BY Bob Sherwin 11:39PM 01/13/2011

Huskies may deny distraction, but it’s there

Police investigation hangs over Huskies as Stanford snaps UW’s 11-game win streak in conference play

Washington forward Justin Holiday missed game-tying free throws with two seconds left against Stanford Thursday in Palo Alto. (Drew McKenzie/Sportspress Northwest file)

Explanations for Washington’s 58-56 loss to Stanford Thursday night generally can be gleaned from the box score.

Check out how poorly the Huskies shot. They had a season-low 36.2 percent (21 of 58)  from the field, including 30.8 percent (8 of 26) from three-point range.

The Huskies led the Pac-10 Conference with 49.1 percent, and 40.8 percent beyond the arc.

They had four steals. Their average is twice that.

They had one blocked shot. They average 5.3.

They had 11 assists. They average 18.3.

They scored a season-low 56 points. They average 88.9, third-highest in the nation.

When UW coach Lorenzo Romar gets in the film room over the next couple of days, he can address these issues as the team prepares for Cal Sunday night.

But there also will be an elephant in the room. None will admit they see it, but it’s there. They don’t talk much about it.  But they can’t ignore the trouble it represents.

The Seattle Police Department has an active investigation into a sexual assault claim against one unidentified Husky. He hasn’t been charged, but the allegation is serious, brought by a 16-year-old girl.

The distraction isn’t apparent in the box score, but it was a factor in this loss.

That player under this cloud made the trip. He practiced all week and played.

As a teammate, he likely has earned their support.

But there also might be some teammates upset with him. How could he jeopardize this highly-ranked team? The team already lost starting point guard Abdul Gaddy to season-ending knee surgery. Ultimately, the team could lose another crucial asset.

Whether he is ultimately charged, he hurt himself and the team. His teammates, favored for the Pac-10 title and an NCAA Tournament berth, can view this act as reckless right now.

This distraction had to factor against the Cardinal. Performance was too uncharacteristic for the investigation not to weigh on these players’ minds.

* This offense is often unstoppable. Yet after leading 47-38 with about 10 minutes left, they were outscored 20-9, missing 13 of the final 17 shots.

* Missed were relatively easy shots. Many were rushed and possessions were finished poorly.

* Terrence Ross was 1-for-7, C.J. Wilcox was 1-for-4, Darnell Gant was 0-2 in 18 minutes. Venoy Overton was 1-for-5 with one assist in 20 minutes.

* Justin Holiday, a 75 percent free-throw shooter, missed the first of two foul shots with two seconds left that could have brought the Huskies within one point.

How unusual is it that all those guys struggled all at once? Quite. Something’s going on. They can deny any distraction, but it’s there. He’s there.  The opening tip doesn’t drive it from their minds.

After the game, Romar was asked about the distraction.

“We were up 11 with 10 to go, you have to be doing something right,” he said. “So I thought we were fine. We just didn’t finish the game.”

A similar episode happened in football at the Holiday Bowl. After thrashing the Huskies earlier in the season 56-21, the Cornhuskers came into the rematch distracted by team bickering, player suspensions and a disappointing finish to the regular season.

With the Cornhuskers looking like they didn’t want to be there, Washington pulled off the upset, 19-7.

Emotion plays such a role in the college game. Just look at the perennial lower-seed upsets in the hoops tourney.

When Stanford was making its run, Romar called timeout twice within a two minute, 12 second span. That’s not his style. He probably understood that his guys weren’t all there.

“You try to look at your players’ eyes,” Romar said. “If they are looking over at the bench a little too much, like, ‘What do we do now?’ you call a timeout…I just felt they had that look in their eyes.”

He added, “We had a lot of good looks and, uncharacteristic for this team, we were unable to make a lot of shots we normally make.”

The reason isn’t seen, but it’s there.


YourThoughts

  • jerry

    If the player in question turns out to be a current starter – kiss this season goodbye. :(

  • Jeff

    This is going to destroy this team if charges are filed and all for some 16 year old who snuck out knowing what she was sneaking out for.

  • http://n/a Tom

    Jeff’s comment?

    Taken from the book of bathroom etiquette, co-authored by Big Ben Roethlisberger, perhaps?

    Another example of a young man who made the mistake of thinking with the wrong head.

    The team will survive, and so will the passionate fans, who might benefit by waiting for the facts.

    Go Dogs

  • Kevin Howes

    The team played with a great deal of passion tonight. Still the same members on the roster. Perhaps, despite all the complaining about the extra day between games, the teams time in the Bay Area away from the media watch will prove to have been beneficial. A chance for the players to talk about the events and come to an understanding of what happened and what to expect going forward.

    Not to diminish in any way the severity of the alleged crime. I believe that the team, with the help of a great coach in Romar, will make it through this just fine.