We continue our recap of the 2010-11 season and take a look at Washington’s sophomores.
This class has gone through a few changes since it came together years ago. There’s been a few subtractions and one big addition.
Abdul Gaddy and Aziz N’Diaye arrived to Washington when the Huskies returned to prominence and they were supposed to help make a good team transform into a great squad.
They received extensive playing time early in their UW careers and it will be interesting to see what this group will look like as upperclassmen.
ABDUL GADDY: The sophomore guard looked as if he was going to have a breakout season before tearing ligaments in his left knee during a Jan. 4 practice. He started the season with three straight double-digit scoring games. He set career highs in scoring (17), assists (7) and rebounding (5) in the first 13 games. Gaddy averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 assists and just 1.2 turnovers.
He shot better than he did as a freshman. He got into the lane and converted his running floater. He finally used his 6-3, 190-pound frame to muscle past smaller guards for layups. And perhaps most impressively, he found confidence in a perimeter shot that was broken last season. As a freshman Gaddy shot 15 percent on three-pointers (3 for 20). This season he was 13 for 32 (40.6 percent), which is second best among the Huskies.
The season-ending injury puts a big question mark on Gaddy’s season.
In his last three games, Gaddy connected on just 3 of 17 shots and scored a combined eight points. Who knows when or if he would have recovered from the shooting slump?
Losing Gaddy forced Isaiah Thomas to move to point guard and it can be argued the Huskies were more explosive offensively under the direction of the the 5-9 junior who led the conference in assists.
On the flip side, Washington could have used Gaddy’s steady hand when it suffered a three-game losing streak. His absence was particularly noticeable when the Huskies lost to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament third-round game as the Tar Heels big guards doled out 15 assists.
After the defeat, Gaddy said he learned a lot while watching Thomas run the team the past two months. He also admitted he may need to play more minutes at shooting guard next season and perhaps share the point guard duties with Thomas.
Gaddy said he’s going to take the full nine months to recover. He’s going to spend the summer rehabbing and plans to return in October.
Photo credit: Getty Images – Kevin C. Cox
AZIZ N’DIAYE: You can argue that no one had a better UW debut than N’Diaye who burst on the scene with a career-high 15 rebounds and 13 points in the season opener against McNeese State. The Cowboys were smaller and overmatched by the 7-foot, 260-pound center. They fouled him repeatedly and sent him to the line 15 times where he made just three shots.
In many ways that game was a harbinger of N’Diaye’s season.
The free throw shooting improved just slightly in the ensuing games, but for the season he shot 41.7 percent at the line. N’Diaye was tied for eighth on the team in average minutes, but he was second in rebounds and blocked shots. He averaged 5.7 boards and 1.1 blocks.
The junior-college transfer from College of Southern Idaho was billed as a shot blocker and defensive player before he arrived and he played his role perfectly.
Two games after a 10-rebound, five-block performance against Kentucky, N’Diaye moved into the starting lineup. He started 24 of the next 25 games. He didn’t start at Arizona because he was late for a team bus and played limited minutes.
Late in the season, N’Diaye admittedly wore down a bit because his repaired knee was hurting. He didn’t start in the Pac-10 Tournament and came off the bench for UW’s NCAA tournament opener.
With N’Diaye in the lineup, Washington was able to move Mathew Bryan-Amaning to power forward.
The Huskies didn’t ask N’Diaye to dominate games partly because he wasn’t ready for that type of role. He’d missed the previous season after tearing his right ACL and was getting adjusted to playing Division I basketball.
The transition was rocky at times. He fouled out four times and collected at least four fouls in 12 games. In games at Washington State and Arizona, N’Diaye played just nine minutes because of foul trouble.
N’Diaye led the Huskies with a 57.7 percent field goal percentage and had he scored more baskets, he would be ranked sixth in the Pac-10. His shooting percentage would suggest N’Diaye is money beneath the basket, but he struggled at times in the paint and averaged just 4.6 points.
Zone defenses gave N’Diaye fits. He also had difficulty against double teams. It took some time for the UW guards to develop a chemistry with the big man and not always were they on the same page. N’Diaye needs to work on his receiving skills and develop a post move or two. If he returned next season with a mid-range baseline jumper, he might average 10 points.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said N’Diaye will work out this summer with former UW greats Detlef Schrempf, Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes. The Huskies are also looking into getting N’Diaye into a big man skills camp.