Let’s start with an injury update before breaking down Washington’s 77-60 win over Seattle Pacific tonight.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said Aziz N’Diaye, who did not play after suffering a concussion earlier this week, should be cleared by doctors and available for the Nov. 12 opener against Georgia State.
“He’s feeling much better,” Romar said. “When you have a concussion a lot of it is measured based on how your head is feeling. Headaches and dizziness is going away rapidly. I’m sure he’ll be able to play come Saturday. Nowadays everyone is very cautious with concussions. You take every precaution and make sure someone is alright before they get back in there with contact.”
Romar started his post-game interview praising SPU and said the game proved the Huskies need N’Diaye.
However, without their 7-foot center UW outrebounded SPU 41-36 and blocked 10 shots. Romar noted C.J. Wilcox had two blocks and Terrence Ross had eight rebounds. Romar said UW’s length in the backcourt allows it to compete in the post with taller teams.
There were lots of smiles from Romar and players following the 17-point win.
Washington used every healthy player and Romar got a long look at many rotations and combinations before the Nov. 12 opener against Georgia State. Thirteen players saw action, nine scored and played at least 11 minutes.
“We got a lot of work in,” Romar said.
The offense sputtered at times while the trapping, smothering and aggressive defense performed better than many Husky fans envisioned. Washington made life miserable for SPU players early on. The Falcons shot 25.8 percent from the field in the first half and 34.9 for the game. Washington did what it normally does to visiting teams at Hec Ed, they created turnovers and ran the opposition out of the building. UW had 19 fast break points while SPU had none. The Huskies also ha 16 points off of turnovers.
“We have so much length,” said Abdul Gaddy (above, middle). “We’re a bigger team and we just get so many deflections on defense that it’s crazy for other teams. It creates fast break points and we get so many highlights.”
Washington had many highlights and after the game, Romar could chuckle about a technical foul given to assistant Jim Shaw with .01 seconds remaining in the first half.
“I can’t remember that ever happening before,” Romar said.
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— It’s difficult to pick a star due to the balanced scoring, but Wilcox showed he’s matured beyond being strictly a jump shooter. The sophomore guard twice used a crossover dribble in the open court to blow past SPU guard Jobi Wall and finish over a defender for a layup. A couple of times Wilcox lost the ball on a dribble drive, it was nice to see him being aggressive and taking the ball to the rim. He also didn’t hesitate when he had an open look outside. Wilcox hoisted 12 three-pointers and converted five. He finished with a game-high 19 points.
“I was just trying to get into a rhythm,” Wilcox said. “I got enough attempts at it, so it’s not a problem. It’s all good.”
Wilcox doesn’t expect to take normally take 12 treys, but he’s not averse to it.
Wilcox played a team-high tying 29 minutes and its clear that he’s poised for a breakout season. He looks markedly better on the defensive end where he blocked two shots and collected a steal.
— Ross quietly put together an incredible performance. He scored 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting and I don’t remember him taking one bad shot. Even better, the 6 foot 6 guard collected a game-high eight rebounds. He also went to the free throw line four times – converting three – and dished three assists in 27 minutes.
— If Gaddy averages 15 points, four assists and four rebounds, the Huskies will contend for the Pac-12 title because the junior co-captain’s success seems to be a barometer for the team’s success. He was aggressive early and drove to the rim for layups. Other times he directed the offense and did not commit a turnover. Gaddy wasn’t spectacular, but he was incredibly efficient and didn’t look like someone returning from season-ending knee surgery. Romar raved about Gaddy’s assist-to-turnover ratio, while others cringed at his 1-for-4 three-point display. Opponents will give him that shot and he’s got to make a higher percentage to space the defense and open up room in the middle.
— It’s difficult not to be captivated by Tony Wroten Jr., who had 10 points, four six rebounds, four assists, four turnovers, a block and a steal. He’s a stat stuffer. Wroten also is a highlight machine. What goes unnoticed is his size and how he uses his 6-5 frame to overpower opponents for rebounds or bully his way to the rim for layups. Wroten’s passing gets a lot of attention and his vision is unlike anyone who ever played at UW. He’s daring to a fault. When the passes connect, Wroten looks like a genius. When they don’t, he looks reckless. It’s a fine line and Romar said he enjoys helping the freshman make better decisions.
“It’s a lot of fun working with Tone because he has all this vision and all of this ability. Just helping him see kind of when is it time to be clever. When is it not time to be clever. It’s going to be fun seeing him grow in that regards.”
— Looks like Darnell Gant is going to be the unsung hero this season. He had a tremendous defensive first half against SPU’s 6-10 center Andy Poling, who had 2 points on 1-for-7 shooting at the break. Gant tired in the second half and Poling finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Still, Gant deserves kuodos for doing the dirty work. He had four rebounds in 22 minutes. His 1-for-5 shooting undermined what was otherwise a solid performance.
— Not sure if Desmond Simmons will remain in the starting lineup with N’Diaye returns, but he made a strong case for himself tonight. The redshirt freshman doesn’t look for his shot, which is why he had just three points. But he’s deadly offensively when he sets screen and drifts to the baseline for a mid-range jumper. Regardless of his scoring, Simmons finds a way to impact the game. He dove for a loose ball on the opening possession, which set the tone for how UW was going to play defense. Simmons nabbed six rebounds and two steals in 15 minutes.
— Martin Breunig looks like another freshman who can help the Huskies this season. He has a knack for scoring partly because he’s got soft hands. Breunig snagged a pair of slick passes from Wroten for layups, including a no-look pass through the defense. Breunig is active around the basket and he’s a big guy at 6 feet 8 and 210 pounds. At times he rushes offensively, which may have happened on his two turnovers. Still he played 17 minutes and blocked a shot.
— Shawn Kemp Jr. hadn’t played a game in over a year and it showed. Admittedly he’s rusty and he’d probably like to have a few of his four fouls back. But Kemp also did a lot of good things in 12 minutes. He had three rebounds and blocked two shots. Better days are ahead. He could be an early casualty if Romar needs to trim the roster to make room for N’Diaye. Once his conditioning improves and his confidence grows, Kemp could play a valuable role as a reserve later in the season.
— No one blocked more shots than Jernard Jarreau. At 195 pounds, he’s thin. But the 6-10 freshman is also freakishly long. He doesn’t need to jump to affect shots. Tonight he had three blocks and I’m not sure if his feet ever left the court. Jarreau also had two rebounds in 11 minutes. He’s got potential and could carve out a significant role as a defensive stopper.
— Freshmen guards Hikeem Stewart and Andrew Andrews played fewer than eight minutes and combined for two points, 0 assists and two turnovers. Andrews is redshirting while Stewart will likely struggle to find consistent minutes early on.
— Walk-ons Brendan Sherrer and Alex Wegner also made an appearance in the final minutes of the 17-point blowout.
— Senior guard Scott Suggs sat on the sideline still wearing a protective boot around his foot. He’s no longer walking with crutches.
— The Huskies hosted 2012 recruit Landen Lucas and 2013 prospect Stephen Domingo. After the game it looked as if Kemp and Andrews were their hosts.