slashing redshirt freshman guard Andrew Andrews went out. He sprained his ankle Thursday in practice and was wearing a walking boot with crutches Saturday. He could miss Thursday's game at Seattle U., as well.
"It was like, this is our luck this season," Wilcox said, rolling his eyes.
Yet as Romar said, the missed defensive assignments that contributed to the 18-point hole had nothing to do with injuries.
Gaddy went out in the first half with three fouls, sitting for 10 of the first 20 minutes. Without Andrews, Wilcox and Suggs had to run the offense as well as be the leading scorers.
As Gaddy said, "That's not their strengths."
That substandard arrangement and sub-30-percent shooting for most of the first 24 minutes was how Washington trailed 53-35 with 15:22 remaining. "We dug ourselves such a big hole that we had no margin for error," Romar said.
Wilcox was like every other Husky. He started 3 for 10 but made five of his final six shots as UW staged the second miraculous second-half rally this week in this arena. The Huskies women's team rallied from 19 down in the second half to beat San Diego State Wednesday night.
The men missed 15 of their first 18 shots Saturday. They were unsure whom to guard in their zone defense, which they went to in order to preserve Suggs and Wilcox from fatigue and fouls. In many ways UW was fortunate to be down by only eight at halftime.
Then Suggs and Wilcox made consecutive 3-pointers. Gaddy made a rare dunk while getting hit from below and crashing into the basket stand. Nevada kept clanging and turning the ball over. And then Gaddy exploded from the right wing, sped through a defender and slammed the ball through with a thunderous right arm thrust.
He went Tacoma pal Isaiah Thomas-like after he landed, roaring and punching the air. The crowd, asleep and indifferent for the first 25 minutes, went bonkers. And the score was tied at 55.
"I wanted to try to dunk to give our team some energy," Gaddy said. "I think that gave our team a lift. We thought it was (a game changer).
When Suggs hit a 3 from the left corner UW finally had the lead, 61-60.
But then Burton went bananas. And the hate clouds engulfed the Huskies - from the outside, that is.
"The negativity - I think we have good character guys - I don't think it will come from within. It's what they read and what they hear. You keep hearing that stuff long enough, if you are not strong minded, you can start believing," Romar said.
"We have to guard against that, because guys are going to start hearing it. We've heard it before, when we've been in a situation when things aren't going well.
"No, we're not going to shut (the program) down tonight."
A minute later, the Huskies actually had the lead - and ol' Hec Ed was roaring.
But Nevada's Deonte Burton drained consecutive, almost-ridiculous 3-point rainbows late for the final surge that sent Washington to its third non-conference home loss inside a month, 76-73 Saturday at late-awakening Alaska Airlines Arena.
"We dug ourselves such a big hole that we had no margin for error," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said, bemoaning missed defensive assignments in zone during an ugly first half.
"A good team came out and beat us with two super-human 3-point shots by Deonte Burton."
Wilcox was like everyone else for Washington (4-4). He started 3 for 10 but made five of his final six shots as UW staged the second miraculous second-half rally this week in this arena.
The Huskies women's team rallied for 19 down in the second half to beat San Diego State Wednesday night.
But Burton, who burned UW with 31 points last December when Nevada beat the Huskies in overtime in Reno, burned them again for 29 more points Saturday.
The Huskies' men missed 15 of their first 18 shots to fall so far behind. They were fortunate to be down only 8 at halftime.
Suggs returned from a sprained foot. The co-captain had been out since playing Nov. 18 against Ohio State.
Shawn Kemp Jr. had five points and four rebounds in his season debut. The 6-foot-9 sophomore whom coach Lorenzo Romar calls UW's best low-post scoring threat returned a week or two earlier than expected from a torn patella tendon.
But just when the Huskies appeared to becoming whole, slashing redshirt freshman guard Andrew Andrews went out. He sprained his ankle Thursday in practice and was wearing a walking boot with crutches during Saturday's game. He could miss Thursday's game at Seattle U., as well.
Check back here soon to GoHuskies.com for updates and reaction.