The Huskies Turned a Corner! (Well, maybe)

Are the Huskies turning the corner?

When I was a young child many moons ago, I loved the movie Hercules. I could watch the movie for hours and hours, much to the chagrin of my parents, and continue to be captivated by the same plot without blinking an eye.

I find that this same thing is happening with me now, but I do not like the plot that keeps repeating. For the third year in a row, the Washington Husky basketball team has given me hope at the end of the season. Each year has given me a disappointing beginning and a torrid stretch at the end, and as a fan, it leaves me wondering how they will do come tournament time. Actually, I know that they will play better than expected in the Dance, but then tear my heart out by choking in the second half (West Virginia 2010, North Carolina 2011).

Of course, they have to make the tournament first. If they win their final three games (at USC, at UCLA and at Wazzu), I am pretty confident that they will punch their ticket to the dance, despite the quality of Pac-12 basketball being equal to a giant turd (The conference is 2-16 versus the RPI top 50 in non-conference play. Yes, that is less than ideal. But still more ideal than the ESPN Jeremy Lin mistake. You have to love blatant racism on national TV, right?…). Everyone can see that the Huskies have talent, but they vacillate from a 25 point drubbing at the hands of Oregon, to a 79-70 victory over Arizona. I present to you 6 things I have taken away from this past weekend as a Husky fan.

Pessimism (What? I am just being realistic. Don’t get mad at me!)

1. Lack of Assists

How can a team that averages 75.5 ppg (33rd in the nation) only average 13 apg (157th in the nation)? According to KenPom.com, the Huskies are 82nd in the country in offensive efficiency, and I guarantee that the lack of assists is part of the reason. As dynamic as Tony Wroten is, he often drives into the hole without any plan to pass at all, and his Assist to Turnover ratio exhibits this (.9, which means he averages more turnovers than assists. Nice.). Despite Gaddy’s sparkling 2.3 Assist to Turnover ratio, he disappears from big games (vs. St. Louis= 1-6 FG. vs. Marquette=2-11 FG, 2 assists, 2 turnovers. vs. Duke=crucial miscues down the stretch. vs. California=2 assists, 3 turnovers, Cobbs hits a key 3-pointer down the stretch). More assists=better team offense, and the Huskies simply are not doing that this year. The team played its best basketball last year when Isaiah took over the Point Guard spot and dished more dimes than anybody in the league. I applaud him for going to the NBA and succeeding, but the Dawgs surely miss him this year.

2. Lack of Post Offense

I do not have to do much analysis for this point. The fact is, Aziz has a hook shot and that is it. Gant is not a post player, and Simmons and Kemp Jr. are raw at best. Not to mention the fact that Aziz shoots 35 percent from the line, so getting the ball into him is almost a liability. You are not going to score on a breakaway every game, Aziz. Sigh.

3. CJ Wilcox injury

Wilcox made some huge 3’s down the stretch against Arizona, but he remains hampered by a hip injury that refuses to go away. A healthy CJ gives the Dawgs one of the best shooters in the country. If he remains hobbled, they merely have a shell of one of their best weapons. Granted, we have to give CJ credit for playing as well as he has, even with the hip injury. But if the Dawgs have any chance of making noise in the tournament they need CJ as healthy as possible.

Optimism (I believe in you guys! Come on team! Yeah, ok I will get on with the story now. Optimism can be annoying sometimes, eh?)

1. They played a full game!!

In the Huskies win versus Arizona, they played a complete game. They did not make us suffer through their usual 10 minutes of awful basketball. Of course, the basketball IQ of this team still leaves a lot to be desired (Luckily, Overton left this year. Basketball IQ on that boy was about 50 at best, and folks, that just ain’t good), the fact that the team beat a solid squad (and led the entire way) is a large improvement from the standpoint of every other game this season. Jerry Brewer, from the Seattle Times wrote a nice piece about this very fact in much more eloquent fashion, so feel free to read his article for a more in-depth read.

2. Terrence Ross

Need I say more? His name brings Husky fans great pride. One of the most talented players Romar has recruited, he has put the team on his back over the past month. His line for the past 3 games: 21.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 2.3 spg. That is decent I suppose. Not to mention the fact that he scored 14 of UW’s last 18 against UCLA to win the game. If Ross plays like this for the rest of the season, the Huskies have a guy who can compete with any player in the country.

3. Rebounding

The Huskies are 5th in the country in Rebounds per game at 40.3. This is normal for a Romar-coached team, and rebounding is a key component to winning basketball. After 18 offensive rebounds against Arizona, Dawg fans have to be confident that the Huskies can rebound their way to a victory if need be. Of course, they have to score too, but that is just a small part of the game, right?

Can they ‘Go the Distance’ (Yes, Hercules reference!)?

All in all, this Husky team has the talent to compete with almost anybody in the country. I am not saying they could beat Kentucky, Syracuse, Michigan State, Kansas, North Carolina etc. But I do think they have the talent to be one of the top 16 teams in the country. Either that, or they will lose their next three games and lose in the NIT. I hope for the former, and maybe I will be able to enjoy the Huskies like I once enjoyed Hercules years ago; enjoyment that gives me a desire to watch my team over and over again.

Last note: Congratulations to Darnell Gant, Tyreese Breshers and Brendan Scherrer. Gant has been an integral part to the team every year, and I will miss his defense and genuine Husky pride. Breshers is such a sad story. A medical condition forced him to retire after he blocked 26 shots during his Freshman year. It was nice to see him honored on Senior Day. Scherrer: you have been a fabulous victory cigar. We salute you.


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    • Joel Trousdale
    • February 21st, 2012

    My name is Joel Trousdale, and I thoroughly enjoyed the depth and breadth of your knowledge about basketball. I was wondering whether you follow college tennis, and what your opinions are if you do. Also I would to hear your opinion on the Portland Trailblazers and, perhaps even a perspective piece on the culture of the Trailblazers within the metro area.

    • Hey Joel, thanks for reading!
      Unfortunately, I do not follow college tennis. However, I love professional tennis and would not be surprised if I wrote something about the Grand Slams and the tremendous Trivalry in the Men’s game. I do love the tennis team at my college too, so I am a tennis fan.
      As a Seattle guy, I will never be able to like the Trailblazers, and I often make fun of them (especially Batum, even though he is pretty good) at school because there are so many fans here in Oregon. I do love the culture of Blazers basketball, but NBA and the Blazers will not be my focus.

  1. I know you may not want to join a rivals blog, but I really enjoyed this piece and would like to offer you the opportunity to write for the FanSided Network on the blog http://www.autzenzoo.com. It is about the Oregon Ducks, but I feel that your basketball knowledge will be a good addition to the site as a staff writer. For more information, please email me at autzenzoo@gmail.com.

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