To be more specific: Washington lost to Albany at home. And the craziest part is Albany didn't even play all that well.
Go ahead, look at the box score. The Great Danes -- who entered the season ranked No. 213 in Dan Hanner's Lineup-Derived Preseason Projections, for the record -- shot 45.1 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from 3, and 62.5 percent from the line. Only two players, Mike Black and Jacob Iati, scored in double figures (with 20 and 22 points, respectively). Albany grabbed just 20.4 percent of their misses, and got to the free throw line on just 31.4 percent of their possessions.
I repeat: Albany didn't even play that well.
Indeed, Washington was just that bad. The Huskies went 41.5 percent from the field, made just 3 of their 12 3-point field goal attempts, and missed 11 of their 26 free throw attempts. They were better than Albany in the other four factors (turnovers, rebounding, free throw rate), but threw up a 44.3 percent effective field goal percentage, and that was essentially the difference.
How did this happen? Unlike yours truly, who was consumed by the Tip Off Marathon within the social media bunker here in Bristol, Basketball Prospectus writer and UW expert Kevin Pelton was actually watching the game, and he offered some helpful perspective today:
Things turned when Great Danes coach Will Brown went to a zone defense that the Huskies were unable to crack. From the 13:24 mark to the 2:31 mark of the second half, Washington made just one field goal. At the other end, Albany was slowly finding an answer to the Huskies' superior size. The shooting of Iati, who made half of his 12 three-point attempts, was a major factor. Washington couldn't risk leaving the sharpshooter alone for a second, which opened up the floor for his teammates. When the Great Danes started bringing N'Diaye out of the paint, they had their solution. Albany scored seven times on eight possessions. Ordinarily, Romar would have gone zone to keep his rim protector down low, but Iati's shooting made that too much of a risk. So by the time the Huskies made adjustments on offense, they were playing from behind and it was too late to keep the game from going down to the buzzer.
So, what does this mean for Washington's season? As tempting as it is to freak out, I largely agree with Pelton's take: Close games, and wacky results, happen all the time this time of year. Typically, they are forgotten, often because they end in narrow you-may-now-exhale wins. Anything can happen in 40 minutes. When that anything becomes a loss like this, it resonates more. But it's safe to say Washington is not nearly as bad as they showed on Tuesday night.
Still, it's clear the Huskies are in a bad way. Lorenzo Romar's success in the past seven seasons has been predicated largely on talent and depth. Romar stocks his talent with quick, athletic players, and then runs all of them at opponents at near-breakneck speed. But with a mere seven-man rotation right now, the Huskies are handicapped. Even if they don't take another loss this bad all season (a fair bet), it could still be a very long season in Montlake.