The Washington Huskies(24-10,14-4) are advancing to New York City to play in the NIT final four after ending the Oregon Ducks(24-10,13-5) season 90-86. The Huskies were led by Terrence Ross scoring a game high 24 points which had to anger Oregon fans as Ross is from the state of Oregon. For the second straight year the Huskies split the regular season with the Ducks each winning at home and the Huskies winning the third game in postseason play. The Huskies are going back to Madison Square Garden in New York City where they played earlier in the year losing to two top ranked teams by a combined nine points to Marquette and Duke. The Pac-12 champions Huskies who made history by being left out of the NCAA tournament are taking advantage of the NIT and are finally coming together as a team. Ross and Tony Wroten are playing terrific ball while C.J. Wilcox has been key off the bench. Abdul Gaddy is starting to show flashes of why he was such a sought after recruit coming out of high school. For the Huskies to end the Ducks season in itself was a big moment as these schools don't like each other. Now the Huskies can pack their bags as they are heading back to Madison Square Garden hoping to cut down the nets and erase the bad memories of their first trip to New York City.
For the first time in program history the Huskies are advancing to the NIT final four. Sure the Huskies would rather be playing in the NCAA tournament but hopefully this experience of advancing deep in a tournament can help them for next year. The Huskies offseason will be defined as successful if Ross and Wroten come back. If they choose to leave for the NBA at least this NIT gave Wilcox, N'Diaye and Gaddy a chance to improve their game. The Husky fan base has to feel better about their chances next year due to this NIT than they did a few weeks back. The NIT was a good thing for the Huskies who have hopes of winning the whole tournament. The Huskies are the highest seed remaining in the tournament and will be the favorites to cut down the nets in the mecca of basketball which is Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- Was this Tony Wroten's final home for the Huskies? I guess we'll answer that question for another time. If this was what a way to go out for Wroten. Wroten scored 22 points making 10 for 14 on the free throw line with seven rebounds. Since the disaster ending against the Oregon State Beavers where Wroten missed his final four free throws he has made 13-19(68.4%) which isn't good but a lot better than his season average of 58.4%. In the NIT so far Wroten is averaging 11.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG. He is also averaging a steal a game and 1.3 blocks per game as well. Wroten is playing well this NIT and impressing NBA scouts in the process.
For the season Wroten is now averaging 16.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 3.8 APG. He is also averaging 1.9 steals per game while shooting 45.0% from the field. Wroten during this game also passed up his mentor Isaiah Thomas for most points scored in a single season by a Huskies freshman. If he had just made two of his four final free throws against the Beavers he would have had the greatest freshman season in Huskies history. Most intelligent fans like myself will realize Wroten had a great season this year for the Huskies. To remember him for those missed free throws is ridiculous and ignoring all the good plays he made for this program.
In the NIT he is averaging 17.3 PPG and 3.7 RPG. He has made eight three pointers during this tournament as well. For the year Wilcox is averaging 14.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks. He is shooting 43.8% from the field, 41.1% on three pointers making 2.3 a game and 84.6% on free throws. Wilcox last year was a shooter but this year he has turned into a scorer. Depending on what Ross and Wroten do Wilcox might have to be the main guy next season. Wilcox has shown when he is healthy the last two years he is capable of that as he is a terrific shooter.
For the season Gaddy is averaging 8.1 PPG and 5.2 APG. He is shooting 40.4% from the field and 33.3% on three pointers making 0.9 a game. Gaddy has came on strong down the stretch giving me hope he'll have a productive year as a senior. Remember Justin Dentmon? He was a player Husky fans couldn't wait to graduate as he was killing the team as a sophomore and a junior. Then his senior year he was first team all pac-10 as he had a big time senior year. Matthew Bryan-Amaning also came out of nowhere with a first team all pac-10 type of season as well as a senior. Not saying Gaddy will be first-team but he could be honorable mention next year.
In his last six games Gant is averaging 6.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG. This NIT he is averaging 6.3 PPG and 7.0 RPG. For the season Gant is averaging career highs in both 7.0 PPG and 5.3 RPG. He is shooting 45.7% from the field and 32.4% on three pointers making 0.7 a game. Gant has the chance to end his career on a five game winning streak something no other Husky has ever done with two more wins at Madison Square Garden.
The Huskies are going back to New York City where they have a chance to prove to everyone that they were indeed an NCAA tournament team. I think the Huskies have already proved that fact and it has been nice seeing this team play their best basketball of the season. It has been nice seeing guys like Wilcox and Gaddy playing so well heading into next year. Been nice seeing Ross and Wroten having great moments so my final image of them will be positive. It has been especially nice seeing Gant go out the way he is going out. This Huskies team can only play the games on their schedule and right now they are taking advantage of that by advancing to the NIT final four. The Huskies will have a chance to bring home their first ever NIT or NCAA championship in their 110 year basketball history. Winning the NIT although not the ultimate prize is still a huge accomplishment especially for a program like the Huskies.