By Shannon Drayer
The Washington men’s basketball team saw its RPI soar for a second straight week after three straight wins on the road. Two weeks ago the Huskies ranked 95 in the rankings that take strength of schedule into consideration. Last week they jumped to 73 and after wins against Stanford and Cal on the road they come in at 58 this week.
The Huskies are off to a strong start (3-0) in the Pac-12, winning their first three on the road to start conference play for the first time since 1912. They join UCLA and Orgeon as the only teams undefeated in conference play.
Not surprisingly, the Huskies find a number of players on conference leaderboards. C.J. Wilcox is third in scoring with 19 points per game. He picked up Pac-12 player of the week honors after averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks this weekend against the Bay Area schools. Aziz N’Diaye is fifth in rebounding and Abdul Gaddy is fifth in assists.
Better understanding of the offense, more reps with players who missed time with injury, improved rebounding and defense are all elements to the Huskies’ recent success. Most impressively, the Huskies were able to shut down Allen Crabbe and Brock Motum, the two players ahead of Wilcox on the offensive leaderbaord.
It is hard to look at the last three games and not call it a complete turnaround. The fact that it came on the road is a huge bonus but only if they can bring that play home, where strangely enough the team has suffered its worst losses this season. The team lost to Seton Hall and Ohio State on the road but put up good efforts in both games. Tough to say the same about the home losses to Colorado State, Nevada and the near loss to Cal State Fullerton.
Are they too comfortable at home? Do they play with more of an edge and focus on the road? With momentum on their side and what looks to be a recommitment to defense they can put early season Bank of America woes behind them this week with a game against Colorado (11-5, 1-3) Wednesday and Utah (8-8, 0-4) Saturday.