Husky men on thin ice

Call it a "must-win," a "make-or-break" situation, a "do-or-die" stretch, or any other cliché there is, but the Washington Huskies (4-12, 9-16) know exactly what lies ahead of them and what must be accomplished if they want to extend their season past this weekend. As the Huskies travel to southern California this week, the big question is whether or not they will be back in Los Angeles the next week for the Pac-10 Tournament.

The Huskies can earn one of the last two spots in the conference tournament by four different ways. Each scenario has the Huskies needing at least one win on the road this week, which is something they have not been able to do this season. Lose both games and there is no chance then this season is over and everyone can start cleaning out their lockers.

The Scenarios:
1) The Huskies defeat both USC and UCLA this weekend. (No. 7 seed) 2) Huskies defeat USC and Washington State beats USC. (No. 8) 3) Huskies defeat UCLA and Washington State beats UCLA (No. 8) 4) Huskies defeat UCLA and Stanford beats California (No. 8)

Unless the Huskies sweep USC (5-11, 10-15) and UCLA (4-12, 7-18), they do not control their own destiny and will need some help from Stanford, who plays at home against Cal, or Washington State who are also in Los Angeles as well. Even if the Huskies defeat USC but fall to UCLA, Washington would be left out.

The last time the Huskies found themselves in a hole looking for help, the Cougars threw them a shovel in the form of Marcus Moore, who made his surprise return to scorch the Huskies in Pullman last weekend.

"Last week, we were fighting to finish as high as sixth," said head coach Lorenzo Romar "We wanted to solidify a spot in the tournament; we wanted to get it done. We didn't want it to come down to the last hour. But now, if we lose, our season is done."

"It's a ‘mini-tournament' before the tournament starts."

Looking at USC and UCLA

The Huskies are 1-1 against USC and UCLA, who visited Hec Ed Pavilion back in January. USC and UCLA are two different teams who play different styles.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that they are a better team, but UCLA was probably the more difficult match-up," said Romar. "Not as much us guarding them, but them guarding us because they have so much size."

When the Bruins came to town, UCLA used their size advantage to disrupt the Huskies rhythm in route a 77-67 victory. Even though the Huskies forced UCLA into 29 turnovers, Washington only shot 33-percent from the field that day and was out-rebounded 44-30. T.J. Cummings had 16 points, Jason Kapono had 15 points, and Dijon Thompson had 14 points for UCLA. Andre Patterson also notched a double-double (12 points and 12 rebounds) for the Bruins.

The Huskies did not have Jeffrey Day or Brandon Roy against UCLA the first time around and that has Romar more optimistic that the Huskies can present a better match-up against the Bruins.

"Both of those guys have size," Romar said of Day and Roy. "Brandon is 6-5, but he plays bigger than 6-5. Jeffrey is not the ‘answer' like ‘this is the guy who's going to win our game,' but he has that long body that's going to help us. Those are the kind of guys that are versatile, that UCLA has."

Roy, who Romar labeled a "playmaker," has begun to hit his stride recently as a Husky. The freshmen has posted back-to-back career high games against Oregon and Washington State. In his last two games, Roy is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per contest.

Washington may also benefit from the return of Anthony Washington, who has been practicing a limited number of minutes with the team recently.

All season long, the bigger players have been a nuisance to the Huskies' ability to get a shot off. It happened against UCLA, and it also happened against Washington State. With the bigger Marcus Moore, Randy Green, and Thomas Kelati working on Nate Robinson and Will Conroy, it was a hindrance to the smaller Husky guards.

Romar hopes that what Washington lacks in size, they make up with their quickness.

"I think quickness allows you to get inside of those guys more often," Romar said. "The bigger the player, you should be able to use your quickness. The flip-side of that, you should be able to get more penetration."

USC on the other hand, is the quicker team who plays a very aggressive defense. At 8.8 steals per game, USC leads the Pac-10 in steals. The Trojans are led by Desmon Farmer, who is fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring at 17.8 points per game. Sophomore forward Greg Guenther Jr. has come on strong as of late. He has registered four double-doubles in the last five games. Guenther Jr. is averaging 10.2 points and 10 rebounds in that span.

The Huskies are one up on the Trojans. In their last meeting, Washington staged a dramatic 21-point comeback to defeat USC 76-72 at Hec Ed Pavilion. No doubt USC is eager for a little pay-back.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers:
The Huskies are currently 0-7 in Pac-10 road games this season. They have not had a winless conference record since the 1968 season.

Washington is 2-23 on the road in the last three seasons.

USC has won the last four games at home against Washington and the Huskies have not swept a season series with USC since 1998.

UCLA has won 27 of the last 33 games against the Huskies. The boast an 83-29 all time lead over the Huskies and have won three straight against Washington.

Washington has lost 16 straight games at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

Game Times:
Thursday, March 6th
Los Angeles Sports Arena
7:30 pm
No TV; KJR (950 AM)
Saturday, March 8th
Pauley Pavilion
No TV; KJR (950 AM) Top Stories