Had a chance to talk with C.J. Wilcox (right) for a few minutes after Washington’s 75-67 win over Jackson State. He’s as baffled as everyone else about the Huskies’ inability to sustain success. He said the team was tired after Thursday’s draining win over Seattle University.
Coach Lorenzo Romar gave the team Saturday off sensing they needed a break. And the Huskies responded with a ragged start. On the first possession, they gave up three offensive rebounds.
In part to send a message, Romar benched Desmond Simmons at the 19:23 mark because he didn’t box out.
It wasn’t the first time Romar jumped on players for not doing their job. He also gave Hikeem Stewart a quick hook when he committed a silly turnover.
Despite the plea from the sideline for better focus, Washington led 13-11 with 14:00 left. Over the next six minutes, the Huskies played their best ball of the night. They held the Tigers to 1-for-7 shooting and forced four turnovers during a 16-2 run. Washington led 29-13 with 8:06 left and it looked as if a rout was forthcoming.
The Tigers had other plans, however. They needed five minutes and an 18-4 run to cut UW’s lead to two (33-31) once again.
Washington rebuilt another double-digit lead in the second half and led by 14 (51-37) with 16:03 left. But Jackson State slowly chipped away and came within three (70-67) with 5:24 remaining. The Tigers never scored again, but the Huskies didn’t breathe easy until Wilcox drained a jumper that put them ahead by seven with 1:51 left.
For some strange reason, Jackson State chose not to prolong the game with fouls, which made no sense considering Aziz N’Diaye was on the floor and he was 2 of 9 at the line. In fact, Washington was 12 of 26 on free throws. But the Tigers essentially played the final eight minutes without fouling.
Wilcox admitted Washington’s performance would have resulted in a loss against most teams. He said the Huskies (6-4) respected Jackson State, which fell to 0-8 and entered the game losing by an average of 24 points. Still, Wilcox was at a loss to explain why Washington played down to the level of its opponent.
“That type of stuff will get you beat later in the year,” he said.
A lot of the post-game chatter turned to backup guard Andrew Andrews, who missed his third game due to a sprained ankle. Many UW players expect the redshirt freshman will return Thursday against Cal Poly although there’s been no official word from the team.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Not the most efficient shooting exhibition from Wilcox who needed 19 shots to score 21 points. He missed 10 field goals and was 3 of 11 on three-pointers. He even missed his only free throw. But Wilcox was a stat stuffer tonight. He finished with four rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals to offset three turnovers. He also played 35 minutes. Wilcox’s best play was a block and diving out of bounds to save the ball. Interesting to note, he’s tied for the team lead with 13 blocks.
— Aside from the three turnovers, Scott Suggs quietly delivered a very nice outing. He scored 17 points on 5-for-10 shooting. He collected six rebounds. He delivered three assists. And he had two blocks in 32 minutes.
— N’Diaye needed a rebound to notch is fourth double double this season. He did his best work early when the Huskies were intent on establishing the big man. It’s a great idea to get him going early and then allow the shooters to find a rhythm later in the game. N’Diaye has to be aggressive in establishing position and demanding the ball. He could have scored way more than 12 points. It goes without saying that if he had hit a little more than half of his free throws, then he would have set a personal best scoring high.
— Uneven performance from Abdul Gaddy. He did a nice job scoring and finished with 12 poitns on 4-for-6 shooting. His only misses were open three-pointers. He was 4 of 6 at the line, including two misses in the final eight minutes. Gaddy did well on the glass (eight rebounds) and directing the offense early with four first-half assists. He also had four turnovers in the first half. And in the second half, he didn’t make much of an impact.
— The statistics don’t show it, but it was a dreadful night for Simmons. He just seemed unfocused. Still, the sophomore forward finished with nine rebounds, five points and four assists. A month ago that kind of performance from Simmons would have drawn compliments. But after his previous three games when he’s averaged 9.3 points and 11 rebounds, tonight’s game looks like a step back.
— The same might be said for Stewart. He scored six points Thursday, but was 0 for 2 tonight. However, he had three assists, which tied his personal best. This game may have been the last time he gets meaningful minutes if Andrews returns Thursday.
— If Shawn Kemp Jr. is Washington’s best low-post option, then it would be nice to see the big fella get a few more shots beneath the basket. Tonight he took two and made one. He was also 2 of 4 at the charity stripe for four points. Kemp also had three rebounds in 13 minutes.
— Jernard Jarreau is a good change-of-pace sub at the high post. Especially in the second half. He’s so much more different than Simmons because of his height and he’s long. It’s much easier for guards to get him the ball with lob passes. And he’s much more aggressive offensively offensively. Jarreau can also knock down the mid-range jumper. His challenge is learning how to make the most of limited minutes. And he should get his hands on more balls either with deflections, steals or rebounds. Jarreau had four points and three rebounds in eight minutes.
— Simmons’ off night created an opportunity for Martin Breunig who hadn’t played in three of the previous four games. He tallied four minutes, but otherwise didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Like Jarreau, he’s simply got to find a way to get noticed when he gets a chance.