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Husky Men's Basketball

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January 13, 2011 at 6:10 AM

Huskies receive high marks on midseason report card

For the most part, the 17th-ranked Washington Huskies (12-3, 4-0 Pac-10) are where they thought they would be at the midpoint of the regular season.
They believed they’d fare a little better than 1-2 in the Maui Invitational, but probably didn’t think they’d pull off the school’s third ever sweep in Los Angeles two weeks ago and beat USC and UCLA.
The one-point defeat Texas A&M was a disappointment, while the perfect home record that includes nine blowout victories is reason to smile.
“We were looking to win the Maui or at least get two wins,” assistant Paul Fortier said. “Then after that we always tell our guys we expect to win at home. Then we only played two on the road and they were a big two down in Southern California and I think those losses helped us overcome that start at USC and then to go ahead and get a sweep with the UCLA win.”
Our story for the newspaper and website takes a look at whether UW can maintain its early-season success while coping with the loss of starting point guard Abdul Gaddy and dealing with a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl by a basketball player.
Here’s a player-by-player breakdown, including first-half grades:


Matthew Bryan-Amaning: A
Perhaps the most important player for the Huskies. He’s the team’s only low-post scoring threat and leading rebounder, who averages 7.5 boards per game. Started the first five games and was benched for four games partly because he didn’t rebound and defend as well as the coaches were expecting in Maui. Since returning to the starting lineup, he’s averaging 17 points and 10.2 rebounds in the past six games. The knock on Bryan-Amaning was he played poorly against good teams with imposing big men. He won the Pac-10 Player of the Week award, however, after dominating performances at USC and UCLA. Both schools have two of the better front courts in the conference.
Abdul Gaddy: Incomplete
The sophomore guard will undergo reconstructive surgery Friday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in left knee. We’ll never know if Gaddy would have been able to recover from a three-game shooting swoon before suffering the season-ending injury. In his last three games, he connected on three of 17 shots. In the first 10 games, Gaddy made great strides to erase a forgettable freshman season. He was poised and steady when directing the offense. He was aggressive and accurate with his shot while connecting on 12 of his first 25 three-pointers (48 percent). Gaddy led the Pac-10 in assist to turnover ratio at 3.1 (49 assists/16 turnovers) before being injured.
Darnell Gant: B-
He may never become the player that others think he should be. At 6 foot 8 and 225 pounds, he averages just 2.9 rebounds, which is fifth on the team. But the junior forward who never attempted a three-pointer before this season has the team’s best three-point shooting percentage at 50 percent (10 of 20). His ability to stretch defenses with his outside shooting has been an asset. He’s a willing defender, who is adept at blocking shots off the ball. His experience and knowledge of the system is invaluable. And despite being benched, he’s one of the most positive players on the team.
Justin Holiday: B
Considering his fast start and the back-to-back 20-point outings against Texas Tech and Portland, it’s fair to say Holiday is in a mini-slump at the moment. Certainly his three-point shooting has fallen off in the past three games and he’s connected on just two of 11 attempts from downtown. After scoring at least 11 points in each of the first eight games and establishing himself as an offensive threat, Holiday hasn’t cracked double digits in points in the past three games. He remains a highly productive player who fills up a stat sheet.
Antoine Hosley: Incomplete
The walk-on freshman has had limited opportunities to make an impact. He’s appeared in the final minutes of eight blowouts. Hosley still needs to develop as a point guard and learn UW’s system. He’s one of three healthy point guards, but in an emergency situation coach Lorenzo Romar said he’d move one of the shooting guards to point guard.
Aziz N’Diaye: B+
The 7-foot newcomer has thrived in his role as a defensive enforcer. N’Diaye is second on the team averaging 6.0 rebounds and first with 1.4 blocks per game and a 58.5 percent shooting percentage. Since moving into the starting lineup, UW has outrebounded nine of 10 opponents and not coincidentally the Huskies have a 9-1 record. N’Diaye has posted two double doubles. He’s fouled out of three games – the most on the team – and offensively he’s limited. Still N’Diaye might be linchpin to a championship season because he stabilizes the defense and allows Bryan-Amaning to play against smaller forwards.
Venoy Overton: C
A litany of injuries, including a hamstring pull, bruised tailbone, hyperextended knee and sore shoulder has led to a slow start for the senior guard. He started the past two games in place of Gaddy and Saturday played one of his best games of the season, finishing with eight points and seven assists against Oregon State.
Terrence Ross: B
Most of the nonconference season was forgettable for the freshman who had a scoreless outing, a four-minute performance and a string of games when he wasn’t a factor in the outcome. When the Pac-10 season began two weeks ago, it’s as of light bulb went off or a flip was switched. Use whatever metaphor you want, the meaning is the same: Ross has been nothing short of sensational. He saved the Huskies at USC and he dazzled the UW fans with a 25-point showcase against Oregon. Perhaps no player has more upside than Ross, who looks as if he’s starting to discover his vast array of talents.
Brendan Sherrer, B
One of the most improved players who transformed his body since joining the Huskies last season and improved his conditioning. Romar has confidence in Sherrer which was on display at USC when the coach called for the junior walk-on, who has only appeared in the final minutes of blowout wins, late in the first half against USC. The Huskies were in foul trouble and Romar needed a big body. Sherrer, however, sat at the scorer’s table for two minutes and never checked in because there was not a stop in the action. Despite not playing, the game was a significant sign in his development.
Desmond Simmons: Incomplete
I’ve only seen glimpses of him in practice. He looks better than he did at the start of the season when a knee injury practically forced him to redshirt this season.
Scott Suggs: B-
The good news, Suggs is second in the Pac-10 conference shooting 48.9 percent on three-pointers. The not-so good news, he’s fifth on the team in three-point attempts. Suggs has drained 22 of 45 behind the arc and he’s embraced the role as UW’s spot-up shooter. Still one could argue he doesn’t shoot enough. Or maybe he doesn’t receive enough minutes. He’s averaging 15.7 minutes, which is eighth on the team. Suggs also has a nasty habit of disappearing offensively on the road. At home, he averages 11.1 points. On the road, he averages 2.0. Eight of UW’s next 12 games are away from Hec Ed.
Isaiah Thomas: A
The junior guard believes he could average 20-plus points and he’s probably right. Still he understands the Huskies need him to be a distributor and run the offense because Gaddy is out. Thomas’ scoring is down 16.0 points per game from 16.9 ppg last season, however, he’s shooting better from the field (45.6 percent vs. 41.5) and behind the arc (70.6 vs. 73.2). The reason he doesn’t receive an A+ is due to his early free throw struggles. In the first eight games, he was shooting 61.7 percent at the line. In the next seven games, however, he’s missed just seven of 38 attempts and is shooting 81.6 percent on FTs.
C.J. Wilcox: B-
Tale of two seasons for the redshirt freshman. Since missing a potential game-winning shot in the final seconds of the Texas A&M defeat, Wilcox has fallen off the map. Before facing the Aggies, he led the Pac-10 in three-point shooting and was building a reputation as one of the best shooters in UW history despite playing in just a handful of games. Since A&M, he’s connected on just 4 of 22 field goal attempts and has made only one of his last 11 three-point tries. Wilcox missed the USC game due to a staph infection in his right hip, but says he’s feeling better. It remains to be seen if he can recover from this shooting slump.

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

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