The Washington Huskies needed some extra time to themselves after tonight’s 65-52 defeat to No. 23 Oregon to talk about how they managed to come up short in what they considered a must-win game.
Long after the loss, they remained in the locker room hashing and re-hashing how yet another seemingly close game slipped away. In reality, it wasn’t really that close. Washington led for just 18 seconds midway in the first half. They closed to within six points (46-40) with 8:34 left, but never got their deficit under 10 points in the final four minutes.
Still, the setback required a long discussion among the players.
“We were just talking to each other and making sure everybody is alright,” senior co-captain Abdul Gaddy said. “We just got a couple of guys that are upset. Me included. (Desmond Simmons) is upset. The whole team is upset. … We had to make sure we got each others’ back no matter what.”
After Tuesday’s players-only meeting resulted in season-low scoring output, you have to wonder if the message is getting through to the Huskies.
They converted 35 percent from the field, which is the third worst shooting performance this season. They missed 11 of 13 three-pointers. Oregon was abysmal from the free throw line while converting 13 of 23 (56.5 percent), but the Ducks made more FT than Washington attempted. The Huskies were 8 for 12.
If you’re as inept offensively as Washington was – at home no less – you’re not winning many games. And you’re probably not going to the NCAA tournament, which is something the Huskies have stopped talking about.
For now, they’ve got bigger problems like regaining their confidence.
“Right now this is a mental situation,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Our minds have to be right.
“Somehow without experiencing a whole lot of success, we have to regain our confidence. We have to regain our swagger as a team.”
Not sure how that happens with six games left in the regular season. It’s not as of Romar has many options. He’s been reluctant to say it, but Wilcox is mired in a seven-game shooting slump. Maybe it has something to do with his foot injury and maybe it doesn’t. Whatever the case, Romar doesn’t have many alternatives when Wilcox is struggling as he was tonight. He’s reluctant to bench the 6-5 guard believing “every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in.”
However, Wilcox missed 10 of 13 shots. And tonight was the first time in awhile he didn’t affect the game in other areas such as rebounding or steals.
When asked what’s wrong with the high-post offense, Romar chaffed. He believes the offense is working properly. It’s creating open looks for players such as Wilcox and Scott Suggs, who didn’t make shots. Suggs was 1 for 6.
When asked who played well, Romar singled out Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye and Simmons. Surprisingly, Simmons only played 21 minutes even though it was clear his energy and hustle was sorely needed.
Unlike Sunday’s defeat, UW turnovers didn’t decide the game. However, the Huskies forced just one turnover in second half.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— You could argue Gaddy was a one-man show. He finished with a career-high tying 17 points on 8-for-15 shooting. He had seven rebounds, which also tied his personal best. And he distributed five assists while committing just two turnovers. It was his fewest TOs in eight games. Gaddy got many of his points in the final minutes when the game was decided, but he delivered a quality performance. Perhaps his best of the season.
“We just didn’t get it done,” he said. “We just got to turn it around. I know it’s cliché and I know we keep saying it, but that’s what it is.
— Every 3-4 games, Simmons will remind you why he started the first half of the season. He’ll impact the game with enthusiasm and scrappy play. He gets into tussles for loose balls. He dives to the floor. He keeps possessions alive. He just always around the ball. And when he drops a three-pointer, well then that’s an added bonus. But when Simmons collects four rebounds – three on the offensive glass – throws his body around and plays hard-nosed defense, you wonder why he’s on the bench for half of the game.
— N’Diaye collected 11 rebounds making it the fifth straight game he’s had at least 10. The 7-foot center got the better of his matchups against Tony Woods and Oregon backup Waverly Austin. They combined for 10 points and eight rebounds. N’Diaye also had seven points. It would have been more, but he missed 3 of 4 free throws. Still, he blocked two shots and had a steal in 33 minutes.
—Can’t blame any gimmicky defense for Wilcox’s struggles. You can’t even blame a lack of aggression. He came out firing and UW was intent on getting him the ball early. He ran off screens and often slipped to the perimeter for open shots that didn’t fall. He missed his first six shots before scoring on a short jumper in the lane. Wilcox was 1 for 6 downtown and he had three turnovers in a team-high 34 minutes.
Romar on Wilcox: “You can start pressing when the ball doesn’t go in. I thought a couple of times tonight for the first time he may have shot the ball and not have great confidence. But again, he’s been such a good shooter for us for such a long time. I’ll say it every game, I just feel like the next shot he shoots is going in.”
— Since scoring a carer-high 20 points against Arizona State, Andrew Andrews has tallied 2, 7 and tonight he had two points on 1-for-8 shooting. Despite the scoring deficiency, the redshirt freshman guard grabbed seven rebounds, which ties a career best. At 6-2, Andrews had difficulty defending 6-6 E.J. Singler who beat him for a layup in the first half.
— Uneven performance for Shawn Kemp Jr. who finished with six points on 3-for-7 shooting. He played 21 minutes and had all four of his rebounds on the offensive end.
— In the last outing, Suggs scored all of his 16 points in the second half. Tonight he was 1 for 6 for four points, which tied his season low. Suggs did a nice job defensively on Singler and held him to nine points on 3-for-12 shooting. Singler had five rebounds and three assists.