Coach's Corner

It's been over fifty years since Washington Huskies have won three straight in basketball against the UCLA Bruins. Wow! It's been almost 20 years since they have swept the Bruins in the same year.

It was nothing short of a monstrous win last Saturday as the Huskies set up for a road trip that could seal an NCAA Tournament bid if they can successfully handle their two northwest rivals.

They can take a giant step towards securing an invitation to the big show this week in Oregon.

Can somebody please tell me how this team lost to the Cougars, and did so twice? I watched WSU play UCLA and then watched the Huskies play them two days later. Something doesn't add up here. I watched Washington play USC and it was obvious the Trojans are a football school. They manhandled the men from Troy before sleepwalking to a final victory. Saturday they took on the Bruins and it was wonderful being there. They played arguably their best defensive game of the season in beating the league leader and a nationally ranked team.

It was a huge win! They needed it and went out and got it. They won their most important game and they were able to win it ugly!

They battled. They clawed. They refused to back down when the Bruins came in swinging and pushing their weight around. From the outset, the Bruins were holding Brandon Roy, shoving him on his drives, banging the boards and trying to test the Dawgs and the referees.

The Huskies won the old fashion way. It wasn't pretty, but they went toe to toe with their guests and won it on defense. They chested up the Bruins, denied the cutters, boxed out on rebounds, played help-defense to stop most penetrations. It was won with effort. It was won by diving after loose balls. It was won with hard work, hustle, and grit. I loved it!

Now the Dawgs head back to the road, and let's face it - beating both the Ducks and the Beavers will be an extremely difficult proposition. This road trip now takes on an incredible importance and it is no time to slip back into their "Cougar game mentality" that cost them two hard to swallow losses that could easily have been wins had the Dawgs chosen to play the way they did against the Bruins.

Their defensive help rotation and anticipation was great against the Bruins. They denied the passing lanes and sprinted back on defense every time. They've shown that they could score the whole season, and just finished showing that they could play defense for a whole weekend. They used their quickness at the "stop" end and came away with their biggest win of the year. They will need that exact same kind of defensive intensity this coming weekend if they want to go dancing in March.

Who knew that the two Husky seniors, Roy and Bobby Jones would dig in and totally shut down the Bruins two top scorers? They showed guts, as Roy and Jones were superb on the defensive end. It certainly didn't hurt Roy that there were a number of NBA scouts at the game.

With only a couple of weeks to go before selection Sunday, each win takes on significance both in the Pac-10 standings and in the eyes of the committee. There are no more ranked opponents left on the Husky schedule to bolster RPI rankings. They only have the skin on their knees and the burn in their thighs. They have found what it will take and now it's just a matter of seeing if they can duplicate the exact same defensive intensity and make it happen.

Wouldn't it be great if Justin Dentmon can continue play the way he did last weekend? He is their one true point guard and his quickness and ball handling are both needed on the court. He was outstanding against UCLA, and if he can continue to play that way, then the Huskies have a great shot this coming weekend. Another sweep is not out of the question. In fact, it should be the goal.

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