The tight end contributes right off the bat
Throw a 6’6, 258-pound tight end into the Husky men’s basketball mix and what do you get? Well today, some much needed help in the form of seven rebounds and some nice defense under the hoop. Austin Seferian-Jenkins made his basketball debut as Washington beat Stanford 76-63 to improve to 12-7. They also find themselves within a half game of first place in the Pac-12 Conference.
Jenkins admitted that he didn’t know many of the defensive sets but was more than happy to bring the toughness this team needed. When asked if he intended for his first screen to be so hard he smiled.
“Yeah, every screen I intend to hit someone really hard,” he said.
This week Lorenzo Romar said that Seferian-Jenkins had been impressive in practices. Today he admitted to having his eyes opened the first time he saw him on the practice court.
“The first look?’ he said, “Ok, right away you say that’s a little different then what we have been doing.”
Romar has been very quiet about when and how he would use his newest addition. You got the feeling it could be soon as there was concern about the minutes some of the Huskies were playing in the absence of CJ Wilcox. Romar feels Seferian-Jenkins was not rushed however.
“He has played basketball for a long time so he understands the game and he has some good instincts but he just did not know what we were doing conceptually,” he said. “He has picked it up more and we thought he knew enough to come in and play today.”
It was certainly a different look for the Huskies. Rather than seeing four guards on the floor at times there were a few minutes where they played with three forwards. It was also great to have insurance in the form of a big man. Stanford went after Aziz N’Diaye and got him in foul trouble but he had back up in Seferian-Jenkins. Then there was the toughness, something Abdul Gaddy said was essential this team have.
“It has to be a staple of our team, being physical, and I think Austin gives up that physical presence along with Aziz, Desmond and Darnell,” he said. “We get our identity from those guys and that is our staple. We need to be the tougher team no matter who we play. Loose balls and charges, rebounding…”
Gaddy himself showed a new aggressiveness going to the basket on one of his first possessions. Rather than stay on the perimeter as a distributor today he got more involved, driving the lane sometimes scoring sometimes kicking the ball back out to an open teammate. He finished with nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
“If we play the right way I am not surprised if we can win all of our games,” he said. “We just got to keep guarding, rebounding being the tougher team. We have got to stay consistent. Now we are going on the road and it will me that much harder.”
One bonus for the Huskies is even though he will most likely play very limited minutes they should have CJ Wilcox back for the trip to Arizona. By the looks of things, he will be returning to an improved team.