Photo credit: AP PHOTO – Elaine Thompson
That picture really says it all, doesn’t it? Pretty much sums up Washington’s 63-59 win over Montana.
Before we get to the game, let’s start with the starting lineup change.
Venoy Overton was benched because he arrived 30 minutes late to shootaround. He said he got held up because of the Seattle marathon and ran into several detours on the roads. He knew the consequences of being tardy and was cool with the punishment. Not that he had much of a choice.
So that’s why Abdul Gaddy got his first college start.
The other lineup change (Tyreese Breshers in, Darnell Gant out) is almost as simple to explain.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said Breshers is Washington’s second-best rebounder and he’s been playing well in practice. I get the feeling Romar wasn’t going to use Gant at all, but turned to him because he was looking for answers to solve Montana’s zone defense. Not that Gant provided any. He did, however, give a lot of energy and had a season-high tying four rebounds.
When asked if the starters will start Thursday at Texas Tech, Romar was coy. He gave an eloquent answer, but essentially he didn’t give up much.
It looks as if Overton returns to the starting lineup partly because he’s a difference-maker and partly because freshman Abdul Gaddy didn’t make the most of this great opportunity. Gaddy had several open looks, especially on two three-pointers, and he finished 0 for 4 from the floor. He also had two assists and a turnover.
As for Breshers, he might remain as a starter. He only played 16 minutes and it’s unlikely he’d play more than 20 at this point because his conditioning isn’t what it needs to be. He wasn’t great tonight, but he had his moments. And he gives Washington a little more toughness when paired with Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
— Two ways to look at a game like this. Either it’s good to face adversity early in the season and overcome it – that’s Romar’s take – or Montana provided every team on UW’s schedule the blueprint to beat the Huskies.
Not that it was much of a secret. Everybody who posts here knows UW’s kryptonite is a zone defense. However, the Grizzlies really packed it in. They didn’t even pretend to defend the three-pointer and dared the Huskies to make a shot beyond 15 feet. So that’s got to be a little troubling for UW fans because I highly doubt the Huskies will have a 26-8 free throw advantage on Thursday in Lubbock, Texas against Texas Tech.
It’s a little early for predictions, but I think UW’s unbeaten streak ends real soon.
— Washington has always used its defense to create offense and tonight was no different. UW had 24 points off turnovers. On the road against a good team like the 7-0 Red Raiders, which has experienced ball handlers, I doubt if Washington forces 19 turnovers. But we’ll see.
— A few words on the shooting. It was awful.
A few more words? It was putrid.
I could go on, but why belabor the point. Washington missed 25 of 33 shots in the first half. The Huskies shot a season-low 30.8 percent from the field.
There’s not much Romar can do about this because the Huskies missed open shots. And some nights he’s got to live with Isaiah Thomas shooting 5 of 16 and Quincy Pondexter going 2 for 10.
— Now to the more cheerful stuff. It was good for Washington to have Pondexter and Thomas on the bench for long stretches because nobody panicked. Not sure if Romar can have them on the sidelines at the same time for very long, but their absences gave other guys a chance to carry the scoring responsibility.
— Scott Suggs made just one of five shots – a three-pointer – but somehow he made a difference offensively. The Grizzlies respected his outside shot and kept a man on him. Anyone who thought he’d fade away after a nice start to the season may have been mistaken.
— The Elston Turner and Suggs paired nicely together. They both have reputations of being good shooters and together they stretch the opposing defenses just a little. Still not sure if Turner is out of his shooting slump though. He was 4 for 8 tonight and clearly Washington’s best offensive player.
Still he missed four of six shots behind the arc, including a few open 3s that would have made this game a lot easier. Turner also came away with a career-high tying five rebounds.
— Bryan-Amaning played a really solid game. If he didn’t have three turnovers, it would have been a good game. I really liked the game-high five offensive rebounds and two steals. It would be nice if he could block a shot or two. Still if this was an average game for him, I think the coaching staff can live with 8 points on 3-for-5 shooting and eight rebounds in 22 minutes even if he was outplayed by Montana’s Brian Qvale, who had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
— In the thread, I noted C.J. Wilcox was dressed for the game, wearing shorts and warm-up gear. Well it turns out he’s still redshirting this season. Romar said it’s just easier on Wilcox to wear playing gear on the bench rather than find a different outfit (i.e. a suit, tie, nice slacks and shirt) for games.
— Washington is doing an excellent job taking care of the basketball. UW had just 10 turnovers. It hasn’t had more than 12 any game this season.
AND FINALLY SOME POST-GAME QUOTES
(How was Montana’s zone different from San Jose State’s?) “They did a good job of not letting catches get in the middle and when we got in the middle they did a good job of collapsing. They really tried to force us to shoot outside shots. They were just really solid in everything that they did on the defensive end of the floor. It was hard for us to get cracks at the rim sometime.
(Do you think more teams will play zone against you?) “Definitely because of how our team’s make-up is. We have tremendous guards and sometime we can go with four guards and a big or even five guards sometimes. It’s hard for teams to match up defensively man-to-man. We’re going to see a lot of zone defenses and they’re really going to try to get us to shoot from the outside and I think we are going to be able to knock it down.”
(How would you describe Venoy Overton.) “He plays defense. He’s out there. He’s everywhere on the defensive end. He can change the game, as you guys know, by not even scoring a point. He’s in the offensive dude’s grill the whole game. He’s one of a kind. You don’t see that everywhere you go. You see big men that can block shots, but a guy that can pick up right when they inbound the ball and change the offensive guy’s direction until he gets to the hoop. It’s ridiculous.”
(What concerns do you have as you go on the road?) “To me, this game provided some of the adversity that the road provides. First half, maybe you think you should have gotten a call here or there. We shot 24 percent or whatever it was in the first half. We couldn’t get anything to fall. Those are some of the things that happen on the road. I’m glad we were able to play this game before we hit the road because it’s going to make us better mentally for Thursday night.”