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Husky Men's Basketball

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

March 5, 2011 at 11:12 PM

Venoy Overton rips teammates following lackluster effort

venoy nice drive.JPG
Photo credits: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
One step forward. One step back.
The Huskies have repeated this tango the past three weeks. Win, lose, win, lose, etc. You get the idea. It’s not the type of dancing you’d expect from a team that had aspirations of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
The past three weeks the only thing consistent about Washington is its inconsistency.
Tonight’s 62-60 defeat to USC was no different. Washington failed to build on the momentum of Thursday’s big victory against UCLA. In fact, the Huskies came out flat again (more on that later) and dug themselves a 15-point deficit (28-13) in the first half.
The start was nearly identical to Washington’s first meeting with USC when it trailed 16-4 in the opening minutes. In that game, Terrence Ross came off the bench and dropped three three-pointers, which helped UW recover and take a two-point lead into halftime.
This time Ross never left the bench (more on him later) and the Huskies never got back into the game until a late rally in the second half.
Washington is a flawed team that’s stumbling into the postseason with their confidence shaken.
The team that scorched opponents with red-hot three-point shooting connected on 2 of 16 tonight.
The team that posted six 100-plus games this season is averaging 66.3 points in the past three games.
The team that would terrorize foes with their stifling man-to-man defense couldn’t stop USC guard Jio Fontan from getting into the lane or Alex Stepheson from cleaning the glass or Nikola Vucevic from doing whatever he wanted.
“Their guards came out very aggressively, especially Fontan,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They came out in attack mode and had us on our heels early.”
Opposing coaches used to say the same thing about the Huskies. These days, the Huskies have gotten aggressive when they’re down and desperate in the second half.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve always got off to slow starts, but we always came back,” Venoy Overton (above) said. “It seems like we take too long to get started. Seems like we got to be down by 10 points.”
Washington can ill afford another slow start. The postseason games are too important. You fall behind early and you may never come back.
In the past three games, UW is averaging 23.3 points in the first half. Blame it on the personnel, the scheme or lack of motivation, but something has to change.
“If I could there wouldn’t be no slow starts,” Isaiah Thomas said. “We just got to be mentally ready. I don’t know if it’s even that. The first 4-8 minutes we got to pound teams and take the first punch.
“I feel like we’ve been letting them take the punch the last couple of games and it’s hurting us because we keep digging ourselves a deep hole.”
Washington trailed 36-26 at halftime. In the second half, the Huskies pressed full court and at time fell back into a 2-3 zone to protect the rim against Stepheson and Vucevic. The varying tactics worked. UW sped up the tempo and chipped away at USC’s lead.
Still the Huskies couldn’t make a shot when they needed one. Anyone not named Scott Suggs was terrible on three-pointers. Suggs connected on 2 of 3 and everyone else was 0 for 13.
Even more distressing, the Huskies were 16 of 22 at the line. Shooting 72.7 percent isn’t bad. In fact that’s better than UW’s 67.0 free throw average. But in a two-point defeat, missed free throws stick out. Washington missed four foul shots in the final seven minutes when it cut its deficit to four points.
Overton ripped the Huskies effort.
“I’m trying to play as hard as I can to try and help the team win games and tonight I think, not to speak bad about anyone else, but I played hard and there were just a few people out there playing hard with me,” Overton said. “It’s got to be everybody. It’s got to be more than just three players playing hard.
“You’re going to make the three seniors mad when everybody’s not ready to play. They know what kind of time in the season it is. We preached this from day one that we got to handle our business in the regular season if you want to be playing in the postseason.”
It’s difficult to know how much this game really mattered in the big picture. Most NCAA tournament gurus believe Washington has done enough to warrant an at-large berth and the Huskies were locked into the No. 3 seed and a game versus Washington State in next week’s Pac-10 Tournament.
Still the Huskies needed a win to feel good about themselves as they enter the postseason. Instead Thomas admitted the team’s confidence isn’t very high right now.
If Washington’s follows its current pattern, it will beat WSU before falling in the conference semifinals. Then UW will claim a victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament and bow out in the second round, which would be an unsatisfying end to a season that’s promised more than it’s delivered.
MORE NOTES QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:


— Overton admitted he was frustrated by UW’s performance, but he played well and had nothing to be ashamed of. He had a second straight double-digit scoring performance. Overton provided a spark when the Huskies were lifeless. His speed put the USC guards on their heels. He got to the line nine times and made seven shots. He sank 4 of 6 field goals for 15 points. Overton also had four assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes. As good as Overton was, he couldn’t stop Fontan.
— Suggs kept the Huskies in the game with nine points in the first half. He finished with 14, the most since the second game against Oregon State. Playing in just his second game since a three-game layoff due to a knee injury, Suggs was on the floor for 28 minutes.
— Thomas didn’t get aggressive offensively until the second half when he scored 10 of his team-high 16 points. Still his outside shot is off. Thomas missed all three three-pointers he attempted. He had success when he drove to the rim. Outside of 10 feet, he’s struggling. Thomas offset the cold shooting with four rebounds and three assists.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning needed 11 shots to score 11 points. He also had six rebounds, three blocks and two steals as well as two turnovers. Bryan-Amaning was overshadowed by Vucevic and Stepheson, but that’s not entirely his fault. The USC forwards scored on several dunks and layups when Fontan penetrated the lane and Bryan-Amaning came over to help out. He played a game-high tying 37 minutes, but appeared perturbed when he was taken out late in the game.
justin block.JPG
— What’s happened to Justin Holiday lately? Washington needs him to be peaking, but he’s going the other way. In the past two games, he’s 1 for 14 from the field. Tonight the senior co-captain was scoreless on Senior Night. He missed six shots, including three treys. In typical Holiday fashion, he stuffed the stat sheet in other categories. He finished with five rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist. Holiday also played admirable defense. For long stretches Romar had him down low against Vucevic or Stepheson. Holiday is 185 pounds. Stepheson is 250 and Vucevic 260. Despite the size disadvantage, Holiday made several defensive stops.
C.J. Wilcox drained his first shot, which sent a jolt through the crowd. You had the feeling that maybe he was still hot after scoring a career-high 24 points on Thursday. But the redshirt freshman missed his next six shots and finished with four points. USC coach Kevin O’Neill screamed at the Trojans after Wilcox made his first shot. Whenever Wilcox touched the ball, O’Neill and others on USC sideline yelled: “Shooter.”
— You would think a game like this would be tailor-made for 7-foot center Aziz N’Diaye. The Trojans don’t play a zone. There’s nothing gimmicky or about their approach. And yet, N’Diaye couldn’t stand up to USC’s big front line. Offensively, he’s become a liability at times. He fights for position in the post, but the guards rarely throw it inside. It’s understandable because N’Diaye has had difficulty handling passes and finishing at the rim.
Darnell Gant tallied two rebounds in 15 minutes.
— Ross remained on the bench for the first time this season. His DNP-CD was noticeable because he was one of the heroes the first time Washington played USC. Romar said there weren’t enough minutes to play Ross, who tallied just four minutes Thursday.
“C.J. Wilcox came off an unbelievable game and we were hoping he could get going. He still only played sixteen minutes,” Romar said. “Venoy Overton started and I thought Venoy played a tremendous game tonight. He played a lot of minutes. Scott Suggs came in and did a really nice job in the first half. He came in and played and sometimes there just aren’t enough minutes.
“Those guys that played, it contributed and again C.J. If we had not have played C.J. I would have been vilified I am sure. Send me to a guillotine tonight. I probably would have sent myself for not playing C.J. He just came off from playing one of the best performances ever. But again, he didn’t play thirty minutes, he played sixteen. So it was just difficult to find minutes.”
— And finally, the night started with smiles, cheers and a warm ovation for UW’s three seniors (below). The Dawg Pack chanted: “We will miss you.”
three seniors.JPG

Comments | Topics: C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, top 25

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