One year ago today, the Huskies were the proud owners of a 7-10 conference record (16-14 overall), and headed for a postseason berth in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational Tournament. One year later, that same team is 13-4 in Pac-10 play (23-7 overall) and sits atop the conference with a chance to take home their first outright league title tomorrow. Sure, we could include their last outright title — that of the 1953 Washington Huskies — but that championship was garnered in the old Pacific Coast Conference, before the Pacific 10 Conference was even conceived. In addition, the team has all but locked up a top-five seed in the NCAA Tournament and appears destined for a strong showing in the upcoming Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.
The amazing turnaround has come much sooner than expected (the Dawgs were projected to finish anywhere between third and seventh in the conference), and has breathed life into a city that suffered through a miserable 2008. Besides the disappointment of the Husky Men’s Basketball team last year, Seattleites endured a litany of miserable performances from their local ballclubs. The Mariners finished dead last in the American League West, after posting the second-worst record in Major League Baseball; the Seahawks escaped the division basement thanks to the 2-14 St. Louis Rams, but still tied Cleveland for the fifth-worst record in the NFL (4-12); the Husky Football team was one of the worst programs in all of NCAA Division I, going winless at 0-12; and then there’s the Sonics, who managed the second-worst record in the NBA, then left town after 41 years in the Emerald City. To say 2008 was horrible would be an understatement.
Now, however, we’re two months into a new year, and so far things are looking up. The Mariners have new management and a familiar face (ahem, Junior) back in a familiar jersey (#24). The Seahawks have made key offseason acquisitions and appear to be headed in the right direction. The Husky Football program is led by a group of young, enthusiastic coaches who are 100% focused on turning this team’s fortunes around. The Sonics, unfortunately, are deceased. But at least they still suck in their new hometown. And lastly, we’ve even added a new professional franchise, the Sounders FC of the MLS.
Of course, none of our other teams have yet to play a game this season. The Husky Men’s Basketball team has played 30, and have perhaps their most meaningful contest tomorrow afternoon. Sure, the postseason still lies ahead, but the significance of a victory tomorrow and an outright Pac-10 Championship would be huge. For the team, for the university, for the fans, and for this city. We’ve been down for so long, and a win tomorrow couldn’t help but pick us up. It’s hard not to let emotions get involved when thinking of where our city was just one year ago, and where we are now. I know I’m proud of our bright future, and I hope you are too. Let’s go out and get that W tomorrow. Go Dawgs!