Husky basketball is back in the news towards the end of March, and both the men's and women's programs are making headlines. However, each are on opposite trajectories.
Head coach Kevin Neighbors has his women Huskies moving on to another Sweet 16, hoping to repeat their Cinderella Final Four run from a year ago. Right now they are the toast of Montlake, treating fans to an incredible two rounds that culminated in a 108-82 romp of Oklahoma in the second round.
Kelsey Plum is the toast of the NCAA women's world, only overshadowed by a UConn team that is riding a winning streak of over 100 games. Plum happens to be a senior, but fans don't have to fear a steep drop off after the presumed Naismith winner moves on to the pro ranks. That is because freshman guard Aarion McDonald has emerged as a prime candidate to carry the torch in Plum's place. McDonald showed all year long she will be ready next year, earning All Pac-12 Freshman team honors before scoring 18 points in the Huskies' second round tournament victory.
In the men's locker room, a new chapter has started. Syracuse assistant has been brought in, many were skeptical about the UW AD's choice, but the men's program needs to completely reboot. If a big name were brought in, expectations would remain as high as they ever were in the Romar era, but the likelihood is, is that the Huskies won't compete next year. Especially not without Michael Porter Jr. in uniform, which was a high possibility if Romar were no longer coach.
And amid all the speculation, surprise! Porter Jr. today asked Washington to release him from his letter of intent. He has said that it is still entirely possible that he recommits to the UW, and that he does not yet know what other schools he would put on his short list.
Moving away from the most obvious repercussion from Romar's ouster, Hopkins needs to also track down the other recruits that made Romar's class among the top three in the country. We have seen firsthand this year that having the NBA's no. 1 pick and no one else guarantees nothing, but if Hopkins can keep the other recruits in the class (all of which are ranked among the top 100), he could finish year one with a strong foundation for his tenure. He has been given some patience, signing a six year $12 million contact. Let's hope most of those six years include women's program like success.
Photo: Flickr/Dave Sizer