One of the most bizarre Washington University basketball seasons in program history – despite the global pandemic – occurred during the final week of any conference games and post-season tournaments the Huskies played.
At one point with a 1-11 record, they were one of the worst teams in the country, but they have made up for it with stray wins here and there.
By beating California on Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Arena, the Huskies (5-17 overall, 4-13 Pac-12) are likely to avoid a second consecutive finish in the conference.
No matter what the Huskies do, Cal’s Bad News Bears (8-17, 3-15), coached by former UW assistant coach Mark Fox, are so incompetent they are unlikely to beat seventh-placed Oregon state (11 -11, 7-9) or third place Oregon (14-4, 9-3) next week at home and escaping from the basement.
At 3-16, Mike Hopkins’ men tease the worst UW team out of 119 the school has dropped. Once again, their recent wins over WSU and Cal over the past week will allow them to avoid despair.
Husky is now in the middle of an overcrowded schedule.
They have just played three games in six nights at Seattle and Pullman. They will play three more games in five nights in Tempe and Tucson, Arizona. In all, they will have eight grueling matches in 17 days.
“Our people have to be tough mentally,” said Hopkins. “We have to be brave and go out and do the best we can.”
Hopkins, who prefers to use the eight-man rotation, expects to call on nearly all 10 scholarship players and 7-foot-4 walk-on Riley Sorn to pass this test of will.
That means players missing in action, like second-tier RaeQuan Battle and junior-college transfer Nate Pryor, the guard who didn’t play against Cal, will reappear.
This means 6-9 second-year J’Raan Brooks, a USC transfer who has only made sporadic appearances, will have to come off the bench for more quality time.
The Huskies face 10th place Arizona State (7-11, 4-8) on Tuesday and Thursday, and Arizona (15-8, 9-8) on Saturday morning.
As their basketball season drops to a week long in Arizona and the possibility of a Pac-12 tournament game or maybe even two in Las Vegas, the Huskies will try to avoid a 20-season losing season, something that has happened only four times in program history. (5-22 in 1994, 10-20 in 2000 and 2001, and 9-22 in 2017).
Meanwhile, Huskies lasted three months without any players contracting COVID-19 or having to withdraw from the game. By playing three games in Arizona, they would get their entire conference schedule.
Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @ DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven
Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: HuskyMaven / Sports Illustrated