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February 27, 2010 at 10:18 PM

Washington State post-game analysis

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Midway into Washington’s 59-52 victory at Washington State I asked a couple of reporters if Matthew Bryan-Amaning (right) was the best post player in the Pac-10.
They stared at me blankly for several long seconds not offering an alternative choice. Many of them echoed the sentiments of Bryan-Amaning’s critics. They bemoaned his finesse approach and haven’t found the beauty in the Brit’s baby hook.
I said: “Okay there’s Arizona’s Derrick Williams, but that’s about it.”
Finally out of frustration they conceded, until somebody said: “Roland Schaftenaar.”
I think he was joking.
At any rate, the way Bryan-Amaning took over the first half, he’s quickly moving into the discussion of most dominant big man. And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised any more when he explodes for 15 points, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the first half like he did against a quality big man in DeAngelo Casto.
The Huskies will gladly overlook Bryan-Amaning’s five turnovers if he gives them 17 points and season-high 12 rebounds for the rest of the season. Especially if he connects on eight of 11 field goals and hauls in four offensive boards. My only complaint, just two free throws. But the officials weren’t calling many fouls tonight, much to the dismay of the soldout partisan Cougars crowd.
And it’s difficult to find fault in Bryan-Amaning’s third double double of his career and the first since the Montana game last season.
A bunch of reporters grilled Bryan-Amaning after the game searching for reasons for his late-season transformation. He’s averaging 13.1 points and seven rebounds over the last six games.
“I’m making the same moves,” he said. “Trying to be strong going towards the basket every time I shoot looking for contact and trying to get some fouls on them. And my shots are just falling.”
When asked if there’s anything more to his approach, he said: “Sometimes the simple answer is the best answer. If you look at it, I’m not making any different moves really. … Coach (Paul) Fortier says to me when you’re playing hard, things start to go your way.”
The only person who stopped Bryan-Amaning was the official who gave him a questionable third foul late in the first half. Once he was in foul trouble, Wazzu attacked the middle, which sparked its second-half comeback and ultimately led to Isaiah Thomas’ late-game heroics.
MORE OBSERVATIONS:


— Thomas shared top billing tonight with Bryan-Amaning. Not only did he score 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, his defense on WSU freshman Reggie Moore (eight points on 1-for-8 shooting) went largely unnoticed.
Thomas also had the sixth sense to know somebody had to take over in the final minutes and he was not afraid to take the big shots, including a pair of three-pointers.
“You got to stay with confidence. Keep your head held high and shoot it with confidence.”
— Another Thomas note, he set a career milestone surpassing 1,000 points. He has 1,002 in 62 games. He’s the 35th Husky to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
— One more Thomas note, during the Cal-ASU game early in the day FSN analyst Marques Johnson said his first-team all-Pac-10 list includes: Quincy Pondexter, Jerome Randle, Landry Fields, Ty Abbott and Klay Thompson.
Thomas said he didn’t watch the game, but I wonder if he didn’t look at tonight as an opportunity to improve his resume against one of the league’s top scorers in Thompson. I also wonder if Johnson would revise his voting after tonight’s game.
— Statistically, three Huskies are better free throw shooters than Venoy Overton who is .786 at the charity stripe. Still, coach Lorenzo Romar didn’t want anyone else at the line when UW held a two-point lead (52-54) with 19 seconds left. As the manic crowd rained noise down on Overton, he calmly sank both foul shots to seal the game.
Otherwise, he didn’t do a whole lot. He had five rebounds, four points on 1-for-4 shooting, two assists, two steals and two turnovers.
— This wasn’t one of Pondexter’s better games. He contributed with rebounds and solid defense when the game was on the line. His scoring, however, was off the mark. Pondexter was scoreless in the second half, missing eight shots. He finished with seven points in nine games.
— Other than two awful turnovers, Justin Holiday played a really good game. He realized the Huskies didn’t need his scoring and concentrated on shutting down Thompson, who missed 12 of 14 shots and finished with five points and five turnovers. That’s a win any day for UW.
— The Wonder Twins (Scott Suggs and Elston Turner) struggled with their accuracy, which isn’t a big surprise because three-point specialists generally aren’t as effective on the road as they are at home. They combined for five points, one three-pointer, one assists and no rebounds.
— Remember at the beginning of the season when we talked a lot about Romar’s rotation and his use of 9-12 players. Well that talk has gone away. As the season winds down, Romar is tightening the rotation and freshman Abdul Gaddy is starting to feel the squeeze. He played a season-low eight minutes, finishing with two points and two assists.
— And finally, Tyreese Breshers gave the Huskies an inside presence during his 10 minutes on the floor. He collected three rebounds, a steal and a block while dishing out two hard fouls.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, Reggie Moore, Scott Suggs

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