SEATTLE — The last time the University of Washington men’s basketball team woke up with this bad a taste in its mouth, the Huskies took out their frustrations in a constructive way, drubbing California 92-71 two days after the loss to Stanford.
UW’s two previous games after
losses were also victories, by a combined margin of 55 points.
So if the loss to Washington State seemed as if it might derail UW’s quest for a Pac-10 title, recent history should tell a different tale.
“When we do bring it, obviously, our guys really bring it,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Our one loss we had in conference (at Stanford), the guys were really focused the next game.”
A somewhat humbled yet refocused Washington team returns to the court tonight to face Oregon State in Corvallis. After the loss to WSU, the 20th-ranked Huskies (15-5 overall, 7-2 in the Pac-10) couldn’t get back on the court soon enough.
“It (stinks) when you lose and you have days to think about it,” junior guard Isaiah Thomas said. “It just adds fuel to the fire more. It makes you want to do that much more; it makes you want to work that much harder in practice. Coming into the game (tonight), you want to take it out on that next opponent.”
Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, the Huskies are 13-5 in games following a loss. Their only losing streak this season lasted just two games, and that came against top-10 teams Kentucky and Michigan State on back-to-back days in the Maui Invitational 21/2 months ago.
None of UW’s losses seemed to carry quite the emotional weight of the WSU game Sunday night. The Cougars breathed life back into their NCAA tournament chances while outplaying UW for most of the night. The Huskies’ top two scorers — Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning — combined to go 4-for-21 from the field in that game.
Bryan-Amaning couldn’t do much against WSU’s zone defense, so there is reason for concern when the Huskies take on Oregon State and its 1-3-1 zone tonight. The Beavers (8-12, 3-6) gave UW problems for 20 minutes in a meeting four weeks ago, but the Huskies eventually pulled away for a 103-72 win.
As for the WSU zone, Bryan-Amaning downplayed its role in the Huskies’ offensive struggles.
“I think if we play any other team with a zone like that, and we get the same shots, we’ll knock them down,” he said this week.
More than anything, the Huskies are just eager to face anyone. The Sunday loss stuck with them, particularly after the WSU fans stormed the court in post-game celebration.
“For myself, it bugged me all night,” UW’s Darnell Gant said of the 87-80 loss. “And I’m sure a lot of my teammates felt the same way. But at the same time, you can’t dwell on that because it will take a toll on you in the long run.”
A one-point loss to Stanford on Jan. 13 didn’t seem to have a negative affect on the Huskies, who bounced back from their first conference defeat with a 21-point win at Cal three days later. Romar noted after that game that his players had a business-like sense of focus in the hours leading up to the game at Cal, and the Huskies are approaching tonight’s bounce-back game with the same sense of purpose.
“For whatever reason,” Romar said, “when this team is really dialed in, this team can be pretty good.”
After the loss to WSU, the Huskies are certainly dialed in. Tonight, they’ll try to prove again just how good they can be.