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Husky Men's Basketball

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

November 13, 2011 at 9:05 PM

After 2-0 start, will Washington vault into top 25?

aziz post up vs fau.jpg
Plenty of questions for the Huskies following their 77-71 victory that felt like a defeat during post-game interviews with players.
— Why didn’t Washington go to greater lengths to exploit its size advantage over the smaller Florida Atlantic?
— What contributed to UW’s 38.1 percent shooting?
— Will the Huskies continue to struggle at the free throw line where it shot 68.6 percent (24 of 35)?
— Is C.J. Wilcox Washington’s best player?
— Will the real Darnell Gant please stand up?
— After a promising debut, why did freshman Tony Wroten Jr. struggle in his second game?
— Can UW play a game like this next Sunday at Saint Louis and win a game?
Coach Lorenzo Romar tried to answer most of those questions after the game. One question that wasn’t asked: Will Washington (2-0) vault into the top 25 when the rankings are released Monday?
UCLA (0-1) should fall out of top 25 after losing its opener. Florida State, Michigan State and Temple each received more votes than UW in the preseason AP rankings. However, FSU is just 1-0, MSU (0-1) lost its opener and Temple has not played a game.
The Huskies might have had a stronger case to warrant a leap into the top 25 if they had finished strong against the Owls, who cut a 15-point second half lead to four in the final two minutes.
Washington was up 74-64 with 2:24 left, but shoddy perimeter defense allowed Florida Atlantic to drill three-pointers on consecutive possessions and cut the UW’s lead to 74-70 with 1:22 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Abdul Gaddy threw the ball away for Washington’s turnover. Things would have really gotten interesting if forward Kore White nailed a three-pointer on FAU’s next trip. His shot missed. Aziz N’Diaye (above, right) secured the rebound. Gaddy made two free throws and crisis averted.
Romar was critical of UW’s mental approach.
“I didn’t think that we mentally came out with the intensity that we needed and focus,” he said. “At times I don’t think we concentrated like we should have and Florida Atlantic made us pay for it. They can be stingy at times on defense and offensively they run their stuff. In the first half I thought we played a lot better than we did in the second half.
“In the first half I thought we defended pretty well, in the second half they exposed us in a lot of different ways. I don’t like to learn, and say we’ll learn from this. I prefer to win and learn from this. Hopefully this was one of those games where we won, but a lot of lessons to be learned from this one.”
Romar knows he has a young team with five newcomers, but to borrow a boxing analogy they have to learn how to knock out an opponent that’s staggering against the ropes.
“The really good teams, they step on people’s throats,” he said. “We missed a lot of easy shots early in the game and sometime subconsciously when you don’t see that ball go in the basket a number of times you get deflated.
“We shot 38 percent, but we were playing at home. The really good teams can go on the road and shoot 35 percent and still win the game because they don’t let the ball not going into the basket affect them. They still defend. They still rebound. They still play with intensity. We’re not there yet. We have to get there.”
While a lot of attention was given to Washington’s erratic finish, the start is also somewhat troubling. On Saturday against Georgia State, the Huskies built an early 11-2 lead before quickly giving back its advantage.
It happened again Sunday. This time UW jumped ahead 11-1, but was unable to deliver an early knockout.
“We start out the game really good,” Gaddy said. “The last two games we come out with like a 10-0 run or 11-1 and then when our second group comes in we kind of drop off. I think that’s the thing we got to work on is keeping our energy up when those guys come in. We got to play hard for 40 minutes. We can’t have mental lapses. We just got to keep getting better because we haven’t met our best test yet. We got better games coming down the road and we got to be prepared for them.”
“It’s to be expected but we’re not going to settle for it. We’re trying to win games so you either come in and have energy and earn minutes or you won’t if the energy keeps dropping like that. Those guys are going to keep getting better. Especially our freshmen. They’re going to keep getting better because they play with a lot of energy. They’re tough guys. They rebound well. They’re going to keep getting better.”
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Aaron Jaffe

— Romar said Wilcox, who led UW in scoring for a second straight night, is playing at an “all-conference level right now.” The sophomore guard scored 19 points on 5-for-13 shooting. It’s obvious that he’s going to get shots. He forced a few and he wasn’t as sharp as he was in the opener. Last year, if Wilcox didn’t shoot well he didn’t know how to help his team. This year, he’s contributing in other areas. Tonight he had a career-high four steals and collected four rebounds. Perhaps the best thing about his game tonight, Wilcox generated points when his shot wasn’t falling. He attempted a career-high eight free throws and made six.
If not for California sophomore Allen Crabbe, who scored 24 and 21 points in the Bears’ first two games, Wilcox would likely win the first Pac-12 Player of the Week award, which should be announced Monday.
— Admittedly N’Diaye rushed his shot tonight. He missed several layups against a smaller FAU front line. But N’Diaye didn’t get deterred and neither did teammates who continued to feed the 7-foot center with passes. Gaddy and Wroten each picked up at least one turnover on misconnections with N’Diaye. Still he finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in 27 minutes. He also sank 3 of 5 free throws. That’s a good night, but it could have been a great night if N’Diaye had finished just a little better around the rim. FAU attempted to negate N’Diaye defensively with pick-n-rolls, especially in the second half. Washington likes to switch defenders on the play, which leaves N’Diaye paired against a smaller guard. He displayed lateral quickness on the perimeter and was able to get back and protect the basket.
— Gaddy was quietly effective once again. For the second straight game, he played more than anyone else and logged 35 minutes. The Huskies needed his steady hand. They also needed his scoring. He had 15 points – two shy of his personal best – and a team-high six assists. Gaddy was aggressive offensively early scoring nine points and connecting on 4 of 5 shots in the first half. He played off the ball most of the night and it had to help his confidence to drain his only three-point attempt late in the game.
Romar on Gaddy: “He takes his time and does the right thing. He’s very trust worthy. … There were a number of times last year when we could have used him because there was a storm, but we weren’t calm. He brings exactly that. In the mist of everything that’s going on, he just kind of calms everyone down with his play and his decisions.”
Terrence Ross needed 14 shots to score 14 points, which isn’t very efficient. It appears as if he’s still being patient on the offensive end. At times when he did attempt to force the action, he committed a couple of his three turnovers. Ross was 1 for 5 on three-pointers, but he sank 5 of 6 free throws. He also collected five rebounds and had a couple of big blocks.
“I’m going to focus on getting defensive stops,” Ross said. “That’s what I grade myself on at the end of the night, and have the coaches give me feedback about how I did on the defensive end. I’m not really worried about the offensive end because I know its coming. I’m trying to get better at defense. When we get stops the other team doesn’t score, so that’s what we’re trying to do, run the clock down and play defense.”
— Odd night for Gant. He scored a career-high 18 points on Saturday and Sunday he registers just two points on 1-for-4 shooting. Gant didn’t attempt a shot in the first half and he had only taken one shot until the final six minutes. Sometimes he’s too helpful, which is probably not an accurate description. For instance, Gant did a great job on screens in the paint to free up N’Diaye. He also did a nice job crashing the glass and could have had a few putbacks had he been able to control the offensive rebound. Gant still managed five rebounds.
— Wroten will learn from tonight’s performance. He struggled in many ways. At times he was too aggressive, which led to early fouls. He picked up his second and third fouls within seconds of each other. The latter came while attempting a steal with 11:56 remaining in the first half. Other times, Wroten rushed his shot in the paint against a smaller defender. He converted just 2 of 9 field goals and 3 of 7 from the line. Still he finished with seven points, four assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes. Wroten’s final play was a pass to N’Diaye that dribbled out of bounds for his fifth turnover. At the time Washington led 72-64 with 3:16 left. He was benched on next possession.
Desmond Simmons made the most of his 16 minutes and collected four rebounds. Still three turnovers is too much for a reserve big man.
Martin Breunig was much more active than he was in Saturday’s opener. Not sure why he didn’t play more, especially in the second half when he logged just two of his nine minutes. Breunig had five points on 2-for-2 shooting and three rebounds, including two on the offensive glass.
— Wroten’s early foul trouble may have led to Hikeem Stewart making an early appearance in the game. He contributed two minutes in the first half and ran the offense effectively.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, top 25


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