Dawg Blog - NCAA's Sweet 16

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Here's the Dawg Blog for Friday, March 24th, as Washington and Connecticut square off in the round of 16 in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Verizon Center. It's a reprise of the 1998 showdown between the two groups of Huskies, and UCONN's Richard Hamilton buried a buzzer-beater to defeat the left-coast Dawgs 75-74 in Greensboro, N.C.

Halftime of the George Mason-Wichita State game: Got here early to watch the Huskies possible Elite 8 opponents, and the local Patriots are lighting it up from three. Led by the 12 points of guard Tony Skinn and 11 points from Folarin Campbell, GMU is shooting .636 from three point range (7-11) and .500 overall (12-24). A very fast half, with only eight total fouls called between both teams. GMU up 35-19, but I almost think they match up better against UW. Quick guards and decent post play, but nothing the hoop dawgs haven't already seen in Pac-10 play. Their shooting from three has been impressive, but let's see if they can keep it up. Best thing I saw all half: The entire GMU rooting section, all three sections deep, signing 'Living on a Prayer' by Bon Jovi, singing it like their tournament hopes depended on a strong rendition in unison. Kind of corny, being from the other coast. Hundreds of fans singing Bon Jovi together at a basketball game? In D.C.? OK.

End of the George Mason-Wichita State game: The Shockers were never able to get over the hump, and whenever the Patriots needed a key bucket, they got one as they took the game 63-55. As for the battle of the bands, WSU played The theme from the A-Team and California Love, and the GMU band belted out Zeppelin (Kashmir). Hard choice as to who was the best, but I have to give it to WSU, they didn't play 'Livin' on a Prayer'. Just switched the TV over to the BC-Villanova game. OT. I need the Eagles to win, I have them losing in the finals. They're up one with around 10 seconds left. Craig Smith valiantly tries to block a great in-bounds play by 'Nova, and goes up one with three seconds left. A last-second shot goes wanting by BC, and my bracket is officially busted.

10 minutes to tip: Both teams are heading back into their dressing rooms. UCONN band is playing Stevie Wonder. Hard to root against that. A lot of GMU fans have already gone, and the Verizon Center is looking pretty barren outside of the UW and UCONN fans. Lots of Shocker fans behind me, have no idea if they are just mingling or if they are going to stay and root for somebody. Now it's the UW band that's playing 'Livin' on a Prayer'. What is it with that song?

7 minutes to tip: UCONN comes out. Not as many fans from that state as I thought there would be. Each teams' fanbase takes up roughly two full sections of the Verizon Center, going all the way to the top of the arena. Lots of nosebleeders tonight. And it's a little ironic that, the first game UW gets to play in front of an east coast audience, they have to play at 10 p.m. Crazy. Now we're getting a taste of how the right-coasters feel. Just when I thought the UCONN band was above the tackiness meter, they put out A-ha. Sorry, that's a huge no-no.

Tip: The UW fans are standing and chanting to the UW fight song, all the way up to the rafters. Because this place is just so cavernous, you hear the band at the other end of the floor, but not all that well. The UCONN fans just aren't making a huge dent in the noise factor. Definitely a true 'neutral court' experience. I'm all the way down behind the UW bench, even past the bench-warmers. The PA announcer vaguely sounds like Jimmy Lennon, Jr., of boxing fame. Of all the Huskies, the one that appears the loosest, ironically enough, is Justin Dentmon. He came out with his hands up both times the Huskies were announced, something no other UW player did. Calhoun and Romar shake hands at mid-court, something that's become somewhat of a tradition with the Sweet 16 games and beyond. It's doubtful Jensen gets the tip in this game, but it didn't hurt them against Illinois. UW has to handle themselves with a lot of poise and control early, especially if the shots don't go down. UCONN immediately gets the tip and runs it to Josh Boone for an easy two.

18:53/1: Brockman was admiring his first jumper, but ends up fouling Hilton Armstrong, as the Huskies led on the break. He doesn't make the FT, and Brandon Roy makes his presence known early with a bucket. UCONN 7-4.

18:17/1: Roy behind a screen for three. It's very hard to see anything that's going on, because the Uw bench jumps up on almost every play that goes on. Romar and Dollar have not sat down since the opening tip.

17:22/1: Things are fast and furious, like UW supposedly wants it, but UCONN is leaking out on the break and getting easy looks. The only thing that's helping UW's cause right now is that the other Huskies aren't making their free throws. UCONN 8-7.

17:01/1: Mike Jensen hits hit first three, a big, big basket. The other Huskies are really trying to push it and use their size and strength, but are sloppy with the basketball. UW 10-8. In comes Appleby and Jamaal Williams, per their rotation.

16:12/1: Rashad Anderson makes his first three-ball, and Denham Brown follows up with another. It's at a breakneck pace, as UW scores two baskets of their own.

15:05/1: Washington is giving up a lot of transition points, something they'll need to tighten up. Doesn't look like UCONN wants to shy away from running, that's for sure. But Calhoun knows his guys are winded and calls a TO. Game tied at 14.

14:41/1: Marcus Williams takes advantage of a breakdown in coverage between Joel Smith and Bobby Jones for three. The UW coaches were not happy with Smith on that play. In the UW section, there's a little corner of Dawg Packers that traveled from Seattle. They have been standing from the beginning. Dollar is still trying to get the guys switched to the proper UCONN player, whatever confusion their was looks like it's still happening. UCONN 17-14

13:32/1: Appleby makes his first three, UW is shooting great from outside. But the bounces are not going their way on the defensive end. They are playing solid D, but the length of UCONN's bigs is already showing itself. UCONN 19-16.

12:43/1: Bobby Jones is still hustling, going after a loose ball and getting the ball back for the Dawgs. The other Huskies are doing a phenomenal job of getting out on the break and making things very difficult for UW. If this isn't a fast UCONN team, I don't want to see one that is fast. Jones is rewarded for his hard work with a layin and then Marcus Williams comes up with a foul. Game tied at 20.

11:31/1: I don't think UW has faced another team that plays above the rim like UCONN. They are running and gunning, but UW isn't backing down. Brockman is involving himself on the offensive end. Game tied at 22.

10:06/1: UCONN in the bonus already. A very bad sign, but they haven't really been capitalizing on their shots from the stripe up to this point. Boone misses on the front end, but UW can't take advantage on the offensive end. UCONN 24-22.

9:31/1: Dollar is beside himself on the bench, as he throws his clipboard to the ground. He is imploring the Dawgs to get up the court, but UCONN is making it very tough. Again, the other Huskies can't convert the front end.

8:38/1: Roy takes a charge after a very scrappy play by Jones and Williams on the other end for a deuce. Roy again is nails inside, going lefty for two. UW with the lead 26-24.

7:52/1: The UW coaches are coaching their butts off, yelling at guys and pointing all over the place. They are as into this game as I've seen them all year long. Dollar is just a demon along the baseline, possessed. It's getting harder and harder to see calls, because the UW bench is so into the game and always standing. I almost want to yell, 'Down in front!', but what good would that do?

7:15/1: Right now the two teams are trading blows and baskets. A very hard-fought contest underneath. Whenever UCONN can get into a situation where Jensen is fronting with no backside help, it's over. And Calhoun just got lit up for arguing a possession call. Roy buries the T shots. I don't think Calhoun is all that concerned, he doesn't seem to be. Williams with a nice play down low, couldn't see it. The other Huskies race down the court, something happens, ball to UW. I have to turn the monitor on just so I can watch the game. Dentmon makes a shot and now it's UW by 8. UW 34-26.

5:48/1: Anderson back in for UCONN after they shot an airball. An offensive foul by the other Huskies - Boone - and it's UW's ball again. Brown makes a three, but Joel Smith takes it strong and one! You usually only see that one come out about once every 3-4 games, but Joel had a nice effort against the Illini. He misses the and-one. UW 36-29.

4:53/1: Boone makes a foul shot, the first front end UCONN's made all game long. He misses the back end. Smith is on fire during this short stretch. He looks quick, he's getting open deep and he's making UCONN foul him. Williams is back as to make sure UCONN doesn't leak out. Smith makes both. UW 38-30.

4:12/1: Marcus Williams gets called for a palm. The Husky bench is yukking it up now, but the five guys in purple need to keep their cool. Roy gets a steal and dunk, and Calhoun has seen enough. UCONN TO. UW 40-30.

3:21/1: Refs bail out UCONN as it looked like UW had a clean steal. Calhoun is bringing guys into the game that have been buried for weeks. Granted, I'm not the world's foremost expert on UCONN, but who is Rob Garrison? Calhoun will be Calhoun... I can't hear much from the UW huddle while the UCONN band is playing, but one phrase from Romar cuts through loud and clear - 'DON'T FOUL!' UW 40-30.

3:03/1: The coaches have to cool Jensen down after he's called for a foul on Marcus Williams. UW 40-34.

1:49/1: A nice run for UCONN. Marcus Williams cans a three and Armstrong makes a free throw, but a Jones three answers that run. Roy just took a charge, he is doing it all. UW calls a timeout. UW 45-38.

:44/1: UW was oh-so-close to forcing a 10-second backcourt call, but the refs call a foul on Jones. The left-coast Huskies are just a hair away from breaking this sucker wide open, but give UCONN credit. They aren't a No. 1 seed for nothing. UW 45-39.

Halftime: Roy had a chance to take the last shot, but hesitated. Hesitate in this game, and you're dead. He passes to Appleby but it's way too late and Ryan never gets a shot off. Not the play you'd expect from an All-American with the clock winding down. UW 45-40 at half. UCONN is keeping UW in this game by just taking a nap at the line. At one point they were 5-11, and finished the half 12-21. Embarrassing. UW was 6-7 from the stripe, shooting 47 percent from the field and .300 from three-point range. UCONN is .500 from the field and 67 percent from three, but the misses at the stripe and 14 turnovers have been their demise. From talking to a photographer down in the trenches, it looks like Calhoun is just a call away from getting tossed from this game. He followed the lead official down once halftime came. Not sure what he's interested in, other than having his team hold onto the ball and making their free throws. They do that and they are in excellent shape. But they aren't focusing. Roy leads the Dawgs with 11, followed by Williams' 10. Jones has 7, Brockman, Dentmon and Smith with four, Jensen with three and Appleby with two. Marcus Williams leads UCONN with 11, followed by Josh Boone's 10 (six points coming from the line), Denham Brown's 8 and Hilton Armstrong's 7. The numbers are probably exactly where Romar would like them to be. 45 halftime points equals 90 total points? If UW ends up with 90 points, they'll win.

Right before the second half: Dawgs come out with about three minutes left. Roy takes a couple of shots and then goes to the sideline to get stretched out. Don't know if I've seen that so far this year, but he stretches out, grabs a seat next to Dollar, and they chat for about 30 seconds. Then he chats with the other coaches briefly and gets back in line. He has 20 minutes to show that he's capable of doing something Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick couldn't do; get their teams to the Elite 8. It should be a wild ride. Huskies get the ball to start the half.

18:55/2: A good start so far; a Roy drive for two and a foul on Josh Boone on their end. Roy scores again to extend their lead. They steal and Brockman tries to clean up a Jensen miss and is fouled. Almost one section of the UW fans is up and on their feet. They've been up for some time. All the UCONN fans are up, they look dazed, to be honest. Brockman makes both. Romar is going up and down the bench, clapping his hands, making sure his guys are fully into the game. UW 50-40.

17:49/2: Both clubs get called for turnovers. The Dawgs are doing a lot of switching on their end, and Jones comes up with a steal. UW is missing a few shots from deep, and UCONN calls a quick TO after nearing falling out of bounds. UW 51-43.

16:18/2: Roy was guarding Williams for a time, but now it's just a free-for-all with all the switching. It's hurting them down deep if they don't have much backside help, but UCONN isn't exploiting it as much as I would have thought. Dollar is again hammering away his point; stay smart, stay within the system and the oppotunities will be there. UW is in a little slump offensively, and they need to stay tough on the defensive end to weather any sort of comeback the other Huskies throw at them.

15:26/2: The under-16 timeout. Both teams are running and trying to run offense, but UCONN is turning the ball over and UW can't put a shot down. They aren't getting any second-chances either, as the other Huskies have just locked up the paint. UW 51-43.

15:05/2: UW does a great job of making that extra pass to force a layin and-one, foul courtesy of Marcus Williams. But Justin Dentmon doesn't convert from the line. Roy has a bunny he never misses - and he misses. But UW is getting stops and they are doing what Dollar exhorted them to do in the first half - push it. Dentmon draws another foul but UW immediately gives it away. UW 53-43.

14:01: A pretty move by Rudy Gay and a UW turnover has the UCONN fans thinking run. Another foul by UW and in the confusion Romar and Dollar take time to get their guys together and really get them energized. Now Romar and Calhoun are having a meeting of the minds, but he does not come back happy at all. Roy picked up a foul and also a T. I really couldn't tell you what happened there. UCONN calls timeout and instead of huddling by the sideline, Romar brings all the players out on the floor. UW 53-45.

13:33/2: Dentmon picks up a ticky-tack foul and Romar is imploring his guys to remain cool. Looked like a five-second call, but I guess the striped ones are more interested in calling contact. Williams makes two. UW 53-47.

12:55/2: An Anderson three and the UCONN fans are smelling blood. Romar wisely calls timeout. UW 53-50.

12:05/2: Anderson buries another one and Brockman picks up a foul. Romar is still telling his guys to keep their composure. Game tied at 55 after two FT's by Gay. Roy is not in the lineup, and Williams is trying to assert himself.

11:28/2: Dentmon called for a travel after a UCONN dunk. The under-12 TO and having Roy out of the game has completely altered things. Now UW is searching for their next go-to guy. Williams is doing his best against that UCONN tall timber, but there's only so much he can do. They will need an outside spark to keep things together until Roy can return. The PA guy just announced that game time for the Sunday Elite 8 game is at 2:40 p.m. EST. Game tied at 57.

10:31/2: A thunderbolt comes out of the arena in the form of a Ryan Appleby three, but Gay is right there to answer with a layin. The bench is clapping and doing their best to keep their guys going, but at some point it just becomes ridiculous. Jones decides it's time to do it on his own for two and then Jamaal Williams gives UCONN a taste of their own medicine, swatting Marcus Williams. UW 62-61.

9:02/2: The frustration just might be starting to show, as Jones reaches for a cheap foul, his fourth. Joel Smith comes in to replace him, and bench comes up to pick Jones up. Marcus Williams makes two. UCONN 63-62.

8:05/2: Romar is still working his bench hard, trying to keep them up and energized. Jamaal Williams hits two FT's, Ed Nelson misses, but gets his own shot but UCONN can't convert.

7:45/2: The under-8 TO and the refs are starting to call basically any contact. UCONN stares in disbelief, as Denham Brown is charged. Appleby will be going to the line. At some point Romar is going to have to figure out when to re-insert Roy back into the lineup. The huddle has moved all the way to the far left-hand side of the UW bench. Romar and Dollar alternate between giving their team encouragement and also telling them what they want them to do. They have really earned their pay tonight. Appleby makes both. UW 66-64.

6:42/2: A little mini-run. Four points for the Dawgs, while UCONN continues to struggle at the line. Roy is about to check in, Romar went about as long as he could have before getting him back in the game. Anderson makes two. UW 68-66.

5:07/2: Both Huskies trading baskets. At this point, UW has had to slow the game way down, contrary to what they really want to do. With five players with four fouls each, it's easy to see why. Roy makes one of two FT's. UW 71-68.

4:43/2: Dentmon goes for a steal, gets called for a foul, his fourth. That's six UW players with four fouls each. Dollar is pleading with his guys to just stay their ground and not hedge out for a steal. UW 71-70.

3:56/2: More basket-trading. Williams gets two for UW, Gay makes a pretty turnaround J. Roy gets fouled as he's heading to the hoop as both teams huddle up for the under-4 TV TO Roy misses the front end.

3:08/2: Roy gets another drive in the lane for two and UW forces UCONN into a turnover on their end. Romar wants time. They don't even worry about going to the bench, it's a 30-second one, so they just huddle up on court. This game feels like one where if the leading team can put a bucket or two together, it just might be enough. UW 75-72.

1:50/2: That might be the biggest bucket the left-coasters have had all year. Jamaal Williams makes probably his first three-pointer of the year. They force UCONN into an airball on the other end, but can't control. UW 78-72.

1:16/2: Jones fouls out after fouling Boone deep. They need Jones, but with the way Boone's been shooting threes, it's a smart foul. No easy ones the rest of the way in, even if UW's starters start dropping like flies. Boone makes one. UW 78-73.

21.2/2: Anderson lights up another three, but UCONN is down two and they have to foul. They foul Dentmon. He buried two just like this against ILL, can he do it again? He makes the first and he makes the second. Time out. UW 80-76.

11 seconds/2: Jensen fouls out doing the one thing you can't do - and-one. And it's against Marcus Williams. He comes out and gets hugs, but I am positive that's not the way he wanted to go out of this game. If they win, all is forgiven. Williams makes it. UW 80-79.

7.9 seconds/2: UW is able to get the ball into Appleby, who gets it back to Roy who is fouled. He makes the first, ala Bobby Jones against Ill - a 'cryer'. He makes the second. Anderson makes another three and the place goes crazy. Roy is able to get it to Joel Smith, who feeds Appleby for a last-gasp shot - a great look - but he can't put it down. We're going into extra frames. Tied at 82.

Overtime: Give credit to Anderson, he's got the heart of a thief. UCONN wins the tip and goes back to Anderson, but he can't connect. Dentmon gets contact going up for a shot, but the refs don't make the call. UCONN scores on the other end. UCONN 84-82

3:03/OT: Brockman is back in the game and is giving UW some scoring punch. Two quick baskets. Dentmon gets called for his fifth when Williams trips up on his own feet. Dollar is pissed, but Romar does his best to try and calm the troops. Burmeister is now in the game, a fresh face. He's got fresh legs too. Game tied at 86.

2:22/OT: The Huskies are now having to do it with smoke and mirrors. Brockman's experience gained this year is paying dividends. He looks composed. Roy is now having to lead the ball upcourt. Brockman misses his second FT, could be a key.

1:33/OT: Obvious goaltend, no call. Obvious UCONN player on the baseline, no call. I haven't said anything up to this point, but this is just getting stupid. 29 fouls called against UW at the end of regulation? Somebody get the NCAA record books handy. UCONN 88-87.

47.7 seconds/OT: Guess the refs needed to double-check their dinner reservations. Stoppage. Weird to hear, 'Let's go Huskies!' all over the place. Both teams just look totally and utterly spent.

24.4 seconds/OT: Armstrong goes to the line after another phantom call. The left-coasters can't boo loud enough. Hell, there's a ton of Wichita State fans that have stayed around and they can't make heads or tails out of it either. One way or another, UCONN was going to win this game, guess there's just nothing more to be said. Dollar was beside himself when Dentmon fouled out, now he's just smiling, like there's no amount of coaching that can overcome those dreaded intangibles.

11.3 seconds/OT: Roy has to foul after the Huskies got the ball back down two. A very unfitting end to Brandon's day. Joel Smith tried the cross-court pass instead of getting it under control, and that was a fatal mistake. Marcus Williams makes both to give UCONN a four-point lead.

Game Over: UCONN wins in overtime 98-92. I was wrong. I thought if UW scored more than 80, they would win. I was wrong. They had their chance to make it happen in the regular session, and as soon as Anderson made that shot, there was no way a very depleted Huskies squad was going to match up against a UCONN team that wasn't in foul trouble. The UW fans do the 'Overrated' chant. Not really seeing the point of that right now. Williams scored 27 for Washington in a heroic effort against UCONN's big men. Roy added 20, Brockman 11, Appleby 10, Jones 9, Dentmon 8, Smith 4 and Jensen 3 for UW. UCONN was led by the 26 of Marcus Williams, 19 of Rashad Anderson, Josh Boone with 13, Hilton Armstrong with 13, Rudy Gay with 12, Denham Brown with 12, Craig Austrie with 2 and Ed Nelson with one point. UCONN won the rebounding battle 42-38, the assist battle 15-9, the turnover battle 26-17, the block battle 5-3, but UW killed them in steals 19-7. Washington also won the battle of personal fouls, with 33 to UCONN's 21, just three short of UW's all-time record for fouls - 36, set in their 95-88 OT win at Oregon in 2004.

Post-Game: I know a lot of UW fans, players and coaches have a pit in their stomachs the size of the Grand Canyon, but the left-coasters went toe-to-toe with the best team left in the tournament and didn't back down one inch. Everybody associated with the UW basketball program and their fans should be more than impressed with just how far Romar and company have brought roundball from out of the dark ages in Montlake and out into the fore. UW represented the Pac-10, the west coast and themselves to the hilt and have zero to be ashamed of. It's pretty unfortunate that this game will be talked about for weeks on end after it for the controversial way it played out, and not for the stupendous effort and heart both teams showed on the court. A true March Madness classic, one not to be forgotten by UW fans. The Huskies are officially on the national scene and should be around for quite a while.


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