Sunday, March 4, 2012

Huskies win first ever Pac-12 basketball championship!

By Kshell

With the Stanford Cardinal upsetting the California Golden Bears 75-70 that clinched an outright Pac-12 championship for the Washington Huskies! The Huskies who win the conference with a 14-4 record have now won just their second outright conference title since 1953(the other was in 2009). Counting conference tournament titles Lorenzo Romar has now won five conference championships and has won four in a row. Some may say the Huskies backed into this title and that is complete garbage. The Huskies earned this title by going 14-4 while the California Golden Bears went 13-5. Both teams were tied at 10-3 the difference is the Huskies finished 4-1 while the Golden Bears finished 3-2. This team has grown up a lot from going 5-5 and with winning the conference regular season the Huskies have punched their ticket into March Madness.

The Huskies failing to take care of business yesterday meant they had to become huge Stanford fans today. The Cardinal led the entire game over the Golden Bears by as many as 15 points. The Bears pulled within 72-70 and Stanford then had an impressive series. The Cardinal made one of two free throws, got the rebound, made one of two free throws, got the rebound then made one of two free throws extending their lead to five and wasting 25 seconds on the clock. This loss not only gives the Huskies the championship outright but probably cost Jorge Gutierrez the conference player of the year award as well. The California Golden Bears were going for their second outright conference title in the last three years after not winning one since 1959. This was a crushing loss for the Bears having lost to their rival Stanford a team that Mike Montgomery had coached for so long.

For the Huskies Darnell Gant he will have now won his fourth conference championship which has never been done before. Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N'Diaye, C.J. Wilcox, and Terrence Ross have now all won multiple conference championships and their first regular season title. While freshman Tony Wroten, Desmond Simmons and Shawn Kemp Jr. receive a championship in their first season. I think with this Cal loss that puts Terrence Ross as the favorite to take home conference player of the year. For the year Ross is averaging 15.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks. He is shooting 45.4% from the field, 36.2% on three pointers making 1.8 a game and 74.7% on free throws. If Ross wins he will be the second Husky to take home that award in the Romar era. The other being Brandon Roy as Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas, Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter all fell just short. I also think Tony Wroten will run away with the Pac-12 freshman of the year. This year Wroten is averaging 16.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 3.7 APG. He is also averaging 2.0 steals per game while shooting 45.0% from the field. The Wroten-Ross combo is a big reason why the Huskies are the conference champions.

This team was picked to finish fourth preseason having lost first-team all conference guys Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning. They also lost all defensive selections in Justin Holiday and Venoy Overton as well. This team started one freshman in Wroten and another in Simmons part-time. This team matured a lot and some will say they backed into a title or this is the weakest Pac-12 ever which is partly true. Just like the 2010 NFC West championship banner hangs up with the 2005 banner this banner will be hanging up at Hec Ed. The Huskies season has been pretty good so far and it was nice to see them rewarded today. Now the Huskies have some work to do as they'll take on either the Oregon State Beavers or Washington State Cougars next Thursday in the Pac-12 tournament. The Huskies at least now know they'll be dancing in March.

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