Hoops wins bookending ‘Husker wallop make purple the hot color
The frequent recipient of hand-me-downs, our sports market is not used to owning something cool outright.
Such as the Southern California sports market in 2010.
All those painted-on suntans look good accessorized in purple and gold.
Happy Old Year.
The Huskies basketball team won at UCLAs Pauley Pavilion 74-63 Friday afternoon for what seems like the first time since Bob Houbregs was in knickers. Wednesday, they beat the Trojans 73-67 at USC, a team that beat them twice last season.
The hoops double bracketed the football teams win Thursday in San Diegos Holiday Bowl over Nebraska. The Cornhuskers and their fans could not have been more surprised had they awakened in bed with a family of water buffaloes.
Owing partly to the random coincidence of having three games in three days in geographic proximity, the Washington trifecta is unprecedented.
Not to mention nearly unfathomable.
As hoops coach Lorenzo Romar put it Friday for the entirety of Clan Purple:
I couldnt be prouder.
Taking a longer look, the football team was 2-0 in the regular season in California (winning at Cal and USC) and the hoopsters are 5-0 going back to the three wins last March that earned them the Pac-10 tourney championship.
So renaming the state Baja Washington does not seem entirely inappropriate, although before annexation, there must be an insistence that the citizens take out the trash, such as the Kardashians.
As far as great weeks go, it gets no better for a college sports program that is viewed, right or wrong, mostly by the fates of its high-profile teams.
An argument can be made the hoops double among hostiles and traditional nemeses was at least as remarkable as the football triumph, given that Washington was 3-44 at Pauley entering Fridays game, and had to go OT to win Wednesday.
But the Huskies hoopsters were forecasted to be formidable this season, so success was not unanticipated. For the football team, triumph against Nebraska, a 14-point favorite, could not have been foreseen even with the Hubble telescope.
What was readily observable was that complacency was the Cornhuskers biggest foe, owing to the fact that they obliterated Washington at Husky Stadium three months earlier and looked upon the rematch as others might see a New Years Eve of C-Span.
Still . . . seven points? And 189 yards of offense? And 102 yards in penalties? Jeez. As the head coach, Bo Pelini, put it: Ridiculous.
Theres not showing up, and then theres not showing up. This was the full too-stoned-to-sing Jim Morrison concert bailout.
Conversely, the Huskies were amped, but mere passion does not make up their deficiency in talent.
Bridging that gap fell to Steve Sarkisian and his coaches, who not only cadged four consecutive wins the longest streak since 2001 from their battered outfit, they manipulated the players and strategy Thursday so that their inevitable mistakes didnt kill their chances.
Two missed field goals and two failed attempts on fourth-and-1 normally are the kinds of shortfalls from which upset bids do not recover. Yet making no turnovers, allowing no sacks and finding many able defenders where previously there were few were coaching feats of Jamesian proportions.
The ability to make the most of extra bowl practices was a hallmark of the Don James era. Taking it a step further Thursday, Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt managed to coach up a profound liability, the defensive line, into an asset. And they seemed to have discovered a force in tackle Alameda Taamu, who came up big in more than pounds.
To pull off an upset is one thing. To lead wireto-wire and win the scrimmage-line beatdown is, for this team, astonishing, even if the Huskers were napping in the combines cab. The theme of dominance is particularly relevant not only from the rally from 0-12 in 2008, but from midseason, when they lost consecutive games to Pac-10 powers Oregon, Stanford and Arizona by a combined 138-30.
To keep college kids from losing faith at a fast-fading 3-6 is a splendid achievement, particularly when they had so few previous reference points for success.
The football triumph was a long-sought breakthrough. Not that it guarantees a Rose Bowl anytime soon, but it offers proof that the right direction has been chosen, which makes it a pivot point in team history.
Coupled with the continuing success of the basketball program, it makes Huskies fans delight in the thought that Baja Washington will be a fine place to get a nice pedicure, car wash and a good cigar, lighting it from a match struck upon a SoCal chin.