Mark Fox's Lynn Nance Apprenticeship Causes Optimism Among Husky Fans

Despite a first-round match-up against a respectable opponent (Georgia) hailing from a conference (SEC) that's (slightly) superior to the Pac-10, many University of Washington fans are looking past Friday's NCAA tourney opener to a prospective second-round showdown with North Carolina, one of the most decorated programs in college-basketball history. And while normally we'd admonish Husky faithful for such overconfidence, Bulldog coach Mark Fox has UW ties that are sufficiently dubious to merit it. Fox, you see, served as an assistant under Lynn Nance (pictured) from 1991-93, an era considered by many to be the program's gloomiest.

Here's what most fans remember about the Nance's four years as the Dawgs' top bench jockey: nothing. That's both: (a) for the better and (b) unsurprising. During the two years Fox held Nance's clipboard, the most notable players on the roster were the 165 inches of collective Caucasianity known as Mark Pope and Rich Manning. Schrempf and Welp they weren't. (Hell, they weren't even MacCulloch and Femerling.)

Among legitimate Husky stars, Eldridge Recasner's last season was Nance's first ('89-'90), in which the team went 11-17. The balance of Nance's charges were a collection of brutal journeymen like Bryant Boston, Todd Lautenbach, Prentiss Perkins, and Tim Caviezel. Wait, what's that? You've actually heard of Caviezel? Nope, sorry, you're thinking of his thespian brother, Jim.

But what made the Nance era so dismal was neither the no-name roster nor the lack of success on the floor (50-62 cumulative record, with zero seasons over .500). Rather, it was the sheer lack of excitement that surrounded the program at the time. Having been a student at UW during the end of Nance's reign of error, I remember being offered free tickets on multiple occasions en route to the IMA to play racquetball. More often than not, I chose wall ball over hoops--and I'm a lifelong fan.

Here's hoping that legacy of lethargy seeps into Fox's--and not Romar's--canine crew come Friday night in Charlotte.

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