Finally, a moment to savor in local sports

The Huskies basketball team ends on a high note, winning the championship by beating the Cougs, 67-60. Onward to the NCAA madness.
The Huskies basketball team ends on a high note, winning the championship by beating the Cougs, 67-60. Onward to the NCAA madness.

Mark March 7, 2065, on your calendar. It may represent the next time the University of Washington men'ꀙs basketball team wins an outright league title. In holding off cross-state playmates from Pullman Saturday (March 7), the Dawgs claimed an outright league title for the first time since 1953, a time so distant that 'ꀜtwittering'ꀝ was restricted to the audience reaction when Milton Berle came on television wearing women'ꀙs clothes.

The 67-60 win against Washington State gives the Huskies a 14-4 league mark, a game better than second-place UCLA. A 24-7 overall record promises to improve by at least one win Thursday when UW plays either Oregon State or Stanford during the Pac-10 post-season tournament in Los Angeles.

From there? Seemingly every half hour during the past two weeks doctors of NCAA-tournament bracketology have raised popular expectations, opining about what seeding the Huskies will receive when 'ꀜBig Dance'ꀝ partners are picked March 15. Many expect Washington to score no worse than a three seed, probably in the West Region, with games commencing March 19 at Portland'ꀙs Rose Garden. If so, many figure enough Dawg fans will migrate to Portland to mitigate the vociferous enmity locals may display toward the hated Huskies.

Few seem willing to speculate that the Dawgs may emerge 27-7 by the ides of March. But why not? The Huskies, after all, beat every league competitor except Cal. If nothing else, the league tournament will serve to give the Dawgs more experience playing in a place away from the embrace of Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

The latter, of course, was the location of the Huskies'ꀙ season-final triumph. (The building, we have not noted this season, technically is encumbered with name Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, though, any week now, that could change to Bankrupt of America, etc.) In any case the love-fest after the Dawgs had clawed their way to a win that was in doubt most of the way lasted well into late afternoon. Team (and possibly league) most-valuable player Jon Brockman was particularly engaged with purple-clad fans basking in the glow of the region'ꀙs most 'ꀜup'ꀝ sports moment — make that only up moment — since the Seahawks earned a trip to the Super Bowl more than three years ago.

Yet the MVP of the game against Wazzu may have been not the strapping Brockman but a relatively slight sophomore who didn'ꀙt even start. All season guard Venoy Overton has been getting off the bench and into games, mainly the games of the opponents. Saturday the tenacious gamer menaced Wazzu players with tight defense and aggressive play on offense, earning 11 free-throw chances and making eight along with three field goals. Miraculously he only was whistled three times. Cougar scoring machine Taylor Rochestie led all players with 23. If Overton hadn'ꀙt played, Rochestie might'ꀙve had 43.

Tenacity has been the prevailing quality of the whole Husky team. Seldom have the Dawgs produced comfortable cushions during league games, often falling behind early and being down or tied late. Against Wazzu there was a first-half stretch that seemed to last 10 minutes when the game remained tied at 15.

The fact that they'ꀙre fast, smart, well-coached and, now, suitably confident means the Dawgs may be bound for something beyond first-round NCAA play in Portland. If it doesn'ꀙt happen, what the hell? There'ꀙs always 2065.


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