Video credit: Pac-12 Networks
If there’s any bright spot from this disaster of a day for the Huskies it came in a tweet from Sacramento.
— darin johnson (@D_NASTYJFAM) November 14, 2012
So help is on the way. Trouble is, Darin Johnson won’t arrive until next season.
For now, Washington has to figure out what happened in its shocking 63-62 defeat to Albany. There’s going to be uncertain days in the near future filled with doubt and second-guessing. That’s what happens after these types of upsets.
When the Huskies lost at home 92-73 to South Dakota State last year few thought they’d win again and they won the next three games easily.
However, this time Washington enters the most difficult stretch of its non-conference season. The Huskies fly to Uncasville, Conn. Thursday for Saturday’s game against Seton Hall. Then UW plays either No. 4 Ohio State or Rhode Island.
No one seems to know the for certain the severity of Scott Suggs’ head injury. He left the game at the 18:22 mark after taking an elbow to the side of the head. A UW spokesperson said Suggs suffered a concussion. However, there were conflicting reports after the game.
At the very least, it would seem Suggs would be questionable for Saturday. After falling to the floor, he struggled to get to his feet and appeared woozy while walking off the court with trainers.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said Suggs’ absence isn’t an excuse, but Washington doesn’t have the depth to lose a starting fifth-year senior who scored 15 points in the opener. Without Suggs, the Huskies used primarily a seven-man rotation.
However, Romar is right when he said Washington’s trouble are bigger than the absence of one player.
Once again the Huskies got beat by an quick point guard from a smaller school, which is a problem that dates back to last season.
Starting with Saint Louis’ Kwamain Mitchell (18 points), Washington has repeatedly been torched by opposing guards including Nevada’s Deonte Burton (31 points), South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters (34) and Marquette’s Daris Odom-Johnson (23).
Tonight it was Mike Black (right) and Jacob Iati. Size doesn’t matter in basketball, but it needs to be noted that they are 6-0 and 5-10 respectively. And they scored 42 points for Albany. No one else had more than eight points or took more than six shots.
Good teams don’t let 1-2 guys beat them. Good teams figure out a way to take away or at least slow down the other team’s best player.
And yet, Iati – who is basically a standstill shooter – sank 6 of 12 three-pointers en route to 20 points in 39 minutes. He left the floor once.
As good as he was, Black was 10 times better. Albany’s offense in the final 10 minutes of the second half basically consisted of Black rubbing off picks and isolating either Aziz N’Diaye or Andrew Andrews in the open court.
Neither stood a chance of slowing him down and he repeatedly dove into the lane where he converted high-arcing layups. He finished with a game-high 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting. He also made 6 of 8 free throws.
Still good teams don’t allow the other team’s best player to take the last shot. Nursing a one-point lead with 7.6 seconds left, the Huskies changed their defensive approach to Black. They took N’Diaye off the floor and swapped in sophomore Hikeem Stewart. They had four guards – Wilcox, Stewart, Andrews and Abdul Gaddy – and forward Desmond Simmons on the floor. They wanted to switch on all screens and hoped the guards would have better success containing Black.
However, Albany never set a screen for Black. He simply rocked Wilcox to sleep with a right to left cross-over dribble that gave him a free path to the rim. Stewart came over late, but didn’t really contest the play and Black scored somewhat easily.
When asked after the game if he second guesses taking N’Diaye off the court, Romar said no.
Albany’s last basket is the most memorable play in the game, but that’s not the only reason why Washington lost. Inexplicably, the Huskies allowed the Great Danes to shoot 53.8 percent in the second half. They gave up easy baskets including a layup on an inbound-play with one second on the shot clock and a back-door cut for another layin.
And they lost an eight-point, second-half lead (48-40) because the offense went cold and the defense allowed a pair of undersized guards to get hot and stay hot.
It’s difficult to know how the Huskies will respond after this one. They are who they are. Gaddy and N’Diaye had one of their better games, but Washington needed more. Wilcox will have nights when his shot isn’t falling, which happens with shooters. It remains to be seen if Andrews and Simmons can mature quick enough to assume starring roles. At times the game appears too quick for redshirt freshman Jernard Jarreau, Martin Breunig and Stewart.
And in many ways, tonight’s tempo was surprisingly slow. Washington had just six fastbreak points. But then it’s difficult to press when four players are logging over 30 minutes and you have essentially a seven-man rotation.
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Mark Harrison
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— This might have been Gaddy’s breakout game. Think about it. N’Diaye missed two free throws in the final 21 seconds before Gaddy beats two defenders to collect the rebound and powers in a layup with 18 seconds to win the game. He did almost everything needed to carry Washington to a win. You can harp on the six turnovers, but more importantly Gaddy made big shots when needed, including a NBA-range three-pointer late in the game as the shot clock was expiring. He finished with 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting. He had five rebounds, three assists and two steals. It was a good performance game that might have been a great performance if the outcome was different.
— Another double-double outing for N’Diaye who had 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also had two blocks and played 30 minutes. Those are very good numbers for the big man. Still you have to wonder if Washington can play N’Diaye late in games. He missed two free throws in the last 21 seconds and Romar took him off the floor for the final defensive possession. N’Diaye missed seven of 10 free throws and committed four turnovers in a one-point defeat. That’s not good.
— These are the games that make you question if Wilcox is really a rising star or a streaky shooter. He missed 7 of 8 shots in the first half and never truly found the range. He finished with 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Despite the off night, Wilcox made a big basket with 1:41 remaining, a three-pointer that tied the game at 58-58.
Here’s how Wilcox explained his off night.
“I can’t make all the shots, but I definitely need to play better–especially on the defensive end,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to make every shot, so when they aren’t falling, there’s nothing you can do.”
Got to disagree there. When good shooters aren’t in a rhythm they find a way to get fouled and go to the line to get into a rhythm. And somebody on the team has to tell Wilcox to be more aggressive attacking the rim. In two games he’s played 67 minutes and has not attempted a free throw. That can’t happen. He’s arguably the best player on the team and he shoots 83.1 percent at the line. Wilcox has done a great job concentrating on rebounding this season – he had four tonight – but he still hasn’t learned how to get fouled and get to the line.
— Terrific night for Andrews, who played 36 minutes. You can nit-pick his game. He too aggressive defensively at times. He couldn’t contain Black. He missed 4 of 5 field goals and both three-pointers. But Andrews was a solid contributor in just his second game. He made 7 of 9 free throws. He scored nine points. He had a team-high four assists. He’ll get better. Unfortunately for him, he may not have the luxury of maturing at a slow pace.
— Simmons suffered a cut over his right eye and left the game for seven minutes. He played just six minutes in the first half and started the second half. Washington needed somebody to rebound other than N’Diaye and Simmons finished with six, twice as many as the season opener.
— Jarreau played 17 minutes, but just five in the second half. He finished with five pointns and four rebounds, which would normally be a nice outing for a redshirt freshman making his second start. But if the Huskies are going to survive the next 6-8 weeks without injured Shawn Kemp Jr., then Jarreau has to do more. He didn’t play the last 10 minutes, which indicates he’ll have to have to work to regain the trust of the coaching staff.
— Stewart was pressed into duty and played a career-high 12 minutes. He applies nice defense, but not to the point where he’s creating turnovers. Stewart attempted one shot, which appeared hurried and hit the side of the rim. He had two points.
— Despite being shorthanded, Breunig didn’t play in the second half, which tells you all you need to know about his three-rebound performance.
— As we said earlier, Suggs logged less than two minutes. His condition is unclear. It was a scary scene and as he looked like someone who will need a few days to recover.