Some wondered what a Washington Huskies men'ês basketball team would look like without Quincy Pondexter. Now we know. Thursday (March 25) the star senior forward drew three early fouls and was consigned to hiding in plain sight nearly the entire first half of the Huskies'ê sloppy 69-56 loss in an NCAA-tournament elimination game against West Virginia.
Thus a 26-10 up, down, way-up season ends 14 points from a place among the nation'ês Elite Eight. Pondexter should take solace in the notion that, even in defeat, his college career leaves him in consideration for the Great Eight of Husky basketball annals.
He will, of course, think often about what happened against West Virginia.
Q-Pon didn't hit his first bucket until the 17:29 point of the second half. He had it stripped four minutes later, letting West Virginia go to the line and get its biggest lead to that point, 43-38. His shot got rejected seconds later and the Mountaineers went up by seven, then nine when he didn't grab a rebound.
Maybe this was a Dawg version of a quid pro quo: a "Quincy" pro quo. West Virginia was without its prize point guard so Washington would spot the competition a starter of its own.
Whatever the case, Pondexter's apparent funk seemed to leave his teammates taking the, er, Q. At one point while the 'aineers were mounting a double-digit lead, the Dawgs missed six times under the bucket, a level of single-possession ineptitude seldom seen beyond the middle-school ranks.
None of this is to suggest that the Dawgs didn't have a remarkable March (and February), with nine-straight late-season wins and one of the greatest post-season fun-runs in memory. Moreover, they led the Mountaineers at half-time, improbable at best given that their all-league player was ineffective.
It leaves the Huskies in need of leadership going into the 2010-11 campaign. Coach Lorenzo Romar welcomes back everybody but Pondexter, who will be missed, if not desperately. To be sure, he elevated his game in admirable ways his senior year and, but for his stellar play late in the season, his teammates never would've made it to the NCAAs, let alone the Sweet Sixteen.
One can imagine that the team's maturity level will rise considerably and collectively. The Huskies will bring back four starters, three key subs, recruits, promising back-benchers, and fan vibes kept alive by the memory of another season that got the Dawgs to March Madness and almost saw them make it into April.