My Two Cents on Tony Wroten’s Decision

I preface everything I am about to say about Tony Wroten’s decision to enter the NBA draft in June with the idea that I have no idea what his personal situation is financially, and I absolutely cannot enter the mind of a 19 year old basketball player. That being said, Tony Wroten made what is unmistakably a terrible choice yesterday.

Wroten after missing four free throws in the final 18 seconds in the opening game of the Pac-12 tournament against Oregon State.

The above picture is Tony Wroten’s legacy at UW, whether he likes it or not. A season that was filled with plenty of highs, the mercurial freshman point guard’s biggest flaw in his game proved to be fatal for the Huskies. The Huskies lost 86-84 in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament, a game that Wroten for all intents and purposes dominated. He scored 29 points on 10-19 shooting, had seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. But unfortunately the game was in his hands at crunch time and he lost the game at the foul line. He shot 9-15 at the stripe on the day but going 0-4 when it counted. He then followed that up by shooting a combined 14-41 in the NIT. Not that it matters because the NIT is about as competitive as WSU’s admissions process. Boom. From a standpoint of his legacy at UW, Tony Wroten ended it about as poorly as you possibly could. People asked me what my thoughts were on whether Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten would leave for the NBA. I consistently said that I thought Ross was gone, but Wroten had no choice but to stay after how his season ended. Not only from a team standpoint but from his own skill set being utterly exposed. He can’t shoot. And this is coming from a guy that would probably have trouble putting Dick Cheney away in a three point contest. But aside from basketball, my perception of Wroten staying in school at least another year comes from another source.

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Top 11: UW Basketball Players of Romar Era

To lighten the mood of Husky fans who, the more I think of it, got jobbed today I decided to reflect upon the great players that have come through UW under head coach Lorenzo Romar. Here is the second edition of The Top 11, which I can again best describe as “ambiguous sports rankings with considerable bias.” This list was harder than I thought it was going to be, as after the obvious choices it gets hard to choose from. I also made the distinction that the players have to have already cemented their legacy as Huskies. So no Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross, Aziz N’Diaye, Darnell Gant, or Brendan Sherrer on this list because they got some business to attend to. Also, my apologies to the family and friends of Zane Potter, but he also missed the cut. Here we go.

11. Ryan Appleby

Eating good in the neighborhood! Easily one of my favorite calls of Bob Rondeau, which he did after every made Appleby three. And there were a lot of them. Appleby sunk 231 treys

No one possessed the swag that Appleby did.

in his three year career at Washington, which makes him the all-time leader in the category. He has three of the top 5 most prolific three point shooting seasons in UW history. That’s pretty nuts for a guy who had the athletic ability of most of the fans who watched him. He was deadly from three throughout his career and although he rarely made a shot inside the arc, his work outside of it puts him in the Top 11. Appleby also had one of the biggest middle finger performances of all time. After getting punched in the face by Aaron Brooks of Oregon in the ’06 Pac Ten Tourney, Appleby met up with Brooks at Oregon in February of 2007. Brooks was suspended for the first game in Seattle that season, but was allowed to play in the game in Eugene. And this transpired.

I absolutely support this gesture, for a few reasons. First, Oregon sucks. And second, you don’t owe anybody anything after they disrespect you. UW lost that game, but Appleby hit five threes in the first half. Forget that Brooks had 30 that game, but remember that Appleby was an all-time great at UW.

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Where They Stand: Husky Basketball

The stretch run is upon us and the Huskies are sitting firmly upon the NCAA Tournament bubble. What must they do to ensure a spot in the field of 68, or what will their possible falters result in? Let’s take a closer look.

I think we can all agree that when the Dawgs entered Pac-12 play with the lackluster record of 6-5, there was the feeling that this year could be a long one. We saw a lack of leadership, disorganization, and not playing to the high potential that is expected of by this team. Some of these answers still have not been addressed, but one thing we know for sure is that the Huskies are 12-3 in conference, which is good enough to be tied for first place. So good even, that it is only the second time under Lorenzo Romar that the Huskies have posted that record through fifteen conference games. The only other time was in the ’04-’05 season when Nate Robinson, Will Conroy, and Brandon Roy (to name a few) led the team to a 29-6 record and a number one seed in the tournament.

The '04-'05 Huskies. What's more to be said?

So what’s the difference between teams you might ask? It’s simple and very clear. Non-conference play. In that impressive ’04-’05 season, the Huskies boasted a 10-1 non-conference record, with their only loss coming at the hands of Gonzaga over at the McCarthy Center. But, that season the Dawgs played a total of zero ranked teams in non-conference play. As a matter of fact, they only played one ranked team all season: Arizona, who was ranked sixth both times the teams matched up.

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The Legacy of Brandon Roy

Brandon Roy is the reason I love Husky Basketball. A warrior with a jump shot, Roy was an absolute force at UW throughout his career. He came to the UW after wisely turning down the NBA straight from high school from Garfield High School in 2002. Roy proceeded to become a standout part of the beginning of UW Basketball’s entrance into the national scene under coach Lorenzo Romar. Roy went from being on a 10-17 team as a freshman to taking the Huskies to three straight NCAA tournament appearances. He was an instrumental part of the #1 seeded 2005 team that included UW stars such as Will Conroy, Nate Robinson, Tre Simmons and Bobby Jones. After the crushing loss to Louisville in the Sweet 16 that season, the true Brandon Roy magic happened.

Brandon Roy’s senior season was my favorite year of Husky Basketball. Roy led the Huskies  in points, assists, and blocks that season averaging 20.2 points per game, 4.1 assists per game, and 5.6 rebounds per game his senior year en route to becoming Pac-10 player of the year and leading the Dawgs to a #5 seed in the NCAA tournament. But it was more than that. He was consistently dominant in 2006, with 19 twenty point games out of 33 games. This included back to back 35 point games against Arizona and Arizona State, and putting up 30 against Oregon in a season that earned him 1st Team All-American status. Roy lead the Huskies to beat UCLA twice that season, upset #4 seed Illinois to get to the Sweet-16 before an epic showdown with #1 seed UConn.

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Growing Pains

Six seconds left. Down by two. Ranked opponent. Madison Square Garden… As a college basketball player this is what you live for. This is what all those hours in the gym have been for. It’s what is known as crunch time. A moment that separates the winners from losers, not just on the scoreboard but also in the way in which you truly play the game. This was the Washington Huskies on Tuesday evening, playing in front of a national audience. And as we’ve come accustomed to as Husky fans, they couldn’t overcome the challenge.

The young Huskies have stumbled out of the gates this season, having dropped three of their first seven games. You can point the finger at many different things whether it be foul shooting, youth, or lack of an inside presence (although Aziz has shown great improvement). But the two things that glaringly stand out, to me at least, are as follows: leadership and organization.

When you think of any elite team, or even a halfway decent one, you usually can link that team to a certain player that they have; the face of the program, per say.  When I think of the 2011-2012 Washington Huskies I think of Isaiah Thomas, and then I realize that he left for the NBA. Who is this team? Who leads them on the court? Who will be the one to take the last shot in a game like last night’s against Marquette? These are questions that need answers and they need to come quickly because before we know it conference play will be starting and that’s when every single game counts twice as much. As for the present, the player that is closest to being the guy would have to be Terrence Ross. Possessing the most talent on the team besides possibly Tony Wroten Jr., Ross is on the cusp of being an absolute force for this basketball team. When he makes the jump to that next level of basketball it could get scary for every team that has to face the Dawgs. But he hasn’t hit that stride yet, which puts us in the situation we’re in now.  Continue reading