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Husky Men's Basketball

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

December 29, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Washington Husky fans to Trojans: “Just like football!”

Washington_USC_Basketball.JPG
I hate to bring it up, but it’s really unfortunate this game wasn’t on television because it might have been one of Washington’s best performance this season. Someone on press row said it’s their best game this calender year. Not sure if I’ll go that far, but in many ways it was brilliant.
At times the Huskies 73-67 overtime win at USC was brutal to watch because of the officials who felt a need to blow their whistles on almost every possession in the second half. (More on them later). Despite the refs, this was a ugly masterpiece the Huskies should hang in the middle of their locker room.
They won with toughness, grit and smart. When was the last time you said that about Huskies?
They didn’t have a fast break point. When was the last time that happened?
And they dominated the glass against a team that was supposed to wipe the floor clean with the Huskies. Washington outrebounded USC 44-28.
Washington also connected on 13 of 17 free throws in overtime, made a couple of clutch baskets in the extra period and late in regulation and got stops when it needed them.
Perhpas the most impressive aspect of the victory over than outstanding performances from Matthew Bryan-Amaning (above, near right) and Terrence Ross was the brilliant move by coach Lorenzo Romar to abandon his trademark man-to-man defense and switch to a 2-3 zone.
“For us man is our bread and butter,” Romar said. “We might not play zone again. Who knows? But at least we know we have it if we need it. We’re a man-to-man defensive team.”
The zone allowed Washington to shut down Nikola Vucevic, who had a game-high 28 points and 14 rebounds and forced the Trojans to shoot from the perimeter where they missed 16 of 21 three-pointers. Romar essentially removed Vucevic and Alex Stepheson from USC’s offense and put the game in the hands of Jio Fontan, who was 4 of 14 from the field, and Maurice Jones who was 0 for 4 on three-pointers.
Romar also had to make adjustments on the offensive end because USC was determined to not let Isaiah Thomas beat them. Trojans coach Kevin O’Neill assigned 6-foot-6 Marcus Simmons on 5-9 Thomas and it worked.
The Huskies didn’t force many turnovers, which stalled their fastbreak offense, their leading scorer was taken of the offense and their best perimeter shooter C.J. Wilcox was out with an injury. (More on him later). Still, Romar had options. He preached patience. He made the Husky guards throw the ball inside to Bryan-Amaning. He managed minutes for Aziz N’Diaye who was saddled with fouls. He sat Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs who were ineffective. He chastised 6-6 Justin Holiday who failed to take advantage of a height advantage against 6-foot Fontan.
But Romar’s winning move offensively was playing Ross, a freshman, 26 minutes and giving him the green light to shoot it whenever he wanted despite it being a big game.
“You don’t micromanage scorers,” Romar said of Ross weeks ago. “And he’s a scorer. You lay it out for them. … The good players know what to do on the basketball court. They don’t need a lot of rules and restrictions. That’s Terrence. Similar to Isaiah when he was a freshman.”
Without Ross, the Huskies don’t win. They needed more than his 18 points. They needed his four rebounds, two steals and his nonchalant confidence that everything will turn out okay.
“I don’t know if Terrence even knows how big of game this was,” Bryan-Amaning said. “To him, it’s all the same.”
With all the purple-clad Husky fans inside Galen Center, it almost felt as if Washington was playing inside Edmundson Pavilion. The UW crowd was loud and they enjoyed themselves before the game and near the end.
“We really got some great support from them tonight,” Romar said. “They were loud and very noticeable for our players. It definitely helped us out a lot.”
And finally, a few words about the officiating. It was horrible. Forty-nine combined fouls, 27 on Washington, which tied a season high. Three Huskies fouled out and two had four fouls.
Romar didn’t criticize the refs and said the Trojans style tends to result in lots of fouls.
“I’d be willing to stick my neck out and say after teams play SC that question might get asked because they’re physical and they make it just a grinding game,” he said. “Fouls get called and that’s how they do it. … That is how that team plays.”


— Not sure which three-pointer from Ross was bigger. He hit back-to-back treys late in the first half. His third one gave UW its first lead, 28-26. His last one put UW ahead 51-46 with 4:52 left in the second half. He also came up with a clutch offensive rebound late in regulation and scored in the post. Ross did a little bit of everything and was Washington’s MVP tonight.
— At times when the Huskies didn’t have much of an offensive identity, it had Bryan-Amaning. He was defended by Alex Stepheson and Vucevic was always lurking nearby, however, Bryan-Amaning never strayed from the post and repeatedly went up for shots. Some of them rattled out. Most of them went in. He finished 6 of 11 for 18 points. He collected a team-high eight rebounds and sank 6 of 9 from the line. This was the performance many UW fans was hoping he’d have against Kentucky and Michigan State. As good as he was offensively, Bryan-Amaning was equally impressive on the defensive end where he held Stepheson to eight points.
— Uneven performances for everyone else, including Venoy Overton who scored eight of his 12 points in overtime. He resumed his role as the closer and had a great finish, which included 9-for-13 shooting from the line. Overton also had six rebounds. He missed four of five shots and was unable to rattle USC guards at times when UW didn’t play zone. Overton also missed a three-pointer late in the final minute of regulation that would have given UW the lead.
— It was shaping up to be a big game for Holiday, but he was unable to exploit Fontan in the paint. Still Holiday had some of his best moments in overtime when he drained a three-pointer for the first points in the extra period and converted a pair of free throws. He was also a willing defender on Vucevic.
— Thomas said he wasn’t bothered by Simmons, however, the Huskies guard was somewhat muted offensively. He finished with 10 points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 shooting at the line. He also committed a game-high six turnovers. Thomas had a chance to be the hero late in regulation when he had the ball at the top of the key as time as winding down. He made his move with about seven left on the shot clock and missed a three-pointer with seven seconds left.
— N’Diaye had six rebounds before fouling out in 14 minutes. Otherwise, it was a forgettable night for the big guy.
— The same might be said for Gaddy who now has back-to-back sub-par games. Last week he was 1-for-6 shooting against Nevada. Tonight he was also 1 for 6 and had four points. Despite the shoddy shooting, Gaddy collected a career-high tying five rebounds.
Darnell Gant played 22 minutes because N’Diaye was in foul trouble. Gant fouled out before collecting a rebound, scoring a point or making an assist. Judging from the stats you’d think that was a miserable outing, however, the Huskies needed his 6-8 frame on the floor.
— Suggs came into the game firing. Unfortunately, he missed his two shots and didn’t play in the second half or overtime.
— Wilcox has a staph infection in his right hip. He said he’s been bothered by it for a couple of days and the pain was too much for him to play. He’s hoping to return Friday.
— Washington extended its Pac-10 winning streak to eight games and won its school-record fifth straight road league game. Both streaks obviously date back to last season.

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

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