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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

August 21, 2010 at 7:07 AM

Summer impressions: Taking a look at UW’s returnees

Last week we took a brief look at the newcomers who were participating in pickup games at Hec Ed. This time, we examine a couple of the returners.
It’s been noted before, but you can’t overemphasize how difficult it is to draw any solid conclusions after watching a handful of open-run games when there’s no coaching, set plays, timeouts, substitutions, officials or very much structure. The games are free flowing and they’re fun to watch, but often times the play gets sloppy and the guards tend to dominate the action.
So with that being said, here we go.

Co-captains Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holiday didn’t play in the games I watched which allowed guards Abdul Gaddy and Venoy Overton to be the vocal leaders organizing teams and generally running the show. They also matched up against each other during most games. Holiday and Darnell Gant are in Los Angeles. Not sure where Thomas is.
GADDY: It was good to see him do the little things like pick teams and take charge because for most of his freshman year, Gaddy was a silent observer. Of course he was the 17-year-old newcomer last season, which had a lot to do with him being so quiet on and off the court. Still his former coaches and the UW coaching staff believe Gaddy has natural leadership skills and we should start to see assume more responsibilities this season. As Gaddy begins to take more control of the team, it’s going to be interesting to see the chemistry between him and co-captains Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holiday.
On one of the days I watched the open-gym runs, Gaddy and Overton were constantly sparring verbally. The trash talk seemed to distract Gaddy, while Overton tends to use it to give him an emotional lift. Still, it was good to see Gaddy not shying away from the banter and being aggressive offensively. He controlled the game on the offensive end, making virtually every assist, calling for screens and telling guys where to go on the court.
Gaddy’s jump shot looks to be improved at least in a pickup game setting. He didn’t hesitate to shoot from long range and he even made a few. Gaddy did a nice job driving to the basket and he’s getting more comfortable with the floater. A few times he finished at the rim with a dunk or a layin, but most often he pulled up for a mid-range floater.
You’re not going to see much defense in a pickup game and Gaddy didn’t slow down Overton or anyone else. Gaddy also tends to display poor body language when things don’t go well. For instance when one of the new guys didn’t catch one of his passes in the lane or failed to grab a rebound, Gaddy dropped his head and sulked for a few seconds.
Watching Gaddy against former UW star Will Conroy was interesting because you felt a rivalry and a connection between the players. Conroy doesn’t have some of Gaddy’s natural gifts, but the Huskies all-time assists leader has a natural feel for the game and his teammates. Conroy also has a physique built for the rigors of playing point guard and I’m not sure if Gaddy has developed physically to where he can withstand consistent punishment from big defenders.
OVERTON: Not many people dive on the floor for a loose ball in a pickup game, but in the games I saw, Overton did it not once, but twice. Amazing. He may not be the most skilled player on the team, but he’s probably one of the most competitive. He was constantly talking, constantly take verbal jabs at everyone and pushing the tempo with the ball, which made everyone run and break a good sweat.
Overton is as quick as ever. It doesn’t appear as if he’s improved his physique and I’m told he’s not a weight room devotee, but he looks to be in good condition. Overton’s skill set is tailor made for pickup games and it’s not surprising he had great success on the day I saw him. I stopped by four times, but only saw him once. Not sure where he was on the other days.
Defensively Overton is a menace. That hasn’t changed. And without referees, he pushes the limit and gets away with things that wouldn’t be allowed in a regular game. Offensively, Overton appears to have made improvements as a playmaker. With one season remaining, it’s unlikely he’ll develop into a consistent scorer, however, Overton can be one of the team’s stars if he shows he can run a team. In the games I saw, he hardly committed a turnover, which says a lot about his decision-making abilities.
The jump shot is still suspect. Many defenders backed away from him to guard the lane and gave up an open three-pointer. Overton took several treys and didn’t make a high percentage. He also didn’t score in the middle of the court, preferring to take it to the basket for layups.
SUGGS: No one impressed me more than Suggs. Overton and Gaddy were feeding him shots every chance they could get and Suggs made the most of the scoring opportunities. He didn’t hesitate to shoot from every inch of the court. Three-pointers. Dribble drives. Mid-range bank shots. Suggs scored in a variety of ways. Many of his baskets were the result of his hustle. Suggs looks like a marathon runner was constantly moving in the half court and he often outran defenders on fastbreaks for layups.
Suggs matched up against incoming freshman Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox and he overwhelmed them with his speed and quickness. In games involving Jamal Crawford, Quincy Pondexter and Jamal Crawford, Suggs didn’t back down and at times he was the best player on the court.
Suggs looks comfortable. He appears at ease on and off the court as if he’s matured after two seasons as a deep reserve and backup. He seems ready to make a big step forward. He was the only player in the rotation who didn’t start a game last season and I suspect he’ll carve out significant minutes in the rotation. I haven’t seen Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Thomas or Holiday this summer, but among the guys I’ve watched Suggs looks like he’s ready for a breakout season.
WILCOX: Watching from the stands at Hec Ed, it was difficult not to notice Wilcox has improved his physique. He looks bigger, ripped and appears to have added about 10 pounds to his frame. For the past year, his teammates and coaches have said he’s a lights-out shooter in practice and the pickup games I saw didn’t change from his reputation. Wilcox is similar to Suggs, however, he did most of his scoring on the perimeter.
Gaddy and Overton are very familiar with his game and they know where he likes the ball. They were constantly looking for him and opponents yelled: “Don’t leave him open” whenever he got the ball. During one game, Wilcox paired against former UW sharpshooter Ryan Appleby and they took turns launching shots several steps behind the arc. It was an amazing display.
There’s no question about Wilcox perimeter shooting. If he’s open, he’ll drain a high percentage. Even if he’s not open, he has a quick release and jumps high enough to get his shot off over defenders. What I didn’t see from Wilcox was offensive variety. He did a lot of catch and shooting and little else. That appears to be the role the Huskies want for him, but it wasn’t enough for Elston Turner, who transferred after two years in the program.
TYREESE BRESHERS: In terms of the returning veterans, I wanted to see Breshers more than anyone because he wanted to make significant improvement this summer. He struggled with his conditioning during his redshirt season because he was returning from a leg injury that forced him to sit out as a freshman.
In the pickup games, Breshers had no problems running up and down the floor. He paired against Aziz N’Diaye and used his strength defensively to muscle the 7-foot incoming freshman out of the lane for rebounds. But at 6-7, Breshers had little defense for N’Diaye’s baby jump hook. Breshers also had his hands full with incoming freshman Desmond Simmons who appeared a step quicker at times.
Offensively, Breshers played a power game. Again his strength is his greatest asset and he’s not afraid of contact. Players like Breshers are the most difficult to evaluate in a pickup game because they often draw fouls and commit fouls that aren’t called when there’s no referees. They also need guards to deliver to keep them involved offensively and for long stretches, Breshers didn’t see the ball. When he did get it, he knew what to do. He backed the opponents beneath the rim and went up strong where he either converted a layup or dunk or he was fouled. Not sure if Breshers took a shot outside of 10 feet.
It’s fair to wonder where he’ll fit in next season. Unfairly Breshers was cast as a Jon Brockman clone, which at the time was a stretch to compare a freshman to one of the greatest players in UW history. He plays with a snarl and he’s got a nasty streak, which is something the Huskies could use on the front line. But it’s going to be interesting to see how coach Lorenzo Romar configures the big men. He has five players battling for minutes at two positions.
***Corrected 5 p.m.***
Bryan-Amaning figures to be the only one with a starting spot and he could play either center or power forward. N’Diaye and Simmons look as if they’ll compete for minutes and you have to expect Gant, a 6-7 junior who started as a sophomore, will make a push for a significant role next season. Breshers could be the odd man out.
Diamond Leung previews the Pac-10 for Also check out Doug Gottlieb’s Pac-10 predictions. He has UW No. 1, but he makes a surprising pick for No. 2 in the conference.
— Oregon will postpone a trip to Italy until next season because new coach Dana Altman said the team isn’t healthy enough to play 4-5 games overseas right now. The Ducks were scheduled to leave Monday.
Jeff Faraudo at the Oakland Tribune analyzes California’s non-conference schedule.
— Bryan-Amaming hasn’t played much during the EuroBasket qualifying games. He’s appeared in just two games and played a total of five minutes, scoring two points and collecting four rebounds.
— Arizona, Mesa guard Jahii Carson told the Arizona Republic he’s still interested in the Wildcats after his good friend Nick Johnson committed there on Wednesday. Carson and Johnson play similar positions, Carson believes they can fit on the same team. According to, Carson, a 5-11 point guard, is scheduled to unofficially visit UCLA on August 25 and then take official visits to Washington on Oct. 8 when the football teams plays Arizona State. He’s also supposed to visit Arizona on Sept. 17 and UNLV on Oct. 15.
— The Battle in Seattle featuring Gonzaga and Illinois will tipoff at 2 p.m. at KeyArena.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, top 25


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