Huskies Surpass Expectations in March Madness


Mimi Guadiano

UPWARD TREND: While this season is over for the huskies the team is likely to perform even better in the following years and continue to improve.

Lucian Cosson, Staff Writer

Friday, March 22, the University of Washington Huskies played the Utah State Aggies in the first round of March Madness and won 78 to 61 with a fairly sizable 17 point margin. This victory was especially impressive given that Utah State was projected to win and had previously been on a ten game winning streak. Additionally, the last time that the Huskies even made it to the tournament was back in 2011 and just two years ago only won nine games the whole year. However, the Huskies success was cut short after playing the number one seed team, North Carolina, losing 81 to 59. The Huskies stayed relatively close in the first half and were only losing 41-33 at halftime. However, things fell apart as the game went on and the Huskies offense started slowing down while North Carolina scored 13 points in a row. Now UNC will move on in the tournament to the sweet sixteen and many UW players are left feeling defeated. However, the Huskies still had a very successful season, and will likely continue to improve.

While the team will lose four seniors, Juniors Hameir Wright and Nahziah Carter will be returning next year and the Huskies will also welcome five-star recruit Isaiah Stewart. They will likely continue to improve and have a decent chance of making it to March Madness next year and consistently for years to come. Many have suspected that UW got lucky getting into the tournament this year because of the team’s inconsistent results in the past. Often, they lost against less challenging teams but then won against more difficult teams making it challenging to predict how the team would perform. However, the Huskies’ defense has continued to play well consistently. Freshman Zach Eastern, an avid fan of UW, noted that the strongest part of the team was “definitely defense. We have a player that won defensive player of the year back to back,” referring to senior Matisse, who is originally from Issaquah. In addition, this year they finished the season with a 15-3 record and at first in the Pac-12 division. This newfound success could bring more attention to UW making it a more attractive destination for prospective players and could also bring more fans to UW. Sophomore Erin English acknowledged that she was “not familiar. If teachers play it then I’ll watch it” when referring to March Madness but agreed she would be more likely to watch knowing that UW was in the tournament this year.

While the Huskies did get out of the tournament in the second round they still performed exceptionally well and especially when taking into consideration that Pac-12 teams rarely make it far in March Madness. Schools with a history of success have had time to build a strong reputation and get first choice to the best incoming players as well as gain more resources to continue to improve their basketball program. As freshman Rylie Elliot points out, “The same teams will dominate because they have the same coach and a higher chance to succeed.” Another potential reason for the West Coast’s lack of success in the tournament is strength of the teams recruiting process. When asked about the weakest aspect of UW basketball, senior Aaron Susanto responded,” Recruitments, coaches don’t have good relationships [with] high school players that they want to get.” It’s important for UW to have a very strong recruiting process to ensure that the team is able to grow and improve. Once a team starts to get skilled players and achieve success it becomes easier to recruit new players to the team. Recruitments are the important first part to growing UW’s basketball team and continuing to perform well.