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February 6, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Arizona State post-game analysis

Holiday's block.JPG
Washington junior Justin Holiday (left) is quickly making a name for himself as a defensive stalwart. He shut down Stanford’s Landry Fields and Arizona’s Jamelle Horne. Add Arizona State’s Ty Abbott and Rihard Kuksiks to the list.
It’s not as if Holiday covered both Sun Devils at the same time all by himself, but he spent significant time defending them and when he was in their face, they didn’t score. Or at least, they didn’t score a lot. Abbott finished with 10 points and Kuksiks had eight, however, in the pivotal first half when the game was decided they combined for 10.
Credit Holiday, who finished with a game-high 10 rebounds (four on the offensive glass), seven points, three assists, two steals and a block in 27 minutes. He’s been a stat stuffer lately, but his best work doesn’t appear in the box score.
Recently coach Lorenzo Romar began calling Holiday the captain of the defense and Holiday has shown why in the past few games.
Said Romar: “His arms just extend, there’s always a threat that his arm is there. He doesn’t let you get away. He’s quick, he anticipates, he’s smart, he’s physically tougher than you think and it’s just hard to get away from him.”
Said Holiday: “I do what I do every game. Just come out and stop the person that’s in front of me. It don’t matter who it is. I take pride in that. My teammates take pride in that. And that’s what helps us win games.”
When asked if he’s starting to develop a reputation as one of the Pac-10 leading defenders, Holiday said: “Maybe. I don’t know. If I am that’s good. If not that’s still good. As long as we get these wins, that’s all that matters.”
With Holiday and Venoy Overton running the defense, UW held ASU to 9 for 24 shooting and forced 10 turnovers in the decisive first half.
If not for freshman Demetrius Walker, who scored a career-high 14 points, the game would have turned into a laugher at halftime when Washington led 42-25.
As it were, Walker drained a few unexpected three-pointers in the first half that kept the suspense in the game until midway in the second half when it was obvious ASU didn’t have enough offense to contend with Washington.

Photo credit: AP PHOTO – Ted S. Warren


MORE OBSERVATIONS:


— Of course all anyone wants to talk about is the next two games, which are on the road at California and Stanford. During post-game interviews, Isaiah Thomas and Pondexter seemed to expect the questions about their 0-6 road record was going to come.
Said Pondexter: “We have a lot of momentum and I think we know what’s at stake to be right up there at the top. That’s something we’ve all wanted and won’t count ourselves out.
“To be in the position that we are in right now to be back in it is fortunate because sometimes you lose a few and the season is over. We still have a good chance at winning the championship and that’s our goal. We’re the defending champions and we need to redeem ourselves.”
— Before we get to Thursday’s big game at Cal, which has first place in the Pac-10 on the line, let’s address the ease at which UW dismantled the seventh-best defense in the nation. ASU’s matchup zone caused the Huskies fits in the past, but UW had no troubles with it tonight because it forced 20 turnovers and got 18 points off of turnovers. It says a lot that UW didn’t need an amazing three-point effort (just 4 of 15 behind the arc) to score. The Huskies’ 79 points is the second most ASU has allowed this season.
— Romar was pleased the way Thomas bounced back from Thursday’s benching in the second half in the game against Arizona.
“He did a nice job,” Romar said. “Five assists, one turnover. He did a very good job. He still maintained his aggressiveness though. He was not a conveyor belt – as I called it – just moving the ball from one side to the other. He had some real well-rounded play.”
Thomas was aggressive from the start. Despite a couple of blocks on layups, he continued to attack ASU’s zone and he pushed the ball on the break at every opportunity. The only negative aspect to Thomas’ performance, he missed 4 of 7 free throws and was 0 for 3 on three-pointers. Otherwise he was brilliant while delivering five assists without a turnover and converting several acrobatic layups.
Thomas and Overton also began a new “thing” where they shoulder bump after forcing turnovers or positive plays.
Quincy Pondexter didn’t score 30 like he did Thursday, but he didn’t have to. He made the big plays when they counted, including a rainbow three-pointer and an nifty layup when he skipped past Jamelle McMillan and floated the ball over two defenders before taking a hard foul. He scored 11 of his 17 points in the first half and cruised in the second half. He also collected five of his seven rebounds on the offensive glass.
— If this was the last meeting between Overton and ASU’s Derek Glasser, then Overton is probably pleased with the outcome. Not only did UW capture a 23-point win, Glasser finished with more turnovers (5) than points (3), rebounds (2), assists (2) and field goal attempts (2). Meanwhile Overton had nine points, four assists and three rebounds. He also had three turnovers.
— Other than Overton-Glasser, the game’s best matchup was Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Eric Boateng. Boateng, a senior, tried to muscle Bryan-Amaning in the paint. Sometimes it worked – Boateng had nine points and seven rebounds – but more often it didn’t, he also had four turnovers. MBA reached double-digit scoring (12 points) for the first time in six games and came within one rebound of notching the third double-double in his career. Still he displayed incredible quickness in transition and often beat Boateng to the rim on fastbreaks.
— It seems as if Romar has given Scott Suggs the green light. We noted this a few weeks ago, but it was apparent again tonight as Suggs took a few off-balance shots early in the shot clock. He missed 7 of 10, but UW needs him on the court because he’s their best three-point threat. He exploited ASU’s zone, knocking down a pair of treys in the corner.
Elston Turner came in and also had a three. Still waiting for him draw more fouls with a pump fake. He hasn’t taken a free throw in three games and just three in the past eight games.
— Not a whole lot from Abdul Gaddy, which is the third game when he hasn’t been much of a factor.
— Still waiting for Tyreese Breshers to string together two notable performances. He played perhaps his best game on Thursday, but tonight was limited to 10 minutes. Despite the short time on the court, he had four fouls and two turnovers.
SOME QUOTES:
ROMAR
Opening Statement:

“We never look forward to playing against Arizona State. That’s for sure. We have a lot of respect for their team, how they run their program, which makes me even more excited to watch us play at the efficient level of basketball we played tonight. Nineteen offensive rebounds is a pretty good night at the office. [We] turned the ball over 10 times against their zone. I thought we moved ball well and got good looks. Overall, I just think defensively we were dialed in, led by the captain of our defense, Justin Holiday. He was all over the place. He gets ten rebounds again in there. That’s a really nice job.”
THOMAS
What approach did you guys take take against Derek Glasser:
“We wanted to take him out of the game. He starts everything and if you can take a player like that off, then they have to go to the next guy. We did a great job on him and [Jamelle] McMillan. We let a couple of other key players get some points, but other than that we did a great job on their point guard.”
PONDEXTER
What was the difference this time against ASU?:
“We did a great job defensively this time around with the addition of Justin Holiday, I think it made it so much easier on all of us to get our job done. We really wanted to take them off that 3-point line, which they are so good at, and make sure they had tough, contested shots each time. Our team did a tremendous job of buckling down on the defensive end and that was the difference today.”

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs, top 25

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