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College Hoops

Washington Husky Huddle for Sunday February 19th 2012 (Part Two)

Oregon embarrassed the Huskies 82-57 in every way you can possibly imagine, including a 4-12 outing from the field from Ross which yielded only eight points. Consistency is really the only argument that UW fans can point to when they argue
that Terrence should stay “one more year”. Other than that though, in these past four games, Terrence has been on the mark. Wroten also, other than the Oregon game, has been a player that just continues to get better week after week. Romar
spoke to the media and admitted his teams complete failure at Matt Court.

“They just beat us in every way. I didn’t see us falling flat on our face and doing such a poor job executing.”

There was no positive outcome against the Ducks. The Dawgs were 45-minutes late for the game because of traffic, but that is no excuse and both Wroten and Romar pointed that out after the game. The Huskies were out rebounded, outscored, out hustled, and couldn’t find the bottom of the rim if their lives depended on it. The Huskies shot 36% from the field, 12% from the three point line and 38% from the FT line. All but five of the free throw attempts were from Wroten who only hit 6-13 attempts.

When it came to rebounding the teams were about even, 39-38 Oregon, but in nearly every other respect the Ducks dominated UW. Senior guard Devoe Joseph had a great game for Oregon, after being hog-tied in Seattle and was the one who got things going. After Joseph started hot with nine of his 13 points by halftime, there was no looking back.

Washington looked lost out on the court having no answer for what Oregon was throwing their way from multiple directions. There was no second half Ross takeover show this time, as had been the case in a number of exciting UW come back wins earlier in conference play. The Dawgs were tamed as the Ducks did whatever they pleased on the court.

In first place at 9-2, but With 5-7 of the Huskies games on the road, starting in Eugene, this was one of the biggest tests of the season for UW, but they clearly weren’t ready for it. UW had to step up during this stretch to close out conference or basically forget about the NCAA’s, with such a weak Pac-12 and lack of success in non-conference play.

Although Wroten had six turnovers, he was the only one getting to the rim against Oregon. Simmons was really the only overall positive for the Dawgs with a very active game down low and had a nice box score for him with seven points, eight
boards and a steal in 21 minutes. That is not much to brag about for a whole team.

Gaddy and Wilcox had tough nights with a combined 5-18 from the field, one assist and three TO’s. Gaddy continued to egg on the naysayers by not scoring on a consistent basis, but against the Ducks he couldn’t even control the team. He dealt one assist in 36 minutes of PT. Aziz was no threat in the paint and Darnell wasn’t anywhere to be found.

N’Diaye logged six points and four rebounds in 21 minutes and Gant had only four and two in 20. Overall this was probably the worst game of the conference season for the Huskies, which was vexing after such a good showing on New Year’s Eve in Seattle WA against the Ducks and a five game win streak. Vegas odds makers made it a pick-em game and most thought it would’ve been a contested game, not a blowout.

Ross and Wroten weren’t the only ones against Oregon, as from the beginning to the end the Dawgs as a team had no answer for the Ducks. It may have been a blessing that the team failed as a unit, because during the next three games they seem to have succeeded as a group. A lot of it could have been mental, as in the back of every Husky fan’s mind (and at Hec Ed every Duck fan), the possibility of getting beat is very likely, regardless to what year it is. This is also true of road
games at WSU, like the one UW must face this Saturday at 3 p.m. (PST).

The Huskies have had trouble winning in front of the Oregon “Pit Crew” for years and this years model was no different. It appeared though to be a game that could either set the Huskies back or make them a stronger team. After three straight
wins, including the 75-72 bare knuckle scrap-fest against Oregon State on Sunday, I think it has been the latter.

After a game where the Huskies lost in every statistical battle against the Ducks, they had to come together as a team against OSU. It was an ugly game offensively for both teams, but UW ground it out and more importantly on the road. UW shot a season low 35% from the floor, but out boarded the Beavs 47-41 and more importantly made only 11 TO’s against a pressure defense that is among the nations leaders in forced turnovers, steals, etc.

Though it was not his best game, Wilcox got it going enough to eek out the win, with 17 points off the bench. UW’s out scored OSU’s bench 24-7. Ross was again a late bloomer, with 12 of his team leading 21 points after the break and he even
attempted to explain the trend as a product of conditioning, when he spoke to the media after the game.

“I feel my endurance is key. Too many players aren’t in shape.”

Like Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, in the 1970 classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want (but if you try some time, you get what you need)”, UW didn’t get the sweep in Oregon that could have catapulted them into the national spotlight and cemented then in first place in the Pac-12, but they got the split that they needed to keep a toe hold on the prize.

That is how championships are won and programs are built. It isn’t always spectacular, but it always requires inner strength and the Huskies showed that in the final stages of the gut it out game against a surly group of orange and black
clad hopefuls in Corvallis OR.

On Thursday in Seattle, the Dawgs came out much better prepared, as they rolled to a 44-26 half-time score over ASU. The Sun Devils are a team that is undermanned this season and in the first half UW played well enough to really rub it in. In the 2nd half it seemed as if UW was not interested and after the game Gaddy even admitted it to the media.

“We played well the first half, we played bad in the second half. It’s simple really. We just got bored with success and tried to get the game over with.”

Against some teams that can be a fatal mistake, but the Dawgs were able to maintain their decline enough to get a much closer sounding than it was eight point win. Gohuskies.com did a full game story with quotes and video of the press
conference, if you really want to know more, but essentially it was the home crowd needing action that was all that motivated UW after the break.

The Youtube clip gives UW fans an idea as to the onslaught that ASU had to take on, with all of the usual Husky suspects pounding the Sun Devils down early and toying with them every time they felt like it the rest of the way. It wasn’t a great way warm up for the big match-up with ‘Zona, with the sloppy play and all. UW ended up with 15 TO’s, but it seemed worse.

Everyone on the bench got a chance to show their stuff and that also contributed mightily to the final margin. Stewart and Breunig probably stood out the most, as the two got some nice PT. The fun and games were over though, as UW entered
the ‘Zona game on Saturday. With the ‘Cats on a five game winning streak and only a game behind the Dawgs and Cal in first.

But the Dawgs stood up to the challenge and got an important win. With the Cal win over OSU on Saturday, the Huskies are still tied with the Bears for first, but the Bears have that solid tie-breaker, with the win over UW in the two teams’
only meeting this season in Seattle.

With the Buffs road win at Utah on Saturday, Colorado is one game out at 10-4. The ‘Cats are now 10-5 and two games back, Oregon joined them with a road win at Stanford on Sunday and Stanford joined UCLA at three games back with the loss.

Next week the complexion of the race could change, if Colorado or Utah were to be able to knock off the Bears, as the Bay Area schools visit the Rocky Mountains. It could also severely damage Washington’s new found position, should they lose to the Cougs in Pullman WA this Saturday at 5PM.

The ‘Zona game was a real festive occasion, with dramatics all over the place. Gohuskies.com again did a very good job of providing the game story, with the post game interviews. The YouTube highlights not only included N’Diaye’s coast to coast flush, but an incredible dunk from Wroten in former prize UW recruit Angelo Chol’s face. Tony talked about it after the game to the media.

“It was just funny because it was Chol. He wanted to come here and he didn’t and I got him.”

All of the bubble talk has the Dawgs precariously nearly in or nearly out. The win over ‘Zona helps, but it would be foolish for the Dawgs to think that their work is winding down. Though the various teams that have beaten UW (even the South Dakota State Jackrabbits) are contending for NCAA bids, that doesn’t change the fact that UW has not beaten anyone with a good chance of getting in, except in the down trodden Pac-12.

In the last three games UW must perform on the road, something it has had problems with this year, though as the year has moved on the team has improved in that area. WSU did beat Cal 77-75 earlier in the year and UW fans can bet that the Coug Nation will put 100% focus on this game.

Both that game and the last game of the season against UCLA will define UW’s season and wins, regardless to what the national media says, will require high level efforts. USC will not likely be a difficult game, though in Seattle the effort put across by the undermanned Trojans was admirable. If UW loses both the WSU and UCLA games, there is little chance that they will win the league title and their season for the third year in a row will come down to the conference tourney.

Former Dawgs Doing Well

As I mentioned, Thomas has been a surprise success for Sacramento. On February 7th, a Youtube clip was released titled “Mr. Irrelevant”, chronicling his rise to NBA legitimacy. It doesn’t matter what they say, as long as they are talking and on Wednesday I found it funny that the Madison Square Garden crowd, when the Kings played the Knicks, booed Thomas. Why? I guess because they thought that he had some connection to their old GM, who happened to have a problem with female staff members as well as with assembling a team.

On Friday Thomas was named the starting PG for Sacramento and has been a rousing success so far. This is great to see, but I still would have rather seen Thomas do this next year after breaking every UW scoring, assists and steals record. Can you imagine a line-up with Thomas, Wroten, Ross, Gaddy, Suggs and Wilcox. Perhaps Gaddy could have joined Scott as a red-shirt and gained another year for himself in the process. As a side note, although Gant could be come the first Husky ever to play in four NCAA tournaments as a Husky, Suggs could be the first to sit on the bench for five. Gant sat as a freshman, but that team only made the CBI.

On February 8th Percy Allen of the Seattle Times compiled a list of the Pac-12 teams with the most current NBA pay checks and UW was 8th. Losing Brandon Roy and his 8-9 figure contract made a big difference, but expect the Dawgs to move up that list as the current and likely future Huskies enter the league.

One of those pros, all-time leading rebounder and 2nd leading scorer Jon Brockman, released another of his entertaining trick shot videos on Tuesday.

Though he is a long way from today’s game, George Irvine was a master of the game of basketball back in 1966-70. He was an all conference player at a time when the league was the best in the nation by a long margin, with the presence of John Wooden, etc. On February 7th Irvine was inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor.

I remember George as a player that I saw in his senior year in 1969-70, in the first year that I really paid attention to Husky Basketball. A good comparison would be the senior year of Quincy Pondexter. Irvine was a wing that could really create his shot, had a strong basketball IQ and just an all around player. Like Quincy, George was a leader and he turned out to be a major success in the game, not only as a pro player, but as a coach and front office man in the league. Irvine. like Pondexter, Brockman, Roy and Detlef Schrempf all played four years. All were able to succeed at the highest levels of the game. Perhaps Wroten and Ross should consider that, as they weigh their decisions in April.

(Jason McCleary of leftcoastrecruiting.com contributed to this post)

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