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Husky Men's Basketball

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

January 30, 2011 at 10:36 PM

After 87-80 WSU defeat, Thomas says “We don’t need to panic”

wsu storms the court.JPG
It was surreal and strange watching the Washington State fans storm out of stands at Friel Court. Apparently beating the No. 18 team is justification to party as if you’d just won a national title.
The “Over-Rated” chants. Okay. But it seemed a little much when the crimson-clad fans formed a mosh pit at midcourt and the Cougars mascot body surfed over a sea of fans who danced and partied on the floor following the 87-80 Washington defeat.
Then again you can hardly blame the Cougars for being excited. They hadn’t beaten the Huskies since 2008. It was the first win over UW for anybody wearing crimson and gray and the first WSU defeat for Isaiah Thomas, who had won four straight against the cross-state rivals.
“For them to storm the floor, I’ll remember that when they come over here,” he said referring to the Feb. 27 rematch at Edmunson Pavilion.
Thomas slogged through an uneven performance. His accuracy wasn’t there tonight (3 of 13 and 2 of 6 on three-pointers). He was careless at times with the basketball and committed a season-high seven turnovers.
“Won’t happen again,” he said.
Despite the miscues, Thomas was Washington’s best player, especially in the second half when he nearly single-handedly put the Cougars in foul trouble. Thomas attempted 12 free throws and converted 11.
“I just wanted to be aggressive and try to make plays,” he said. “The shot wasn’t falling so I wanted to go to the hoop. That’s how I got a lot of my points.”
The change in philosophy didn’t come soon enough for the Huskies, who attempted 31 three-pointers and converted 11.
Despite the abundance of shots behind the arc, coach Lorenzo Romar said he could live with UW’s shot selection and was upset with just three ill-advised treys.
I counted a few more than three. More like 10 or so. Maybe less. Mostly I came away thinking UW had a huge size advantage, which resulted in a 46-32 rebounding advantage. And yet the Huskies weren’t able to exploit WSU’s small front line for points. It’s difficult to dominate an opponent like that on the glass and not be able to go inside for points. But that’s what happened.
The Cougars came into the game allowing 39.0 percent shooting to conference opponents, which was the best in the Pac-10. Washington shot 37.1 percent.
Romar expected it to be an off night shooting and he was more concerned about Washington’s 24 turnovers. Scott Suggs committed five TOs, Justin Holiday had four and Venoy Overton three.
Romar had to be concerned with the lack of playmaking from anyone other than Thomas. The Huskies finished with just 12 assists.
Washington’s defensive breakdowns were also a major concern. The Cougars killed the Huskies with dribble penetration that resulted dunks for DeAngelo Casto and Marcus Capers or open three-pointers for Faisal Aden.
Klay Thompson bolstered his candidacy for Pac-10 Player of the Year with a 25-point, five-steal, four-rebound performance. He was the best player on the court even though he missed several free throws in the final minutes.
At the halfway point in the conference season, the Huskies (15-5, 7-2 Pac-10) are tied for the lead with Arizona. Washington closes the Pac-10 with five home games and four road games, beginning this week with games at Oregon State and Oregon.
“We don’t need to panic,” Thomas said. “Just need to try and not let this loss turn into two. We got two road games coming up and we just got to be smart, be a mature team and have a short memory and take it out on the Oregon schools.”
Thomas is right. There’s no need to panic. Still tonight’s defeat was alarming because for the first time this season the Huskies were thoroughly outplayed. You could make an argument that in the previous four defeats, they could have won. Not this time.
Washington lost control of the game late in the first half and came out flat to start the second half, while WSU went on an 10-1 run. The Huskies closed to within five points (68-63), but they never seriously looked as if they could beat the Cougars tonight.

mba sad.JPG
Photo credit: AP Photo – Dean Hare
— The Huskies will struggle when Matthew Bryan-Amaning (above) goes 1 for 8 from the field. He was terrific on the glass and had 11 rebounds, but UW needed points in the paint and Bryan-Amaning was smothered by WSU’s 2-3 zone.
“I don’t know if we looked in there enough (to Bryan-Amaning),” Holiday said.
— Holiday tied his career best with 12 rebounds. He also had 16 points. Holiday struggled from three-point range (2 of 7), but he went to the line seven times and connected on six attempts. Defensively, Holiday also struggled against Thompson.
— Reserve forward Darnell Gant was impressive filling in for Aziz N’Diaye, who was in foul trouble. Gant collected a season-high seven rebounds and he scored nine points.
— The game appeared to be too fast for N’Diaye who played a season-low nine minutes because he couldn’t stay out of foul trouble.
— Overton also couldn’t stay on the floor because of fouls. He played a career-low eight minutes. He finished with four fouls, three turnovers, two points and two rebounds.
— Just once I’d like to see Suggs pump fake, draw his defender in the air and draw a foul. Opponents are fearful of his three-pointer and every time he fakes, defenders leave their feet. Suggs, however, drives around them for a better shot. It’s not a bad idea. And he scored 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting. But UW needed to go inside tonight and the next development in Suggs’ game is being able to drive to the basket, finish at the rim or draw fouls and get to the line. Thompson was a catch-and-shoot player, but look at him now.
Terrence Ross played 22 minutes, sank half of his shots and scored 14 points. Still, it was an average game for the freshman because defensively he wasn’t where he needed to be on a few occasions. Once Ross becomes a better defender, he’s going to be a very solid player.
— And finally C.J. Wilcox didn’t play because he suffered a concussion in Monday’s practice when he ran into a N’Diaye elbow. Romar said there’s greater concern these days with concussions and Wilcox was not cleared by the medical staff. He’s expected to return to practice Tuesday. When asked what impact not having Wilcox had, Romar said: “He’s a pretty good shooter.”

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


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