Huskies’ season over after UW does not receive an invitation to NIT

  • By Christian Caple The News Tribune
  • Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:34pm
  • SportsSports

For the first time since 2007, the Washington Huskies 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 (NIT) 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). And two more Pac-12 teams, California and Utah, accepted bids to the NIT, Cal 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 Brigham Young in 2013, and advanced to the semifinals in 2012 — after winning the regular-season Pac-12 championship but missing the NCAA tournament — before losing to Minnesota in New York.

In Lorenzo Romar’s 12-year tenure as Washington coach, the Huskies have missed the postseason three times — in 2003, 2007 and now in 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) during 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 UW’s 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 of this season, losing three of their first five games, including an embarrassing 86-72 home loss to UC-Irvine in their second game of the season.

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 road game at reeling Washington State on Feb. 1. But the Huskies lost that game, then lost 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 was also a problem for too much of the season. Washington finished last in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage defense (47.5), and at times struggled to contain dribble penetration even after altering its 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 also add 7-foot center Robert Upshaw, a Fresno State transfer who redshirted this season, and incoming freshmen Donaven Dorsey (a 6-foot-6 guard from Timberline High School) and Tristan Etienne (a 6-foot-10 forward from Abbotsford, British Columbia). According to Scout.com, the Huskies have also received an oral commitment from Quevyn Winters, a 6-foot-6 junior-college transfer.

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