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Husky Men's Basketball

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

November 16, 2010 at 10:37 PM

More Final Four talk following a blowout UW win

Photo credit: Seattle Times – Cliff DesPeaux
Last week a courtside observer commented Washington looked like a Final Four finalist.
Tonight Eastern Washington coach Kirk Earlywine made a similar comment.
“They should have legitimate hopes of playing in the Final Four,” he said. “Their guard play is that good. (Venoy) Overton (above) is such a good on ball defender. (Matthew Bryan-) Amaning is playing really well in the middle as well and if their big boy (Aziz N’Diaye) can keep coming along, then they will be a very good team.
“Washington is a team that will continue to get better and they should have legitimate hopes of making the Final Four.”
Perhaps, but following their 98-72 win over EWU, the Huskies have turned their attention to Hawaii and next week’s Maui Invitational.
Tonight’s 26-point victory wasn’t as dominating as the 118-64 throttling in the opener, but in many ways it was just a satisfying considering Eastern is a better team than McNeese State and the Eagles played a 2-3 zone for most of the game.
Unless second-year Virginia coach Tony Bennett has made drastic changes since his days at Washington State, UW won’t see a zone Tuesday against the Cavaliers.
In fact the only team at Maui that uses a zone is No. 2 Michigan State. Still, it was a good test for the Huskies.
They didn’t shoot particularly well in the first half, 16 of 40 from the field and 5 of 19 on three-pointers. Despite the poor marksmanship, the Huskies made good decisions and took good shots. They simply missed. Justin Holiday said coach Lorenzo Romar didn’t mention the three-point shots at halftime. The coach talked more about the 16-25 rebound disparity and being outhustled.
Coach Steve Sarkisian coined the term “big little offense” to describe the Huskies following the BYU defeat and I thought UW had “big little defense” in the first half, meaning they made some big plays like blocking shots or creating a steal, but didn’t do the little things like rotating and boxing out.
Earlywine put it better when he said: “Washington at times in the first half didn’t want to guard us for more than 10-12 seconds. I feel like in the second half they changed that a lot and were playing a lot tougher defense.”
Overton sparked UW in the second half, but perhaps the turning point was when Abdul Gaddy dove for a loose ball on one possession and took a hard charge on another.
Romar on Gaddy’s dive: “That kind of seemed to get everyone else going. We began to start to play like that. That was more Husky basketball. The first half, we didn’t do that as much.”


— Overton was the MVP because his defensive tenacity and ball hawking changed the game late in the first half. Aside from his defensive pressure, he played a marvelous all-around game. His numbers are Holidayesque. Overton finished with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals in a team-high 25 minutes. He also sank an open three-pointer.
Overton also negated EWU forward Tremayne Johnson, who had 10 points in the first half and just three in the second when Overton was assigned to him. And the weird stat of the night: Overton didn’t commit a foul.
Said Overton: “(Romar) said 20 (Tremayne Johnson) was killing us in the first half and he wanted me to get on him and slow him down. I guess (Romar) didn’t want him to bring it up anymore, so that took away that problem fast.”
Overton took a hard fall in the second half and after the game, he limped out of the building clutching a bag of ice on his hip. He said he feels sore, but the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
— Holiday played his best game offensively, scoring a career-high 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Most impressive was his mid-range shooting. He was asked about the plays in which he flashed to the high post and knocked down a few shots.
Said Holiday: “Our coaches have been putting a big emphasis on that … and first Terrence (Ross) stepped up and was doing it before I did it. I (saw) Terrence was doing and I just followed his example.”
Gotta love that humility.
— Bryan-Amaning did exactly what he should have done, he controlled the middle. He collected six offensive rebounds and 10 boards to go along with 14 points and two blocks. Bryan-Amaning displayed some guard skills when he collected a steal, led a fastbreak and threw a halfcourt pass to Holiday for a layup.
“Didn’t know I could do that did you?” he said.
— There was so much to like about Gaddy tonight. Start with the three three-pointers, which is quite remarkable considering he made three all last season. Then go to the efficient 5-of-6 shooting for 13 points. Or how about the six assists without a turnover. And to top it off, he even had three rebounds and a steal.
But the best part of Gaddy’s night were the defensive plays we noted earlier that won’t show up in the box score. One press row member said Gaddy has shucked being pretty and is now being gritty. Not sure if I’d describe Gaddy’s play in the past as pretty, but I understand the comparison.
When he dove for the loose ball, Gaddy wrestled with a EWU player long after the play was over. He said: “That’s a territory thing. If he would have took it from me, I would have let him know that he’s just more physical and tougher than me. I get that from Venoy and Isaiah. In practice, they do that all the time.”
I asked Gaddy if he was grittier this season and he agreed. He admitted he didn’t have that mindset early last season, but has changed because of his teammates.
He said: “That’s how we play. That’s how coach Romar is. I’m just learning from Venoy and Isaiah. Those guys are like that. I’m going up against those guys in practice and Holiday is especially like that. You just learn from them.”
— It was a difficult day personally for Isaiah Thomas who tweeted concern for a family member throughout the afternoon. Maybe Thomas was affected during the game. He only hit one big shot – a three-pointer early in the game – and committed a team-high three turnovers. Still, Thomas managed to positively impact the game in other than scoring. He collected a career-high tying five steals to go along with nine points on 2-for-9 shooting and four assists.
— Eight players scored at least eight points, but the game’s other star was Ross, who carried the Huskies in the first half when no one else could make a shot. I’ve noted Ross isn’t gun shy and he shot it almost every time he touched it, which was a good thing seeing as how he sank 4 of 8 shots for nine points. Oddly enough, Ross only took one shot in the second half.
Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox had every opportunity in the first half, but they just weren’t able to connect. Wilcox looked as if he was pressing early on. He was 1 for 4 in the first half and Suggs was 0 for 3. They were able to find some offensive rhythm in the second half. While Suggs didn’t shoot it particularly well, he finished with a career-high five assists.
Darnell Gant and Aziz N’Diaye contributed to the “big little defense” problem. They both had some highlight blocks – Gant sent a layup three rows into the stands – but at times they were caught out of position. They finished with two rebounds each and combined for nine points.
— Walk-ons Brendan Sherrer and Antoine Hosley are still searching for their first points of the season. Not sure when we’ll see them again as the competition will stiffen next week.

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


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