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Husky Men's Basketball

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

December 10, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Without injured Aziz N’Diaye, UW relies on four-guard attack

terrence ross vs duke.jpg
Photo credit: Getty Images – Chris Trotman
No news on Aziz N’Diaye and no telling when he’ll return.
Washington’s 7-foot center sprained his knee early in the second half of Washington’s 86-80 defeat to No. 7 Duke today.
Without their defensive enforcer, the Huskies went into scramble mode. Coach Lorenzo Romar employed a four-guard lineup that pressed in the back court, trapped along the sidelines, frantically rotated defensively, double teamed in the post and fell back into an aggressive 2-3 zone.
If N’Diaye doesn’t make a speedy recovery, this could be the lineup Husky fans will see during a three-game homestand that begins Friday against UC Santa Barbara.
“It’s a different look,” junior guard Abdul Gaddy said. “We use it a little bit in practice, but not too much because it’s not like a great rebounding group.”
When N’Diaye lef the game 19:16 remaining, Romar kept 6-9 center/forward Shawn Kemp Jr. on the bench in the second half. The Huskies pushed 6-8 Darnell Gant and 6-7 Desmond Simmons in the middle of the zone.
At times the defense looked out of sorts because UW hasn’t used that particular lineup or played zone much in games or practice.
“It was different being the tallest guy on my team out there,” Simmons said. “That’s my first time ever playing in the middle of a 2-3 zone since I was in high school. It was just something I had to adjust to.”
The attack would be lethal if the Huskies had sharp-shooter Scott Suggs, who will redshirt this season.
Still, UW is able to flood the floor with C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross (above, right), Tony Wroten Jr. and Gaddy. That’s two shooters (Wilcox and Ross) and two ball handlers (Wroten and Gaddy).
The lineup spaces the floor and creates driving lanes to the basket. Wilcox attacked the basket in the second half more than he had all season and finished with 22 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Ross also drove strong into the lane for many of his 16 points.
Still it’s curious they combined for just one free throw.
No one on the team attacks the rim like Wroten who went to the line eight times and converted six. He finished with a game-high 23 points, including 10 during a 20-7 run when Washington cut its 19-point deficit (71-52) to six (78-72).
Gaddy also used his size to draw several fouls and attempted 3 of 5 free throws.
The small lineup helped the Huskies against Duke because they attacked either Miles Plumlee, a 6-10 forward, or Ryan Kelly, a 6-11 forward. It also allowed the guards to isolate their defenders either on the wings or at the top of the key and dribble past them for layups.
“In this particular it (helped),” Romar said. “I thought we were able to drive which ever guy was maybe the slower guy because they played with two big guys the entire time. We tried to take advantage of one of the big guys and try to drive him to the rim. With Terrence Ross out there, C.J. Wilcox and Abdul, they have to decide which of their defenders they’re going to put on our best perimeter guys.
“Then I thought (Wroten) recognized that and took advantage of that situation.”
While Washington did have success against Duke, it most be noted the Blue Devils were nursing a 19-point lead and playing a soft, prevent defense. It remains to be seen if the Huskies will get similar results against an opponent who has scouted that attack, practiced against it and comes into the game with a better plan than whatever Duke devised during a timeout.
Washington may have no choice other than to rely on the four-guard lineup going forward.
“If we use it, we have to make sure we rebound with that group and make sure we rebound and pressure,” Gaddy said. “I have to pick up full court and pressure. That’s the whole thing to that and keeping the energy with that group.
“It’s going to cause a lot of problems for defenses, but it also gives up a lot of size too in the middle. We’ll probably work on it in practice and see how it goes.”

— Wroten looked like the best player on the court today. He committed turnovers – five total. But all were in the first half. The Huskies can live with his mistakes because he was also the only one who didn’t appear intimidated early in the game and scored UW’s first six points while others were launching air balls.
Wroten was efficient while scoring a career-best 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting. He sank 6 of 8 shots at the line and drained an open three-pointers. Wroten also had five rebounds. Today he was in scoring mode and didn’t look to pass after the first-half turnovers, which explains why he failed to register an assist.
“I thought Wroten was great for them,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He broke us down and really early in the game. He had all of their points. … I’ve watched most of their games and I thought was Wroten’s best performance. He was terrific.”
— Admittedly Wilcox allowed himself to be overcome by the environment. He was off his game in the first half and missed five of eight shots and three of four three-pointers. Wilcox made an adjustment in the second half. The UW coaches told him Duke’s guard lacked quality lateral movement. Several times Wilcox froze defenders with a ball fake before driving to the rim for layups. I didn’t track his shots, but I imagine at least five of his seven second-half shots were at the basket. Wilcox finished with 22 points on 10-for-19 shooting in a game-high 37 minutes. He has a five-game streak without a free throw.
— Ross was also out of sync early. He missed a dunk that would have brought the house down. Like Wilcox, Ross became more aggressive in the second half where he scored 14 of his 16 points. Still he needed 17 shots and converted seven. He also had seven rebounds in 33 minutes.
— Gaddy could have had a bigger impact on the game, but he deferred and got the ball to the shooters. He could have bullied his way to the room much more. As it were he drew 4-5 fouls and was 3 of 5 at the line. Gaddy also did a nice job defensively and didn’t surrender many points on dribble drives. He finished with seven points and season-high tying seven assists. Before halftime it appeared as if Gaddy injured his right knee, but after the game said he was fine.
— Simmons played 32 minutes, which is 11 more than he’s ever played. That’s a big jump for the redshirt freshman. Simmons was pressed into duty partly because N’Diaye went down. He also received time on the court because he was active and productive. He had six rebounds, three assists and two points. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (0 for 3) and at times was overmatched defensively. But Simmons didn’t back down and likely earned himself more minutes in the future.
— Gant played 19 minutes before fouling out. He was fantastic on Tuesday, but had one of those games where you’re wondering where was that guy who was such a beast in the previous game. If Gant was locking down his man, you could understand why he finished with six points and four rebounds. However, Ryan Kelly had 16 points and eight rebounds. Huskies need a little more from the senior co-captain.
— Despite a few bobbles offensively, N’Diaye was on his way to a double-digit rebounding performance and maybe double digit scoring. He had five rebounds and four points before leaving due to injury.
Martin Breunig and Hikeem Stewart combined for two minutes. Stewart may receive more minutes in the near future if UW goes with a four-guard lineup.

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


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