Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Perfect Storm

By Wally Mersereau

The sky was gray, but the ground was dry, when I arrived in Seattle early on Saturday afternoon. I had successfully left the rainy Bay Area behind. Weather forecasters were not in agreement as to whether or not the Bay Area storms would reach Puget Sound. Until 6 pm optimists, including me, were smugly pleased. I didn’t bother to carry an umbrella as I strolled downtown streets.

But then a few light snow flurries suddenly appeared. By 7 pm there was a light coating of snow on the roofs of parked cars and by 9 pm trees and roofs were white. On Sunday morning I looked down from my hotel windows at all horizontal surfaces covered with snow. Residents told me this was the first significant snow of the winter.

On Friday Stanford barely won a close game over Washington State and Washington had barely lost a close game to Cal. By Sunday the Bay Area teams had crossed the Cascades in opposite directions. Stanford had not contained the two quick Cougar guards. Would it do better against the two quick Husky guards? I headed for Alaska Airlines Arena on the UW campus to find out.

Red brick Hec Edmundson Pavilion was built in 1927 and seats 10,000. Alaska Airlines obtained naming rights to the facility in 2011. About 2,800 fans trudged through the snow on Sunday to see what would happen after tip-off. Little did they know.

I probably should have recognized the snow storm as being a bad omen. Washington jumped out to an early lead and the storm inside the arena began to build. It was a case of excellent, but not outstanding, shooting by the Huskies combined with unbelievably dreadful shooting by the Cardinal.

The team stats tell the depressing story. UW made 30 of 64 shots from the field at a rate of 46.9%. Good, but not great. But Stanford made 28 of 81—yes, that’s right—53 unsuccessful efforts for an embarrassing 34.6% return. How could that be? Stanford missed 53 shots! Wait, there’s more.

From beyond the arc, Washington made 9 of 22, a respectable 40.9%. Stanford made the same number of 3-pointers, but out of 41 attempts for an embarrassing 22%. How could that be? Stanford had 32 failed 3-point efforts! Where did all of the talented long distance Cardinal shooters go? They were all there, heaving it up time after time with little to show for their efforts.

Only from the free throw line did Stanford excel—making 17 of 20 for 85%.

I could go on, but you know the rest. You also saw it unfold like a bad dream.

Washington played a great game. The Huskies were not intimidated in the least by #3 Stanford. Every UW starter scored in double digits. The Huskies did not Fear the Tree. Many UW players stepped up. Stanford did not contain the quick Husky guards--or any other Washington players. Sadly, Stanford fell short, ending a long string of Pac-12 wins.

This was not a good trip to the Northwest, almost a loss to Washington State on Friday and then today’s debacle. Time to take a deep breath, reflect, and then begin again. This team is too good not to bounce back and play better than ever.

Go Stanford!


  1. Thanks for your report. I wonder whether the Husky's victory will impact attendance at the Pac-12 tournament.

  2. Good question, Harriet. I would think more locals would turn out for the last games of the tournament in hopes that the Huskies can do well.

    The tournament has the potential to be a good one.