The Husky Men's Basketball team played their lone exhibition game Thursday night, and because of (a lack of) seating availability on press row I had the opportunity to sit in the Dawg Pack.
As fun as that was, a Thursday night game that doesn’t count made for a pretty interesting Dawg Pack debut. To say it was far from full would be an understatement. But those who were there were there for one reason: to watch Markelle Fultz’s first game in purple and gold.
When he first checked into the game, you could tell that people put away their phones and were ready to watch. And while he may have started a little slow, it didn’t take long for him to show just exactly how talented he is.
I was standing next to my friend John, and every time Fultz would make a play we would exchange looks as if to say, ‘he’s so smooth’ or ‘how is this kid younger than we are so good?’
The fans there got their first chance to see how special Fultz is. They should tell their friends, because he alone is good enough reason to watch these games.
But where Markelle’s debut was a huge bright spot, there was plenty that left fans frustrated. As good a D-II team as Western Washington is, nobody was thrilled about winning by only six or giving up 103 points. Don’t Husky fans have enough to be upset about right now anyways? The Huskies first basketball game was supposed to be a drubbing to take minds off of the frustration that comes with being neglected in the College Football Playoff poll.
It appears that even some of the football players needed to take their minds off it as well, as Kevin King, Byron Murphy, Kentrell Love, Kaleb McGary, Jesse Sosebee, and Devin Burleson, among others were spotted at Hec Ed watching their fellow student-athletes to pass time during their final night in Seattle before heading down to Berkeley.
Speaking of the football team, from a fan perspective the initial polls were frustrating. But it serves as an important reminder that the best way the Dawgs can punch their playoff ticket is to not slip the rest of the way. And as much as they say they don’t listen to the outside noise, it seems this week they heard what the College Football Playoff committee had to say about Washington and felt disrespected.
“Prove it!!!” tweeted Sindey Jones the day after one-loss Texas A&M was slotted ahead of the Huskies. “Was doubted all my life… still am! That’s my motivation.” Jones would later tell the Twitterverse.
So as much as the coaching staff has worked on blocking out the noise, maybe this is a week they intentionally let some slip through the cracks. Washington has done everything possible up to this point to earn the committee's respect, yet still fell short. And if the team plays even more motivated, passionate football that could never be a bad thing.
Through the confusion and frustration, two things are certain: for football, the Huskies are in control of their own destiny. For basketball, we get to watch a team with a lot of youth and potential highlighted by a future lottery pick point guard.
It’s not a bad time to be a Husky.