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December 7, 2011 at 2:59 PM

UW assistant Jim Shaw on Tony Wroten Jr.: “His improvement is going to tie in tremendously to our ceiling”

Washington assistant Jim Shaw said Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox are playing at an all-Pac-12 level, but tabbed freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr. as the wild card who could improve the Huskies’ fortunes.
During an interview today with KJR radio host Dick Fain, Shaw covered many topics including the status of senior sharp-shooter Scott Suggs who is recovering from toe surgery.
It was believed UW’s co-captain would make his season debut Saturday against No. 7 Duke, but Shaw indicated Suggs will return next week.
Shaw also talked about the late-game mistakes that led to Tuesday’s 79-77 defeat to No. 11 Marquette and last week’s upset at Nevada.
— On Jae Crowder’s game-winning three-pointer: “Darnell (Gant) set up too deep in the lane and then when Crowder came down the lane, somehow he got too far behind him.
— On Abdul Gaddy’s turnover with 34 seconds: “Bad pass.”
— On Washington’s desperation shot as time expired: “(With) six seconds you’re hoping for a better shot than what we got.”
— On the late-game miscue at Nevada in which Wroten failed to commit an intentional foul: “We didn’t call timeout there and that’s a hard thing to do on the fly unless you really, really practiced it over and over and over again. So he ultimately was confused. And confusion always falls back on us as a coaching staff.”
— On Gaddy’s development: “We got to just get consistent quarterback play.”
Shaw said he’s working with Wroten to improve his free throw shooting and hopes to get the freshman into the 60 percent range during conference play. He’s shooting 47.7 percent at the line.
Shaw expects Wroten will improve his focus on defense and reduce his turnovers and when he does the Huskies will play at a higher level.
“He’s the individual that changes the ceiling of this team the most by far,” Shaw said. “Like if you say what’s our ceiling? How much can you expect this team to get better in 60 days? Watch his improvement because his improvement is going to tie in tremendously to our ceiling.
“If you look at our guys at what they are or what they’re becoming, they’re kind of what they are or what they’re becoming. Both. Dez (Desmond Simmons) is really carving out a niche for himself. He’s a good rebounder and an opportunity scorer. Darnell is a guy that’s a stretch four and when he’s hitting shots he’s going to look good and he defends pretty well. Aziz (N’Diaye) is a rebounding machine who intimidates. I still think there’s a role for Martin (Breunig) on this team, which will emerge. C.J. and Terrence are all-league guys. Abdul has his assets, but he also has his deficiencies.
“Tony is the wild card because Tony can be a completely different player a month from now than he is right now where everybody is kind of going to be the same player. I’m a big believer in Tony. As long as he progresses the way he’s capable that’s going to have a lot to do with how much better we get.”
Here’s the transcript of the interview.


(Washington has been snake-bitten by teams making big shots in the final seconds.) “Yeah you give them credit and you give Crowder credit. Obviously he made a big shot. It’s also impossible not to look at the fact we could of and should have done a better job of defensing it. Darnell needs to stay closer to him so he isn’t trying to push Desmond out there and they aren’t half stumbling around. He should have stayed right on his hip and forced him to put it on the floor and maybe he would have made a huge shot after three dribbles. Who knows?”
(So Gant wanted to switch instead of fighting around the screen?) “He got behind to start with. Crowder trailed the play. Darnell set up too deep in the lane and then when Crowder came down the lane, somehow he got too far behind him. And then in trying to catch back up he tried to push Dez out and neither one of them quite got there. The way that Crowder came down – starting at the top of the key to down to the net and out to the corner – (Gant) should have just stayed on his hip. If you’re guarding Crowder or (Darius Johnson-Odom) in that situation you need to be on red alert because it’s 95-plus percent one of them will take the shot. The only way they won’t is if you run a double at them and they kick it to someone else.”
(What happened on Gaddy’s turnover when he passed to Terrence Ross?) “I just think it was a bad pass.”
(Where is Gaddy in terms of his recovery from knee surgery and being the point guard at Washington?) “I think he’s made an amazing recovery from his knee surgery. I’ve never coached anyone that’s had to have surgery in January that was doing what he’s doing now. In terms of his recovery, is it 100 percent? It’s been less than a year. I don’t know. I’m not inside his knee. But in terms of the recovery he’s made and the job that he’s did and the job the medical team did I mean hats off. A plus, plus. It was still mid-January when he had the surgery so I think that’s phenomenal what they’ve been able to do and getting him back on the court and what he’s been able to do to get himself back on the court. How much is he impacted by not being able to play in a year and all of those types of things? Those are just types of questions that are hard for me to answer. I think how he played I can view that more objectively.
“How he played? I thought that he did some good things in terms of not turning the ball over until it counted the most. But then I thought he had turnovers at really crucial times and missed a couple of layups that you have to finish. That’s a big challenge. It’s the hardest position to play. It’s an area where we got to really grow if we’re going to grow and improve as a team. The play that we’re getting out of Ross and Wilcox – I know it’s only seven games in – but if they don’t look like two All-Pac-(12) players I’m not sure there is an all-Pac-(12) players. And our front court is starting to find its way. Aziz is becoming a rebounding intimidator. Whatever offense we get out of him is a bonus and that’s OK. Darnell is kind of a finesse, stretch four man and if he keeps making shots we’ll let him be a finesse, stretch four man because he’s valuable. He stretches defenses out. He’s reading when to pop out. Desmond Simmons is carving a niche for himself as kind of a tough guy coming off the bench. I think over time we’ll kind of experiment a little bit with Shawn Kemp and Martin, I think one of those two guys will emerge as more of a consistent other front court piece. So things are falling in. Now we got to just get consistent quarterback play.”
(What happened on the last play and why not call timeout?) “In terms of what you hope for there you got 6.2 or 6.3 seconds to go so generally you should be able to get the ball down the floor in four seconds. So you got two seconds left essentially to get a shot up. If you got a guy who gets up super fast you might be able to pull up and just shoot right away and give yourself a chance for a tip as well. But (with) six seconds you’re hoping for a better shot than what we got. You’re hoping for a quality shot. Our best option for getting a quality shot is probably to get our head up and try to get it into Terrance’s hands as soon as possible. Our second best chance at a quality shot is to probably try to get it into C.J.’s hands as quick as possible in that order. I think that whole play started backwards with Abdul taking the ball out of bounds, which he shouldn’t be doing. That’s going to kill a second because if somebody else takes it out he can catch it on the run.
“The advantage and disadvantage of the timeout? The advantages are the defense gets to regroup. The advantage the other way is you can become a little more organized. I think that’s just a feel thing. If you feel your team is going to be well organized, it’s probably an advantage to let them play. If you feel they’re going to be somewhat disorganized or somewhat unsure, then it’s probably best to take a timeout. I think with the timeout, the biggest thing is the two Ws. Why am I taking this timeout? And what am I hoping to accomplish? And if you can answer both of those in a positive way, it’s probably not a bad time to take it. But if you think that it’s not the right situation based on those two questions, then you’re probably best to let them play.”
(Did the end-of-game philosophy shift in regards to giving an intentional foul when you have the lead?) “Backing up all the way to the UConn game when they made the three to send it into overtime. After that the next we got a situation with under five seconds and up three, we fouled them. Washington State in the Pac-10 Tournament Suggs fouled Klay Thomnpson. They went to the line and the rest is history. We won the game. We were attempting to communicate the same thing. In fairness to Tony, we didn’t call timeout there and that’s a hard thing to do on the fly unless you really, really practiced it over and over and over again. So he ultimately was confused. And confusion always falls back on us. If you say who’s responsible for confusion, I think confusion will always fall back on us as a coaching staff. We can take the responsibility of that.
“Last night I thought was different than the Nevada game in that I thought we played much better. I thought we played much more purposeful. I thought we raised the bar with how hard we played. Yeah Gant got beat and there were things we could have done to prevent it, but also give Marquette credit because even though we had a break down they still had to make a fairly hard shot. With Nevada in my opinion was totally different because I think we gave the game away. Last night I didn’t feel that was the case. … At the end of the day, we went ahead. And even though it wasn’t defended perfectly, a guy made a pretty good shot.”
(What about Wroten?) “Tony is a really good player. He can make things happen and he’s kind of a play maker. More than a position player, he’s just a play maker when he’s out there. But he’s also a freshman so you just have to keep chipping away at little things. At the defensive end of the floor, you got to keep chipping away at getting him to concentrate and focus because if he learns to concentrate and focus at all times on defense, he’ll not only lead our team but he’ll be one of the leading steals guys in the conference because he’s a play maker. When the ball is around him, he can instinctively make plays. He just has to become a little more focused and a little more disciplined when possessions get a little longer, when the other team has it and when his man doesn’t have the ball. Just various things. But he’s making progress there.
“He’s a heckuva rebounder. Again I keep repeating myself he’s a play maker. So whenever the ball is around him, he’s capable of doing something. And then at the offensive end, we’re making progress with the free throw shooting. I’m starting to work with him one on on. When he we started he was in the 20 (percent range). It was early and was like 28 or 29. Now we’re up to 45. Our goal is to get above 50 by the time we start conference and for him to shoot 60 in conference. It’s going to be measuring progress and not shooting for perfection and knowing mistakes are going to come. But the type of mistakes he make are things you want to see maturity in. You want to see turnovers when they happen where he’s just trying to make the right play and it doesn’t work rather than trying to make a 300-mph, no-look pass to somebody and it hits them in the shoulder. So it’s the type of mistakes where you’re looking for progress.
“Tony is getting better and really when you look at our team in my opinion he’s the individual that changes the ceiling of this team the most by far. Like if you say what’s our ceiling? How much can you expect this team to get better in 60 days? Watch his improvement because his improvement is going to tie in tremendously to our ceiling. If you look at our guys at what they are or what they’re becoming, they’re kind of what they are or what they’re becoming. Both. Dez is really carving out a niche for himself. He’s a good rebounder and an opportunity scorer. Darnell is a guy that’s a stretch four and when he’s hitting shots he’s going to look good and he defends pretty well. Aziz is a rebounding machine who intimidates. I still think there’s a role for Martin on this team, which will emerge. C.J. and Terrence are all-league guys. Abdul has his assets, but he also has his deficiencies. Tony is the wild card because Tony can be a completely different player a month from now than he is right now where everybody is kind of going to be the same player. I’m a big believer in Tony. As long as he progresses the way he’s capable that’s going to have a lot to do with how much better we get.”
(If Washington plays the way it did Tuesday and Duke struggles like it did in its loss to Ohio State, fair to say the Huskies can pull off the upset?) “I have not seen Duke as much. I’ve watched them on TV like everybody. … I’ve historically have followed their program because I’ve always used them as the measuring stick of the best. To me their the best and there’s so many things about them that make them that starting right at the top. I’ve always been impressed with every single year when you change teams or you change players there’s never a drop off with their enthusiasm and their energy. I think coach (Mike) Krzyzewski deserves credit for that because you always see him jumping up and down over there and he’s 64 years old. They really are the pinnacle of college basketball. Having an opportunity to compete against them is certainly one that you cherish and you remember forever. I think when you go into those situations your whole objective is to make sure they remember competing against you too.
“For us to have a chance to be successful … I had the Marquette scout so I watched a gazillion Marquette and I thought there were some things we could do to offset their strengths and give ourselves a chance to have success. I haven’t watched Duke in that much detail, but I do know if you took last night’s script and you took away 4-6 turnovers and evened out the free throw line a little bit. The only reason that isn’t a bigger concern in my mind is I thought our players got, I thought Marquette got a really, really, really, really pro whistle. I’m not going to put that on our player’s back and say we made silly fouls. I just thought they got a break that way and I didn’t think we could control that or deserved it. So the biggest thing is if we were to rewrite the script and play Saturday would be to do a lot of the same things we did last night, but still knock off about four of those turnovers.”
(Will Suggs play Saturday?) “I’m not sure. I think the plan all along would be next week would be the decision week there.”

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs

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