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Husky Men's Basketball

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

November 13, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Where is the Final Four this year?

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Photo credit: Seattle Times: Dean Rutz
A veteran member of the media corps asked where is the Final Four this year. He said I should make reservations because the Huskies will be there.
Before the game, I talked to another Husky observer who raved about the team, especially newcomer Aziz N’Diaye. After the game, that person shot me one of those “I told ya so” looks as he was leaving Hec Ed.
I ran into just one Debbie Downer tonight who still believes UW will struggle in the early part of the season and hit its stride around January.
That’s a plausible scenario given the tendency of Lorenzo Romar teams to start slow and finish fast. But this year could be different because Washington has three seniors who will play at least 25 minutes and two juniors in the starting lineup.
I don’t think the Huskies peaked during tonight’s 118-64 win over McNeese State, but I can’t imagine they’ll play another game as dominant as this one. They can play better and they probably will because the competition will stiffen, especially in two weeks in Maui. But I can’t see them being so oppressive and so destructive this season.
It was amazing. And scary. And a little sad.
At times, you almost felt bad for the Cowboys who wilted under UW’s defensive pressure and just couldn’t buy an open basket. If it wasn’t N’Diaye keeping the Cowboys out of the paint, then it was Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Darnell Gant (above) who protected the rim.
At one point, McNeese appeared afraid to dribble near Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton and it got so bad, the Cowboys were missing open layups and 17 free throws.
The Huskies surely aren’t feeling bad about anyone missing free throws. They missed 22 of 42, which was one of the few warts on an otherwise perfect afternoon.
Washington had more rebounds (69-32), assists (24-5), steals (12-6) and fewer turnovers (12-27). The Huskies’ 118 points is the third most in school history and the 54-point margin is the sixth largest in the modern era.
The Huskies attempted 92 field goals, converting 43 for 46.7 percent. They dominated inside and outside, shooting 40 percent on treys (12 of 30).
It was just a complete game.
Romar, who turned 52 today and was given a Happy Birthday serenade by the Dawg Pack, was more than pleased.
“I would have to say that we made progress in a week’s time,” he said. “There were some things we wanted to concentrate on tonight – playing efficient basketball and doing a better job on the backboards – and we accomplished that I thought.
“In a game like that, sometimes it’s difficult, if you get a lead like that, to maintain your focus and I thought we went for maybe a four, five minute period where we maybe lost focus a little bit but, all in all, I thought we did a pretty good job of it.
“We were concerned about McNeese State’s shooters and they did get it going a little bit in the second half and it got them going a little. Right off the bat, they hit two three’s on us and we were concerned about that going in. All in all, I thought we made progress and that’s what we’re trying to do every day is make progress.”
The biggest news today: freshman Desmond Simmons will redshirt this season because he’s still bothered by a surgically repaired right knee. The Huskies may need the energetic forward at some point this season, but not today.
And just in case you’re wondering, the Final Four is in Houston.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:


— N’Diaye was the MVP in my opinion. Other players scored more points and perhaps they were even better. But this game – and Tuesday’s game against Eastern Washington – are arguably more important to N’Diaye than any other player because he hasn’t played in over a year and is recovering from knee surgery. Plus, he’s playing in a new system, at a higher level and he’s the difference between UW being a good team and a great team.
N’Diaye certainly looked like he was the missing piece to a championship puzzle tonight. He got off to a rocky start, picking up two fouls in the first minute. But Romar did a marvelous thing and he left the big man on the floor. Another coach might try to protect N’Diaye. They might sit him down and coach him on the bench about avoiding fouls.
Romar channeled his inner Phil Jackson. He didn’t call a timeout. He didn’t say anything to N’Diaye or look in the direction of the 7-footer. He let the big guy play and figure things out for himself and N’Diaye responded with 13 points, a game-high 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 15 minutes. Yup, that’s 15 minutes. It’s hard to be more productive than averaging a rebound and nearly a point every minute.
It wasn’t a perfect debut for N’Diaye, who missed 12 of 15 free throws and committed four turnovers.
N’Diaye said: “I’ve been shooting them in practice, but today, I don’t know, I just could have taken more time and knocked them down. I did a poor job on my side…three for fifteen from the line…I could have done better. I’m going to keep working on that.”
— You know it’s a special team when someone can score a career-high 28 points and collect 13 rebounds and he’s not the MVP. That’s not to say Bryan-Amaning wasn’t brilliant. He was.
But Overton probably put it best when he said: “That’s just Matt being Matt. I’m so hard on him, I expect so much more form him. This game I’m not even praising him or nothing. I tell him keep working. It’s just one game. You got to look at the opponent. Don’t just live off this one game. When we play against a team with a nice big man then (do this). I told him this doesn’t mean nothing.”
I feel like I should stress Bryan-Amaning probably played better than ever before. His footwork is amazing and he has an array of post moves. He also collected five rebounds and two steals. However, he did it against a guy who was 6-foot-9 and 190 pounds. If he has this kind of night in two weeks, then the Huskies will really be excited.
— It also feels as if Isaiah Thomas is being overshadowed, but I’m sure he’s okay with that. Thomas was very efficient in 23 minutes. He hardly drove to the rim and shot it when he was open on the outside, converting six of eight shots and all four three-pointers for 17 points. He also had three assists and two turnovers.
— Slow start for Justin Holiday, who finished with his first career double double. He had 11 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Holiday defended McNeese’s best player and held Patrick Richard to five points in the first half. Holiday also struggled offensively early on missing four of five shots before halftime. He also blew an uncontested layup and misfired on three of four treys after sinking four last week.
Darnell Gant started and quite frankly he balances things out for UW. Gant is solid player. He’s not flashy, he just makes the right plays. Like Holiday, he struggled early offensively and missed his three of his first four shots. However, it appears as if Gant is committed to doing the little things that will keep him on the floor. He had five rebounds, three assists and a block.
— We’re seeing the new Abdul Gaddy, who is aggressive and looking for his shot more than ever before. At times that’s a good thing. Other times, not so much. Every point guard gets criticized for their decision making and Gaddy is no different, especially when he’s looking to score more than ever before. Gaddy converted four of eight field goals, still it seemed as if forced a few shots when he could have passed to an open teammate. His timing with N’Diaye is off. They failed to connect a few times. But it was good to see Gaddy play well defensively in the first half when he held McNeese’s three-point specialist to 1 for 7 shooting and just four points.
— Overton returned after a six-week layoff due to a hamstring injury and it was obvious his shot was off. Still, he made an immediate impact defensively and created three turnovers within minutes of entering the game. Overton had three steals and he also did a nice job running the offense. He had a game-high six assists. Still, Overton missed seven of eight shots, including an uncontested layup.
Scott Suggs continues to impress. He got benched and still scored eight points in eight minutes in the first half. Suggs is a scorer. He took seven three-pointers and 11 shots, but I counted maybe two bad shots. Suggs also collected two offensive rebounds and blocked two shots.
C.J. Wilcox finished with 13 points in his Husky debut, but it looks as if the redshirt freshman has fallen to the bottom of the rotation behind Suggs. Wilcox also had seven rebounds and two assists. ***Updated 8:41 p.m.***
— Not sure what happened to Terrence Ross in the past week. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s being a freshman. Just when it looked as if he may start, he was the last guy off the bench in the first half. Ross had six points and five rebounds.
— Walk-on Antoine Hosley made his official Husky debut and missed his only shot, an open three-pointer in the final minutes. Walk-on Brendan Sherrer also played and did not score.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs

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