By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Many complaints end with the common thought that things could be worse.
Take any bemoaning about Washington’s up-and-down season that has pushed it out of the NCAA tournament’s purview.
Yes, the Huskies have their issues. After a 4-0 start to its Pacific-12 Conference schedule, Washington plummeted to its current troubled state of 7-8 in the Pac-12.
With C.J. Wilcox in a slump, Washington’s 3-point shooting is the worst in the conference. The Huskies are in severe danger of missing its NCAA invitation for the second consecutive season.
Those issues are trumped with a look across the state.
Washington State, which will play the Huskies today at Hec Edmundson Pavilion at 12:30 p.m., has lost eight in a row and 10 of 11.
The Cougars are last in the Pac-12 with a 2-13 conference record. They didn’t win in February.
Which makes it easy to think back to the Apple Cup. Washington’s mediocre season would have benefited from an expected win over the Cougars. Instead, Washington State put together a historic rally to win the Apple Cup and make the claim that a portion of the season had been salvaged as a result.
Cougars coach Ken Bone is trying to repair his basketball wreckage against any opposition. That today’s game is against Washington matters little.
“Any win right now would help salvage the season,” Bone said.
These two opened Pac-12 play against each other on Jan. 5 in the Pullman. The story that night was Desmond Simmons fronting and limiting Cougars leading scorer Brock Motum. Simmons leaned on Motum at the elbow with his hand held high, trying to deny him touches.
It worked. Washington took a 17-4 lead before hanging on to counter the football team’s collapse.
“Prior to the Washington game, I’m not sure (our non-conference schedule) prepared us for a Pac-12 game against a team like Washington and the way they guarded Brock,” Bone said. “Here we are two months down the road, we’ll be more prepared if they are denying him the ball.”
One of the key players for Washington State in that game, Mike Ladd, who scored 15 points, is “very doubtful,” Bone said.
His absence because of an injured knee will force the spiraling Cougars to play with an even shorter bench.
Washington, meanwhile, will be starting the first of three consecutive home games to close the regular season following an extended break.
The Huskies have not played since its 68-59 victory over Arizona State on Feb. 23.
“I’m happy about that,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “As we told our team, we’ve got to not let this week get away from us without trying to take advantage and being as sharp as we can be until the next time that we play.”
That comes this afternoon, when Washington hopes to look at the other team and be happy it’s not in the same spot.