Coach's Corner

Certainly the shock of the sudden death loss to Louisville left us all a little stunned and dismayed, but the truth is, the Husky hoopsters really gave us quite a treat with their just completed season. What a wonderful rise to the top of college basketball.

Sure, lots of us dreamed of the elite eight, the final four, and even the national title, but in reality, it just wasn't in the cards.

Eeerr, Cardinals.

Not withstanding, however, was the fact that this Husky team brought back a lot of pride and honor to the Husky faithful. And Lord knows we really needed a shot after last season's horrific football collapse. Sell out crowds, national spotlight, The Great Alaska Shootout, winning the Pac-10 Tournament, and winning the first two games in the dance, put the program and its fan base back on top and with it gave us all a real reason to feel good.

Think about it - a number one seed in the March Madness has to be the loftiest position in a long time for either of the major Husky programs.

Not bad considering the man who put it all together, Lorenzo Romar, was the FOURTH pick of Barbara Hedges. Of course, Don James was also a fourth pick by the school if truth be told, so that's pretty good company.

Congratulations to Coach Romar, his outstanding staff of assistants, and his team of gritty, hard nosed players, who gave us all a glimpse of just what the future holds. There is no question they will be back and maybe someday, someway, they will finally put on the slipper of the national champion. Until then, we can all just be thankful for a job well done and a great run to the top of the mountain.

What was really exciting for me was the reunification of Husky fans and followers. I had the privilege of going along for the ride. Attending games, watching every time they were on television, going to LA for the Pac-10 Tournament, watching them reach the sweet sixteen, and finally gathering with family and friends at the Ram in the Village for one final assault into the upper strata of college basketball.

It was along the way that I really enjoyed the journey. When in Los Angeles attending the Pac-10 Championship, and after watching them reach the finals with a win over Stanford, I got to hook up for dinner with a few of the Huskies from our National Championship football team. It was a thrill to see so many Dawgs back into the fold rooting for their school. Lincoln Kennedy, Ed Cunningham, Beno Bryant, Charles Mincy, and Don Jones all joined us to celebrate being a Husky. Mincy who went on to play for years in the NFL is going to be the next head football coach at Inglewood High School and Beno is going to be his assistant. They promised me that whenever they have a great one that he will be a Husky for sure.

These men have come back into the fold and Husky basketball helped bring them back. Kennedy and Bryant in particular have been somewhat estranged from the program after how they perceived the UW administration failed to back them in the scandal of the early 90's. They felt badly that everything they had done as proud Huskies had been clouded by a lack of defense by their own school.

They were all so excited to be back and to be once again proud Huskies. Don't underestimate what this march into March meant for the school.

It was a wonderful evening and we called Coach James and passed the phone around the table so all could say hi to the Dawgfather. We had been brought together by Husky basketball and no one even talked about the debacle of football. It was heart warming and of course, Ed Cunningham, who has a national voice as a CBS analyst, conducted court and the evening brought back a little magic. Luckily he held no hard feelings for the beating Dawgman gave him on the Kayak Point golf course at Lambo's charity event.

Then for the game against Louisville I went to the Ram to join the standing room only crowd and again had an opportunity to hook up with another generation of loyal dawgs. This time it was to watch the game with Jason Chorak, Joe Jarzynka, Sekou Wiggs, Terry Hollimon, and Jeremiah Pharms.

This group had been part of the teams that defied the NCAA and continued to win following the sanctions for which they had done nothing to earn. They were so proud to be Huskies, and Pharms, in particular, was just excited to be there. He is attempting to rebuild his life after his legal problems and it was gratifying to hear them all cheering and rooting on "their" Huskies.

That is the point. "They" belonged to all of us and even though "they" didn't reach the top of the mountain, they still took us on an incredible journey. A journey back to respectability. A journey of hope. A journey that will only continue in the years to come.

All of these men, in both groups, are tremendously excited about the future of not only Husky hoops but also of the Huskies of Tyrone Willingham. They are all filled with optimism for Husky football. They want their Huskies to be back and all believe the new administration and coaches will get them there. They are now fans just like the rest of us. They had invested a lot of their souls into being proud Huskies. They just happen to have had it rekindled by Husky hoops.

Thank you Lorenzo Romar for taking us along on the wonderful ride. It has been a wonderful and unifying roll and there are lots of us out there who realize that maybe the destination wasn't achieved but the journey was well worth the ride.

What a great effort by an undersized team with a lot of character and a lot of heart. Top Stories