Win or go home!
The Pac-12 tournament opens next week, and the Washington Huskies are currently holding on to the number one spot in the conference. If the standings stay as they are right now, the Huskies fist match-up in tournament play will be against the winner of the Washington State – Oregon State game.
With the fierce rivalry the Huskies have with both those teams, it is not going to be an easy road to the championship game.
As it is, this years tournament is a little different than past years anyways.
With the addition of both Colorado, and Utah to the Pac-12, the tournament winner may have an extra game played than in years past. As the conference leader though, the Huskies will receive a first round bye.
In order for the Huskies to take the title back home to Seattle with them, there are some things coach Romar needs to get his players on board with if they want to cash their ticket for the big dance in 2012.
As in every win or go home tournament, luck needs to be on the winning teams side. Whether it is gaining the extra calls, or perhaps the ball just falling from everywhere on the court, luck, more than talent alone, comes into play come tournament time.
The Huskies will be no exception to this. Those rimmed out layups will need to fall more consistently, as well as the three’s. If the three’s start falling early, the Huskies will be a hard team to stop.
2. Play as a team
For many up and coming players ie. Tony Wroten, the tournament becomes a time to showcase their talent in front of a bigger than usual crowd of pro scouts.
If the Huskies want to win this thing, Wroten will have to give the ball up more than usual. I have seen him take control of a game and almost single handily win it by himself.
3. Stay out of foul trouble
Staying out of foul trouble is a must. The Huskies have had problems with this all season long. The bench really lacks the depth of title contenders, and to rely on them in the final minutes of a game is suicide.
4. Make free throws
The other achilles heel of the Huskies this past year was team free throws. Another must if they want to win it all this year. Missed free throws basically gives the team a free foul every time down the floor especially in the case of Aziz N’Diaye. It’s like hack-a-Shaq all over again.
5. Mental toughness
Mental toughness is almost as important as luck in tournaments like these. The Huskies have to go out there and truly believe they are the team to beat this year. And I think they already do.
The starters are going to have to reach down and pull out that little bit extra, their minutes are going to be up, and with possible back-to-back-to-back games, their fatigue is going to be an issue.
This is the Huskies tournament. It is theirs to win, and theirs to lose. Let’s hope it’s the former, not that latter this year.