CBKB: Washington, Washington St Part 3 at Pac-10 tourney
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) – Klay Thompson is back, Venoy Overton is out and no one is quite sure if Reggie Moore or Justin Holiday will play.
And all that is before even mentioning Washington State going for a three-game sweep of Washington for the second time since 2007 when the Huskies and Cougars meet Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Conference tournament.
But the story lines go far deeper than just two bitter rivals meeting after a regular season each would consider disappointing for a variety of reasons.
There are significant postseason implications for both. A win by the inconsistent Huskies (20-10, 11-7) likely wraps up an NCAA tournament berth, while the Cougars (19-11, 9-9) could use a deep conference tournament run to make a case for an at-large bid if they don’t win the conference’s automatic bid.
And there are the off-the-floor transgressions for both schools that took center stage in the last week.
“I was thinking before any of this happened it was going to be a challenge anyway based on how we finished,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
The Huskies chances in Los Angeles took a major hit on Tuesday when Overton was suspended for the tournament after he was charged with providing alcohol to a minor. Overton will continue to practice with the team and will travel with the Huskies to Los Angeles but his suspension could be for as many as three games depending on how far the Huskies advance.
The charge is a gross misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail, though such a harsh punishment is extremely unlikely. Overton is scheduled to appear in municipal court April 1.
The case stemmed from an allegation by a 16-year-old girl that Overton sexually assaulted her at an apartment in Seattle Jan. 8. King County prosecutors declined to file charges in that case because other witnesses reported that the contact appeared consensual. They referred the case to city prosecutors because of evidence Overton bought alcohol for the girl and her 16-year-old friend.
Romar wasn’t sure how his players would respond to being without Overton.
“I really don’t know. I know guys love their teammates and, to know they’re going to battle without him on the floor, that’ll make it tough. But, we have to go on,” Romar said.
After he was done addressing Overton’s situation, Romar then said that the Huskies are unsure of Holiday’s status after he suffered a concussion in Saturday night’s 62-60 loss to USC that again put the Huskies’ NCAA resume up for debate.
Holiday is the Huskies third-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game, but did not practice Monday or Tuesday. Romar said he believes Holiday will be cleared to play against the Cougars, but if he isn’t, Washington would be down to just seven scholarship players.
“We’ve got to respond positive. Our backs are against the wall again,” Washington guard Isaiah Thomas said. “It’s been a tough year. … Nobody is feeling sorry for us. I’m not feeling sorry for us. We’ve got to go out and win.”
Meanwhile, the Cougars will get the services of Thompson, the Pac-10’s leading scorer, after he was reinstated by coach Ken Bone on Monday night. Thompson was suspended for Saturday’s 58-54 overtime loss to UCLA following his arrest for investigation of marijuana possession in the hours after the Cougars beat USC last Thursday night.
The one-game suspension of Thompson fell in line with Bone’s discipline for Moore, who was suspended for one-game in January following his arrest for possession of marijuana.
The status of Moore’s injured foot is also unclear for Thursday after he missed Saturday’s loss to UCLA with an ankle injury, Bone said.
Bone said Washington State’s sweep of the Huskies in the regular season was big for the program, but doesn’t guarantee a victory in the Pac-10 tournament. The Cougars swept three games from the Huskies during the 2007 season, including a matchup in the Pac-10 tourney.
“I think we’ll bring a high level of intensity, and assume they will too,” Bone said. “It’s do or die.”
Bone also agrees with most pundits who say the Cougars only shot at landing an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament would be by reaching the tournament final.
“If we get to the championship game, we’d have a good chance of getting in,” he said.