Hey, it’s helter-skelter, it’s nerve-whacking,it’s crazy, but it’s also fun to watch those crazy Huskies

Terry Mosher 3


It’s been a long while since I’ve been as excited about a basketball team as I am about the young Washington Huskies. It’s remarkable the amazing amount of young talent coach Lorenzo Romar has assembled. I don’t think I have seen anything like it, if you exclude Kentucky where all the top McDonald All-Americans seem to go as if a magnet is pulling them there to play for the sometimes – well, often ‑ obnoxious John Calipari.

Kentucky, though, is struggling this year to find itself while these young Huskies are crashing a Pac-12 party that told them from the start that they didn’t belong among the elite and to just stay in the corner and behave themselves while the real elite teams – Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oregon and USC – lead the party celebration.

But these Huskies – half of the 15-man Washington roster is a multi-talented collection of freshman, led by the “Elastic Man”, Dejounte Murray a 6-foot-four and half inch silky smooth and quick guard from Seattle’s Rainier Beach – don’t know they shouldn’t be this good (7-3 in conference and in second place and 15-7 overall).

Pre-season predictions had these Huskies winning all of four games and being relegated to a next-to-last finish just ahead of their state rival Washington State.

Washington State is living up to pre-season predictions and is in last place with a 1-9 conference record, but the Huskies are scaring the bejeesus out of everybody with a helter-skelter style of play that is frightening to watch because they go so fast that it looks like they are outrunning not only their thinking process but everybody else’s.

They did their usual last night (Wednesday, Feb. 3) when they fell behind by 14 points in the first half to Arizona State and then teased their audience of loyal fans by climbing back into the game and then struggling to get over the hump and put the visiting Sun Devils away.

It took overtime before the Huskies finally did the improbable, winning going away when the conference’s top scorer, Andrew Andrews, finally hit his first bucket, a breaking-the-camel’s-back three from the side, and hit a two and then added the finishing touches at the foul line, where the Huskies and every opponent they play, seem to live, in a 95-83 victory that left me drenched in sweat. Well, not really, but me and my 20-year-old son were emotionally spent after watching these Huskies race up and down the court unmindful of making mistakes.

Murray scored a career-high 34 points before fouling out in overtime – the Huskies lead the nation in players who foul out with 38 (Northern Colorado is second with 23) – and turning matters over to Andrews, the team’s only senior, who only had six free throws and no field goals when Murray left, but had 13 points when the victory celebration began.

These Huskies are fearless. Maybe it’s their youth, but they don’t appear to not only know they shouldn’t be this good but they also don’t know that you can’t play this fast, make as many mistakes as they do, and still win.

They are rim rattlers – Marquese Chriss and Malik Dime, who is a freshman from Senegal, are ridiculous in their leaping ability – speed demons and jack rabbits that wouldn’t – couldn’t – slow down for stop signs if they actually even tried.

And, most of all, they keep coming at their opponents no matter the score and no matter how much tension they create for their fans. They aren’t aware, it appears, the back-to-the-wall situations they often put themselves. They just keep playing and keep coming.

If there is a glaring weakness to these Huskies it is they don’t have that bruising brute in the middle that is nasty and won’t let people come into the paint without imposing some form of physical pain.

And if you have noticed, other teams who do have a brute or two in the middle have also noticed. That is how visiting Utah managed to beat the Huskies. The Utes shoved the ball inside to seven-foot, 235-pound center Jakob Poeltl and the big man had a double-double (29 points, 10 rebounds) in his team’s 80-75 overtime victory against the Dawgs.

It is how Arizona used a big second half (55-26) to squash the Dawgs, 99-67. Arizona’s big man – seven-foot, 255-pound senior Kaleb Tarczewski scored 16 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds and Ryan Anderson, a 6-9, 235-pound forward had a game-high 21 points and nine boards in the Wildcat’s easy win.

I’m not going to predict the Huskies will win a national title, or even a Pac-12 title. They are entertaining, however, and that works for me. They will make it tough on most nights for teams to stay with them because of their high energy and their foot-to-the-gas-pedal approach, but I’ve seen some of the top ranked teams in the nation play and their fast-paced play may be disruptive at times, but it likely would be no match for teams like Oklahoma, Iowa, Maryland, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and Xavier, to name just a few, who are physical and can shoot the ball as well.

Looking at the rest of Washington’s schedule, I see them losing to Arizona (Saturday, Feb. 6, 1:30 p.m. at home), losing on the road to Utah and Colorado, beating California and Stanford at home, splitting with the Oregon schools, beating Oregon State and losing to Oregon, and closing out the regular season with a win at home against Washington State.

That means a 50-50 split in their remaining eight games to give them a 11-7 conference record and a 19-11 overall record. Depending on how they do in the Pac-12 tournament that starts March 9 in Las Vegas, they could be a 11 or 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

I saw something somewhere that had them playing Providence in the first round of March Madness. It’s too early to make that kind of prediction, but if these Dawgs continue to play their madcap way – it’s almost like watching the Keystone Kops or the Three Stooges or the Marx Brothers (if you are old enough to remember them) – you have to root for them to keep on keepin’ on because they are fun to watch.

From what I also have read, it’s very possible that Murray and Chriss will be one-and-done players. They both may be late first round picks in the next NBA draft, although I hope they stick around for some more madcap action.

If those two leave, their space will be ably replaced by five-star recruit Markelle Fultz, a six-foot-four shooting guard who wants to play the point, along with 6-10 New Zealander Sam Timmins. Those two have already given their commitment to Washington and that gives the Huskies an early start on what could be another good year next season.

I don’t know if the 2016-17 season will be madcap, but if it is, count me in.

Hey, I didn’t talk politics today. So that is good. Close your eyes, hold your nose, count to 10, take a deep breath, and pretend the idiots running for president all run out of money before voting takes place and they have to become team managers in basketball.

That would really be a madcap.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.