Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
Abdul Gaddy (above, left) displayed poor body language at times, which suggested maybe he was frustrated during Washington’s 91-74 victory over Georgia State in the season opener tonight.
He committed four turnovers, the most since his freshman year. He also missed all three three-point attempts and converted just three of nine field goals.
Despite the mistakes, the junior point guard may have proven that he’s the most important player to a successful run this season.
That’s what GSU coach Ron Hunter believes.
“The key to their basketball team, is that point guard (Gaddy) controls everything,” Hunter said. “When he plays well they’re going to be hard to beat. That kid’s really good. You can see the glitter with the other guys, but that point guard, he’s special.”
We touched on Gaddy’s importance in the exhibition post-game analysis. We also mentioned earlier today that this was the kind of game in which Washington could produce it’s first triple-double performer.
Almost quietly, Gaddy came close to accomplishing the feat. He finished with seven points, a career-high seven rebounds and game-high six assists in 32 minutes.
Gaddy also played lockdown defense in the second half. Early on, the Huskies had trouble keeping 5-11 guard Devonta White out of the lane. After the break, their defense improved.
“Our inability to stop the middle drive in particular early led to several of their baskets and several of their uncontested shots in the first half,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We did a much better job in the second half of keeping them out of the paint on the dribble drive and consequently they weren’t getting as many open looks.”
While Gaddy was quietly effective, C.J. Wilcox (game-high 22 points and six rebounds), Tony Wroten Jr. (18 points and seven rebounds), Darnell Gant (18 points) and Terrence Ross (11 points) were the big stars in UW’s 17-point blowout.
Romar started Gaddy, Wilcox, Ross, Gant and center Aziz N’Diaye. He said the lineup is versatile. He also didn’t say how long he would remain with the lineup.
Wroten is the first player off the bench and he plays starter’s minutes. Tonight he had 26. Desmond Simmons will be the first big man reserve to enter the game freshmen bigs Martin Breunig and Shawn Kemp Jr. will contend for minutes at the bottom of the rotation.
Jerry Brewer calls Washington ‘a spectacular experiment.’
The Huskies did some good things such as shooting 59.4 percent in the second half winning the rebounding battle 44-36. They also made mistakes such as 60.7 percent (17 of 28) free throw shooting and allowing GSU guard Rashaad Richardson to score 15 of his team-high 21 points in the first half.
But the good far outweigh the bad tonight. Just ask Hunter.
“This is a tournament team,” he said. “I think (Romar) has got a better team this year than he had last year and I saw them play last year. This team’s way better and that’s no disrespect to them.
“He’s got a really good basketball team. This easily could have been a 30 or 35 point game.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND POST-GAME OBSERVATIONS:
— Wilcox was all over the place. Romar raved about his defense on Richardson in the second half. The Huskies had trouble slowing him down in the first half, but Wilcox got the defensive assignment at halftime and Richardson had six points the rest of the way. Wilcox’s 22 points were two shy of his career high. He drained five three-pointers. But he was really impressed with his rebounding.
“Coach is always on me about rebounding,” Wilcox said. “I only had two in the exhibition game so it was good to get some rebounds.”
— Gant has never been better offensively. He converted 7 of 8 field goals for a career-high 18 points in 22 minutes. Gant scored 10 of UW’s first 13 points and he got things rolling.
“I feel like the opportunities that I had to score tonight was something I’m looking forward to getting all year,” Gant said. “You know, just running the floor and getting open shots for myself. I just got to play to my strengths, and if it’s open more, then that’s what you’ll see. I was just trying to play hard and I guess, when you play hard, good things tend to happen. My teammates did a good job of finding me on the fast break, so we got a good outcome.”
— Nice debut for Wroten. He started slowly, but settled down and in the second half drove to the basket at will. Wroten’s passes are sometimes too hot for teammates, but the chemistry should improve the more they play. Aside from the seven rebounds, the best thing he did was get to the free throw line eight time. He connected on four from the charity stripe.
“I was more excited than I was nervous today,” Wroten said. “Last week was kind of a game to get all the jitters out. Even though this was a real game that counted, I was just more relaxed and focused and more ready for the game. I think I played well. I’m not perfect – I think I could’ve played better. I’m just doing whatever it takes to help my team a win and we’re fortunate enough to get a win.”
— Ross had an uneven game. He was paired against Richardson in the first half and gave the long-range gunner too much room to get his shot off. Ross also had trouble finding his spots offensively. He converted 3 of 7 field goals.
— It wasn’t a double double, but tonight’s game was perhaps a good example of what N’Diaye will give in Year 2 with the Huskies. He had trouble scoring when UW dumped the ball down low in the post to him. He missed his first three shots and had three turnovers. However, N’Diaye collected eight rebounds and blocked a career-high tying five blocks in 19 minutes. N’Diaye played his first game since suffering a concussion weeks ago.
— Simmons (above, right) made the most of his 16 minutes in his first official UW game. He finished with five rebounds, four points, two assists and delivered three fouls. He also connected on 4 of 6 free throws. Simmons also dove for two loose balls.
— Breunig had a debut to forget. It not for two fouls and a missed shot, his 10 minutes would have resulted in a row full of zeroes on the stat sheet.
— Hikeem Stewart got into the game with less than seven minutes left and he drilled his first shot, a three-pointer at the 5:41 mark. About a minute later, Stewart lofted another three-point shot near the same spot that missed badly. He had three points and two rebounds in seven minutes.
— Kemp also played seven minutes. Looks like had one rebound and one point
— Freshman walk-on Alex Wegner showed a little moxie drilling three-pointer from the corner late in the game. A minute later, Gaddy gave him a nice paint in the lane, but he missed the reverse layup. Still nice debut for Wegner. He had three points in two minutes.
— Senior walk-on Brendan Sherrer logged two scoreless minutes.