TOP OF THE TOWN – You could sense this coming. It’s the way the season has gone for the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team. They take a lead and then throw it away down the stretch to lose. Utah, one of the worse teams in the Pac-12, proved to be better than the Huskies by coming back from 12 points down in the second half to win 67-66, making it seven close losses by coach Mike Hopkins team this season after leading, sometimes by a big margin. The Huskies have lost this way to UCLA 66-64, Stanford 61-55, California 61-58, Oregon 64-61 and now Utah. They also lost to Houston 75-71 and Gonzaga 83-76. Now they go to Colorado on Saturday and that likely will be another defeat. In fact, looking at the schedule it’s difficult to see where this Husky team, 12-8 and 2-5 in the Pac-12, can win. This was not supposed to be happening to this team. With two possible lottery picks in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels and overall height on the team that is one of the tallest in the country, it seemed possible the Huskies would contend for another conference championship and advance to March Madness. But here they are buried at the bottom of the conference standings and all-but-out of any madness, other than loyal Husky fans that are being driven there. Hopkins is a two-time conference coach of the year and, yet, many times he appears to be outcoached. Utah did what other teams have done to the Huskies down the stretch and full-court press them, and it works. Washington leads disappear as fast as coins in Las Vegas casino slot machines. The Huskies have been hurt by the academic ineligibility of point guard Quade Green. That is obvious when teams press them. They have been hurt by McDaniel’s immaturity and they have been further hurt by inconsistent shooting from the premier and from defensive rebounding. Hopkins has not found the solution in a lineup that keeps getting jumbled. That hurts the Huskies because they have not found any consistency, and part of that is being a young squad. Still, I wonder what would happen if Hopkins abandoned his base zone defense and went to a man defense that I think better suits the quickness and length of his team. The times he has gone man the team has responded nicely. He doesn’t have to junk the zone, but use it as a tempo changer. It would also help the deficit in their defensive rebounding. The bottom line, though, is that this Husky team as currently constituted is not very good. There isn’t as much talent as expected as the season started. So just go with the flow and don’t expect too much from the Huskies. Just sit back and watch an extraordinary talent in Stewart. He’s a man among puppies somebody wrote. That’s true.

Be well pal

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.