Feb. 12, 2007
By Joshua Mayers
Now that's more like it.
Grabbing every stray rebound, diving to every loose ball, Washington flat out earned this weekend sweep. This is the effort we're used to watching when we come to Hec-Ed; this is the effort that can get the Huskies into the postseason.
If, by any chance, you were unsure as to how important this game was, all you had to do was watch coach Lorenzo Romar.
After freshman Adrian Oliver flung himself to the ground for the ball in front of the Husky bench, then called a timeout to keep possession, Romar was the first to pick the young guard up. The coach then wrapped Oliver up in a huge hug, clearly appreciative on the effort at his feet.
When Quincy Pondexter forced a Stanford turnover, Romar clapped his hands in enthusiastic support; when the team jogged to the bench during a timeout he was their loudest cheerleader.
But the Washington coach wasn't just out there to encourage. When the foul calls appeared to be going in Stanford's favor, Romar was going to make sure it didn't get out of hand.
At one point he looked straight into the eye of the official and demanded to know, "What's going on here?"
Sure, a few of the calls were questionable, but most were made correctly; Romar was determined to fight as hard as he could for this win.
It's not hard to see why the team loves him. It's not hard to see why the team is peaking in its defensive effort -- a concern Romar has addressed at every moment.
Amid this dominating performance on the court, the Dawg Pack was once again rocking, enlivening the full arena with a particularly rousing performance. We even got to see Romar empty the bench with two minutes remaining, a luxury no one could have imagined.
But it was the Washington defense that stole the show on Sunday.
In the second half, the visiting Cardinal barely scored 10 points before the reserves were sent in. Romar thought it was the most complete defensive effort of the season.
"Thank goodness we're back at home," Romar said.
In this five-game home winning streak we have begun to see the promise of potential fulfilled -- at a perfect time.
Overall, the Dawgs have now won five of their past six games. Pondexter said that everything is starting to click. A now-healthy Spencer Hawes added that it feels like things are falling into place.
Washington fans had better hope so. A poor effort this week -- like all weeks remaining -- will surely cancel any postseason plans for the Huskies.
Up next is Washington State -- the team that humiliated the Dawgs in Pullman earlier this year and a team Romar likened to a "machine," playing as well as it ever has.
After that is a cross-country trip to Pittsburgh, which has been a mainstay atop the rankings and, with ESPN providing the coverage, will be the Huskies' best chance to prove nationwide naysayers wrong.
Two more nationally ranked and respected opponents means two more opportunities for the Huskies to atone for early-season struggles.
But for now -- just like how Romar began his post-game comments -- it's all positives.