A week after Washington slugged it out with San Diego State in a game that produced 85 points combined, the Huskies nearly equaled that tally themselves in a high-scoring affair with Eastern Washington. You knew this game was going to be different than the Aztecs win. For starters, Eastern Washington brought an offense that was…More
Category: Washington recap
Here’s a three quick impressions following Washington’s 77-59 nonconference win over South Carolina State in Friday’s regular-season opener at Alaska Airlines Arena. CAN ANYBODY SHOOT? — If Washington doesn’t improve it’s perimeter shooting, it’s going to be a long season. For the second straight postgame press conference coach Lorenzo Romar tried to convince everyone that…More
Here’s three quick impressions after Washington’s 88-65 exhibition win over Division II Saint Martin’s. Defensively the Huskies look better: Coach Lorenzo Romar talked a lot before the game about playing the type of defense where Washington can impose its will on opponents. That’s something that’s been missing the past two seasons. It’s difficult to know…More
IMG_0864 Here’s video of coach Lorenzo Romar after Washington’s 88-65 exhibition win over Division II Saint Martin’s.More
Ready or not, Washington begins Pac-12 play Thursday at Arizona State.
While some may consider Sunday’s 73-67 win over Hartford – in which the Huskies trailed in the final three minutes – another reason for concern, coach Lorenzo Romar praised the team’s focus.
“Hartford took the lead, the game was back and forth,” he said. “We didn’t put our heads down. We stayed the course. If we can do that same thing when we go on the road and then make shots on top of it, I feel good about our team.”
Romar also commended the Huskies’ ball handling. They entered the game committing at least 10 turnovers in each of the previous six games, including 16 in their last outing. On Sunday, Washington had a season-low seven.
“Two things that had been bothering me and tonight I thought we got an A,” Romar said. “We maintained our focus for 40 minutes and we turned the ball over seven times, which is a season low. We had been turning the ball over too much after taking very good care of the basketball in the beginning of the year and we went back to taking care of it tonight so I would say we’re much further along now.”
The Huskies also did an amazing job at the free throw line where they were 26 of 30. Washington leads the Pac-12 with a 77.4 percent free-throw shooting percentage.
Still there were areas of concern.
For starters, the Huskies have to ask themselves how in the world did Hartford hang in the game for so long?
The Hawks (5-9) looked as if they would capture the upset and their biggest win of the season when they led 65-63 with 2:32 remaining.
From there, the Huskies outscored them 10-2. C.J. Wilcox buried a long jumper to tie the score 65-65. After Nate Sikma missed a shot, Nigel Williams-Goss collected the rebound. He dribbled quickly down the court, staggered off a screen and didn’t hesitate to release a mid-range jumper that put UW up for good.
Andrews, Wilcox and Desmond Simmons each hit a pair of free throws down the stretch to cap the scoring for the Huskies.
The Huskies are 3-0 in games decided by six points or less. Those wins came against seemingly overmatched opponents (Montana, Long Beach State and Hartford). And this doesn’t take into account UW has lost every game by seven or more points.
Still, the Huskies believe their narrow wins will help them during the Pac-12 season.
“It depends on the way you look at it,” Wilcox said. “We look at it as we played close games so if we end up in another one, we know how to handle ourselves.”
Even though Hartford scored just 67 points, Washington still has problems defensively. The Hawks converted 55.8 percent from the field, including 9 of 18 on three-pointers.
For the second straight year, Washington enters conference play at 8-5. In 2011-12 they rebounded from a sluggish start, won the regular-season conference crown with a 14-4 record and finished 24-11. Last season’s non-conference performances were a barometer of the league play as Washington tied for sixth in the Pac-12 at 9-9 and bottomed out at 18-16 overall.
“We still have room to grow,” Wilcox said. “Guys that haven’t been here are going to find out what it’s like playing in our conference, but I think we will have a really good learning curve. After a couple of league games, to see how we have to play, once we get that I think we will be better in playing to our potential.”
In each of its first four games, Washington faces teams with double-digit wins, including No. 1-ranked Arizona (13-0) and No. 21 Colorado (11-2). The others include: ASU (11-2) and Utah (11-1).
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:More
Lorenzo Romar is probably never going to deliver a rant as outrageous as Southern Illinois’ Barry Hinson, who mercilessly ripped and ridiculed his team following a disappointing defeat.
However, Sunday’s post-game press conference following Washington’s 82-70 defeat to No. 10 Connecticut was particularly enlightening.
Romar questioned whether he’s assembled a team of players that’s mentally strong enough to endure the rigors of a basketball season filled with injuries and defections and basketball games filled with runs and momentum swings.
He blamed many of Washington’s 16 turnovers on its negligence.
He questioned the team’s effort, but later said he meant to use the word focus.
And several times he cited a lack of maturity for the team’s defensive problems.
“We have to grow up and understand the importance of very possession and value every possession,” Romar said. “Right now we don’t seem to understand that. You can’t take a play off here or there because it may lead to a run from the other team.”
Washington is 6-5 heading into the holiday break. The Huskies get a few days off before returning for practice Christmas night in preparation for Friday’s game against Mississippi Valley. They finish the non-conference season next Sunday against Hartford. The Pac-12 opener is Jan. 2 at Arizona State.
Romar admits, the Huskies aren’t ready for the Pac-12.
“Right now we are not mature enough to handle runs from the other team it appears,” he said. “We’re not mature enough to handle the adversity that comes along throughout your season. Conference season starts here pretty quickly – we’re on the road four out of the first six games – so we better grow up pretty quickly.”
Not sure if wins against 3-7 Mississippi Valley and 5-8 Hartford is really going to improve the Huskies’ confidence or harden a defense that allows opponents to shoot 49.8 percent from the field and surrenders 80.3 points per game.
Add a new problem to Washington’s list of concerns: turnovers.
In the past four games, the Huskies have committed 16 (San Diego State), 13 (Idaho State), 18 (Tulane) and 16 (UConn) turnovers.
“This has been a re-occurring issue in the last four games,” Romar said. “We were averaging 9 turnovers a game before these last four and whether it was against Tulane, Idaho State, San Diego State or UConn, it’s kind of been the same issue. That bit us in the butt in this game.”
Another troubling trend: Washington plays in spurts against the good teams.
After poor first halves, UW trailed Indiana 52-47 and led Boston College 44-43 in the second half. Against San Diego State, Washington led 30-21 at halftime and fell apart 49-33 after the break.
On Sunday, it was another fantastic start (31-14) followed by a disastrous finish to the first half and a 29-8 UConn run. Connecticut led 43-39 at halftime.In the second half, UW fell behind by double digits after with 12:34 remaining trailed by as much as 14 (62-48). Washington never got any closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“I thought we played excellent basketball for about 12 minutes in the first half,” Romar said. “But the game is 40 minutes, not
Washington entered the game allowing opponents to shoot 49.3 percent from the field, but UW forced UConn to miss 6 of its first 17 (35.3 percent) shots. At halftime, Connecticut was shooting 51.6 percent from the field and finished shooting 54.9 percent.
Considering UConn struggled in the second half (5 for 31 and 0 for 12 on three-pointers) in Wednesday’s 53-51 loss against Stanford’s 2-3 zone, it’s surprising Romar didn’t use a zone more often.
“One time we did it they got a dunk,” Romar said. “I think we did it another time. … They were shooting in the 20s at some point in the game. Why go zone? Then they started to score. We went zone a little bit and it didn’t work out.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:More
[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”2962350826001″/] Washington players Andrew Andrews, C.J. Wilcox and Desmond Simmons met the media after Washington’s 82-70 loss to No. 10 Connecticut.More
Not sure the Huskies knew what they really had in Mike Anderson when he signed this summer. Former assistant Jim Shaw found him at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri, which has produced a handful of NBA players including Mitch Richmond and Gerald Wilkins.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said the Huskies expected Anderson was going to be a playmaker, but he didn’t think Anderson would produce a 19-point, 16-rebound performance in his seventh game to lead Washington to a 92-89 double overtime victory over Long Beach State.
“We just expected Mike to be a jack of all trades,” Romar said. “I wouldn’t have told you he’d go out and get 19 and 16 in a game this early. Junior-college kids a lot of time take a little longer to do that. But he’s been rebounding like crazy. He just gave an Herculean effort for us tonight. And that’s something he did in junior college. He just helped wherever needed.
“He’s playing out of position … and he’s a guy that’s not saying ‘Man you’re messing me up for the league. I’m not a four.’ Mike just wants to play basketball and compete. And it’s something how those guys a lot of times end up coming out on top.”
Anderson played 45 out of a possible 50 minutes. He converted 9 of 12 free throws. He had six offensive rebounds, three steals and a huge steal in the first overtime. Anderson also did a valiant job defending against 6-7 and 220-pound forward David Samuels who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
When the Huskies were desperate to find someone to replace injured forward Jernard Jarreau in the starting lineup, Anderson, a 6-4 wing, emerged and Washington adopted a four-guard lineup. He entered Saturday’s game averaging 7.0 rebounds, which is second on the team.
Romar admitted he’s just trying to scratch and claw through the early part of the non-conference schedule until Desmond Simmons returns Dec. 29 for the Hartford game and until younger players such as reserve big man Gilles Dierickx gains more experience.
Until then, the Huskies (4-3) have to grind out nail-biters like Saturday’s game that probably should have been an easier win considering Long Beach State (1-7) has lost seven straight games and is one of the worst scoring teams in the nation.
Romar also admitted he’s concerned about UW’s porous defense, which allowed the 49ers to shoot 58.6 percent from the field in the first half and 54.5 percent in the second. He knows that’s not going to cut it when Washington plays good teams like San Diego State on Dec. 8.
“We kind of have to do it with smoke and mirrors until we get Desmond back and until other guys are more experienced and until as a group we understand what we’re trying to do,” Romar said.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:More
Can it last?
That’s the question Washington must answer after once again relying on a small lineup featuring four and five guards to chase down the Eastern Washington Eagles and sprint to a 92-80 win Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Huskies depart this week for New York’s Madison Square Garden where the stage is bigger and the competition is tougher than it has been so far.
Washington plays Indiana (4-0) on Thursday in the 2K Sports Classic semifinals. This isn’t the same Hoosier team that posted a 29-4 record last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16. That team was led by a pair of first-round NBA draft picks in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. Indiana doesn’t have the star power it once did. IU relies on an ensemble cast in which five players average 10 points, including its trio of starting forwards.
Just three games into the season, the Huskies have gotten a lot of miles out of the small lineup, which has essentially replaced the high post offense. When UW floods the floor with five guards, its as if the Huskies have reverted to their old motion offense that relied so heavily on dribble penetration and kick-out passes for three-pointers on the wings.
The Lilliputian lineup was no match against 7-6 UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye, but it helped the Huskies recover from double-digit deficits against in-state rivals Seattle University and Eastern Washington.
“We ran out of gas,” EWU coach Jim Hayford said. “Coach Romar said, ‘We’re going to go with five guards and get into them.’ That dialed up the pressure and we didn’t have an answer.”
Trailing 64-53 with 13:22 left, freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss took over and scored nine of his team-high 22 points during Washington’s decisive 22-6 run.
He capped the spurt with a dribble drive layup over 6-7 Eastern forward Venky Jois despite being fouled. Williams-Goss sank the ensuing free throw, which gave UW a 75-70 lead with 7:38 left.
There’s a lot to like about the Huskies (2-1).
— They’re an excellent free-throw shooting team that’s converted 78 percent of its attempts, including a 31-for-34 performance on Sunday. They were 33 for 41 against Seattle U.
— They have an established star in C.J. Wilcox and a strong supporting cast in which four players (Williams-Goss, Perris Blackwell, Andrew Andrews and Darin Johnson) have scored at least 16 points in a game.
— The Huskies have rebounding (Mike Anderson) and scoring (Johnson) options on the bench.
— And Washington has just 10 or fewer turnovers in every game.
On the other hand, the Huskies are still very much a work in progress.
— Their perimeter defense still has difficulty containing quick guards like EWU’s Tyler Harvey, who scored 28 points.
— Down two injured forwards, UW is going with Blackwell and Shawn Kemp Jr. on the front line. They’re the only big men in the rotation and Kemp has scored just three points in the past two games.
— With a guard at the high post, the offense doesn’t work the same.
— And yet Romar noted the most troubling aspects with the Huskies is the team’s inconsistent performances, which includes several minutes when the team plays without a sense of urgency.
“When we’ve put forth the effort, we’ve done a decent job,” Romar said. “When we haven’t, we’ve looked putrid. That’s something you can control – your effort. Our guys recognize that.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:More
Washington should learn Monday just much time redshirt sophomore forward Jernard Jarreau will miss after injuring his right knee in Sunday’s 88-78 season-opening win over Seattle University.
He went down in a heap with 18:25 remaining and didn’t return. It wasn’t pretty. After picking SU’s Isiah Umipig clean in the open court for a steal, Jarreau raced ahead for a layup. With Umipig providing tight defense, Jarreau stumbled as he left the floor. He pounded his fist on the floor and shouted: “It’s broken.”
With reserve center Robert Upshaw and UW trainer Pat Jenkins supporting him, Jarreau limped off the court.
During the postgame interview, coach Lorenzo Romar offered little in terms of a timetable on Jarreau’s return or how the Huskies will proceed before Thursday’s game against UC-Irvine presumably without the 6-10 power forward.
Senior forward Perris Blackwell, who missed the season opener due to a concussion suffered in last Wednesday’s exhibition, is expected to return. But it remains to be seen if UW pairs him with Shawn Kemp Jr., who started Sunday, or if Romar uses a four-guard lineup that included Mike Anderson.
Keep in mind, the Huskies are also missing junior forward Desmond Simmons (knee), who isn’t expected to return until mid-December at the earliest.
I asked Romar about the front court depth and he said: “You asked me when Desmond got hurt if we were thin in the rotation. I said if no one gets hurt. Well, now we’re slim up there. But if our guys can go compete and scrap like we did tonight, then we’ll be able to get through it.”
Considering the injuries, Romar said Sunday’s win was “one of the more special wins for me as head coach since I’ve been here.”
Seattle University coach Cameron Dollar made several fascinating in-game decisions such as frequently switching between a 3-2 zone and man-to-man defense, which confused the Huskies midway in the first half.
However, Romar made the most important coaching move weeks ago when he made referees a fixture at practice. The Huskies did a much better job adapting to how officials will call games this season. While the Redhawks committed 29 fouls that pushed Dollar into a running dialogue with the referees, Romar remained mostly silent and UW enjoyed a huge free throw disparity.
The Huskies converted 33 of 41 free throws and the Redhawks were 11 of 19 at the line. Washington scored 46 points in the second half and 24 came at the charity stripe.
Otherwise, the game was statistical standstill. Washington had more assists (14-9), but SU did a better job on the glass (41-37 rebounds). The Huskies led 14-7 in fast break points, but the Redhawks led 19-11 in second-chance points. UW forced more turnovers (13-9) and led 18-12 in points off of turnovers, but SU dominated 44-30 in points in the paint.
The Redhawks also shot better from the field (44.8 percent to 41.0) and on three-pointers (33.3 to 25.0).
The difference in the outcome – free throws and the Huskies ability to withstand the loss of two starters.
“What makes this one special is we were out there many times and were playing just on scrap, sheer will and determination,” Romar said. “Those are the wins that you love.”
Here’s the box score.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:More