Sitting at home and watching the Oregon Ducks win the Pacific-12 Conference men’s basketball tournament wasn’t the best weekend Washington coach Lorenzo Romar could envision.
“From a professional basketball standpoint, it hasn’t been too good,” Romar said. “It’s been hard sitting around waiting for your fate. Not knowing. Knowing we had a great opportunity right before us and let it slip away in some ways, it’s difficult.”
He received a positive bump Sunday night when he found out the Huskies will be going
to the National Invitation Tournament for the second consecutive season.
The sixth-seeded Huskies (18-15 overall, 9-9 Pac-12) will travel to play the third-seeded BYU Cougars (21-11, 12-6 West Coast Conference) in Provo, Utah, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the NIT. The game will be on ESPN.
“We were hopeful to get a bid for the NIT, but we weren’t sure, thought it was 50-50 going in,” Romar said. “I would say it’s more excitement for our guys, especially for our seniors who get to continue to play.”
This Selection Sunday was different than last year’s. Washington had won the Pac-12 regular-season title and had a sliver of hope for the NCAA tournament. When it was left out, becoming the first Pac-12 regular-season champion to be skipped, there was a letdown.
That carried into the Huskies’ first NIT game at home against Texas-Arlington, which they won in zombie-like fashion, 82-72. Romar said it should be easier to get going this season, since BYU’s Marriott Center is renowned as a difficult place to play.
He also knows where the blame lays for missing the NCAA tournament.
“We certainly didn’t have the kind of year where we’re playing every game and we’re very consistent, where we expected to be in the NCAA tournament,” Romar said. “However, down the stretch, we began to play better and up until our last game we thought we were doing a better job and certainly had our chances. It can be bittersweet in that regard. But we were our own worst enemy up to this point this year.”
The last example of that was the Huskies’ 80-77 overtime loss to the Ducks in the Pac-12 tourney second round when UW had control of the game at multiple points. Afterward, a distraught Abdul Gaddy sat at his locker staring at the floor. The point guard from Bellarmine Prep wondered if he would get to play another game since Washington was on the NIT bubble, and the selection process is often subjective. He got his wish.
“The point is to just keep playing — home or away. It does not make any difference,” Gaddy said. “I just want to keep my career going as long as possible.”
After two days off, Washington practiced Sunday night and will leave for Provo today. Should Washington advance, it will play the winner of the Tennessee/Mercer game at some point between March 21-25. Who would host that game was unclear Sunday.
For now, Washington has to worry about slowing BYU’s leading scorer Tyler Haws and dealing with what is typically a boisterous BYU home crowd.
“I’m just excited to be able to keep playing,” senior Scott Suggs said. “I wish things would have turned out differently in the Pac-12 tournament but nonetheless we’re able to keep playing. We have another chance to win something.”firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas