Washington’s exasperating basketball season, which ended with a 68-67 overtime loss to Minnesota Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York, got a little more so Thursday night when Pac-12 rival Stanford crushed the Gophers 75-51 to win the NIT championship. Lorenzo Romar must be rolling his eyes over what might have been.
The Huskies blitzed the Cardinal 76-63 at Alaska Airlines Arena Jan. 21 and would have played Stanford for the NIT title had they been able to get past Minnesota, an NIT No. 6 seed. But UW, the No. 1 seed, came out flat (which they did numerous times during the season), trailed by as many as 15, rallied to force overtime, and then committed a series of inexcusable mental lapses that allowed the Gophers to prevail.
“We just didn’t bring it,” Romar admitted.
“It’s our mentality sometimes,” Gaddy said. “We are not able to dial in. We had a senior leader (Gant) who kept telling us, `Get going! We’re blowing it!’
“What we showed in the second half (when the Huskies rallied) was the up-tempo Husky team,” added Gant, who played his final game for Washington. “The get all in your face and you can’t do anything team. Then toward the end, we had the mental lapses. We were real immature in the overtime period just like we were late in the season in games we should have won.”
What the 2012-13 Huskies will look like will become clear in the next two weeks, during which a series of key dates will confront both Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, Washington’s two leading scorers and the two Huskies named first-team All-Pac-12.
April 3 is the first of those dates. College players that want an assessment from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee must apply for one by that date. The committee must deliver the assessment by April 6.
For both sophomore Ross and freshman Wroten, the procedure amounts to a formality. Both are projected as first-round draft choices, Ross in the top third of the round, Wroten mid-to-late in the round.
The next, and most important, milepost is April 10. If a player desires to remain in college, he must withdraw his name from draft consideration by that date, which is the day before the start of the next signing period for college letters of intent.
Thus, Ross and Wroten have about two weeks to make life-altering decisions, which will become 2012-13 season-altering decisions for UW should either or both decide to depart.
In the wake of Washington’s loss to Minnesota, Ross, who led the Huskies with 21 points in that game, said he hadn’t yet made up his mind.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “I’m just going to take it a day at a time and think about it.”
Ross said he would consult with Romar and his mother, Marcine Ross, before reaching his decision.
The most recent mock drafts project Ross going between Nos. 18-21 and Wroten going anywhere from Nos. 22-27. NBAdraft.net, for example, projects Ross to Atlanta with the 19th pick and Wroten to Cleveland with the 26th.
Ross and Wroten have to determine whether their short-term interests outweigh their long-term ones. While both clearly have NBA talent, neither is ready yet to become an impact player in the NBA. In fact, some believe if they left UW now it would take them anywhere from two to four years to do so.
On the other hand, Ross and Wroten would become millionaires if they opted for the NBA and the guaranteed contracts that go to first-round picks.
Under rookie salary cap rules, Ross, rated the third-best shooting guard in most assessments, would receive a first-year salary of approximately $1.786 million, and slightly more than that his second (both sums guaranteed) based on his projected draft placement.
Wroten, currently rated the fourth-best point guard, would receive approximately $1.242 million next year, and slightly more in his second season (also guaranteed), based on where he is projected to be taken.
Over the next two weeks, both players will have to determine whether they would be better served developing skills for at least another year at UW, which most scouts advise, or whether they should opt for guaranteed money about $3.567 million in Rosss case and $2.48 million in Wrotens.
Washington’s main loss right now is Gant, the only player in school history to be a part of at least 100 Husky wins. UW’s main gain at the moment is the return of Scott Suggs, who missed 2011-12 with an injury.
Washington is next scheduled to play in the 2012 Naismith Tip-Off Tournament Nov. 11 and Nov. 13 against Loyola (Md.) and Albany at Alaska Airlines Arena. The makeup of the Husky team that will play those games will be determined on or before April 10.