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Washington Notes: Brunch in Seattle

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I am surprised none of you have called me out on for being wrong in my prediction for UCLA’s final Pac-10 season record. Few weeks ago (I think it might have been after the Oregon loss) I expected that UCLA’s regular season Pac-10 record would be 14-4. Majority of our smart community members disagreed with my vote. And I couldn’t be happier. While we have all have some reasons to celebrate this Friday, we do have to move on, and get in the mindset for conference tournament, and then the Madness. However, before we get to Staples frame of mind, we still get to enjoy one more regular season game tomorrow afternoon. Bruins get to take on Washington (17-12, 7-10 Pac-10), one of the most disappointing teams of this season, in what is essentially shaping up to be a meaningless exhibition game, before conference tourney gets started later next week.

Huskies will most likely give an inspired effort tomorrow morning (11:00 am tip off) to get some measure of revenge for the humiliation they suffered at UCLA. They are probably going to the NIT. They can feel pretty good about themselves if they can beat what is arguably the best team in the country in front of a loud and raucous home crowd. And they have some momentum as they are coming off a decent win, throttling Timmeh’s gap closers. So yeah they will probably be a little fired up. From Sportsline.com:

The Huskies know their only chance at making it to the NCAA Tournament is to win the Pac-10 tournament.

And while winning four games in four days is a long shot, the Huskies believe they are at least playing in a way that makes it a little more realistic to consider after beating USC 85-70 in Seattle Thursday night.

The Huskies took a double-digit lead midway through the first half and never let the Trojans get closer than five the rest of the way in snapping a four-game losing streak and improving to 17-12 overall and 7-10 in Pac-10 play.

The win came on the heels of a tight loss at Oregon Saturday in which the coaching staff thought the Huskies showed a lot of improvement.

The real test of how much better the Huskies might be getting comes Saturday when No. 2 UCLA comes to town fresh off having clinched winning the Pac-10 title outright Thursday night in Pullman.

"The thing we talked at the beginning of the week is how good we can get in the next two weeks," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "To come out and play this way may show that we made a little progress tonight, and hopefully we can make a little more on Saturday (against UCLA) and next week make enough to where we can reach our goals."
But whatever. Bruins have nothing to lose tomorrow. They will have nothing on the line, except for their final Pac-10 regular season record. Even if the Huskies win tomorrow, Bruins will probably still be able to lock up overall number 1 seed, if they defend their Pac-10 tourney title later next week. If anything this game will give the Bruins an excellent opportunity to work out some of their kinks before they start the second season next week. The game will give them an opportunity to:
  • Work on FT shooting in a hostile environment;

  • Work on their inside-outside game on offense and try to get better offensive production from Mata and AA2 than they got in Pullman. Hopefully those two can help out Luc, as they get to take on two excellent big men in Hawes and Brockman;

  • Give younger players like Westbrook, Keefe, and yes even Wright (come on Ryan … what the heck was that last night in Pullman?) much needed minutes so they can all get a little more seasoned in a road game before heading into the tourney season;

  • Give Shipp a chance to work on his team-game. Huskies are a very similar team to Arizona in a sense they are made up of some extremely talented athletes who just loves to run and gun. If Shipp plays within himself, stays patient, work within the flow of game, he will get his opportunity to have a very good game. They key for him will be not to force the issue too much. In other words Josh don’t fall in love with 3 pointers, and at least at the beginning while the Bruins are on transition, I hope he is going for the sure-shot, instead of trying to do a little to show-time on the floor;

  • In terms of defense, Bruins need to keep on doing what they have been doing (specially during second halves of last few games (as noted by LA Seitz). They need to lock up the perimeter, help out and rotate over, and make sure those guys absolutely no easy buckets around the paint. As that Sportsline update noted Huskies were scorching hot from the 3 point line against the Trojies. They were at least early on when they drained 9 out of 13 in the first half (10 of 18 over all). Appelby alone hit 5 of them. BTW speaking of Appleby, the dude has been the subject of some interesting back and forth between our SBN colleagues UDub Dish and Addicted to Quack. Anyways the point is AA, DC, Shipp and co. cannot relax around the perimeter if they want to end the regular season on a good note.
Again the Bruins have nothing to lose tomorrow. They can come out, given an intense effort, and use the experience as a great tune up for the stretch run. I expect nothing less than from a team led by the best coach and the best player in America.

GO BRUINS.