COLLEGE HOOPS

Washington Husky Huddle for Monday November 21st 2011

Nov 21, 2011, 12:51 PM | Updated: 5:09 pm

The Washington Huskies were embarrassed on their first road trip of the year in Saint Louis Sunday, 77-64. Coach Lorenzo Romar will have a lot of thinking to do on the plane ride home regarding why his team came out flat. The Dawgs were out scored 50-25 in the first half.

The second half was a different story. The Huskies outscored Saint Louis, 39-27. There was a sense of desperation and pride that helped the Huskies make the score deceptively respectable. The truth is that the Billikens put on a clinic against the Dawgs. The Huskies will need to regroup as a team and learn from this.

Washington will play Houston Baptist at home on Friday and in retrospect this is only one game. They will need some home cooking and some time to correct problems before they head to Nevada on December 2nd to play a team that many felt would be a greater challenge than Saint Louis.

Two weeks and another more manageable home game should allow the Dawgs to regroup somewhat after finding out how much work they need to do. In New York City after they travel to Reno to face the Wolfpack they play two supremely talented programs in Marquette and Duke.

On Friday ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan asked some very good questions in his “Weekend Primer” feature about the Dawgs, who he has projected for big things in the Pac-12 this season.

“Are the Huskies being slept on? Are they ready to compete right away? Do they have a major learning curve? Some early answers are in the offing.”

I think that UW will be slept on more after this performance, unless they really do some major work between now and NY in Early December. They were not ready to compete on the road and I feel that it is not going to change with one pep talk. UW has a learning curve, though they do have hope with some guys that have been there.

That said, those players are not the leader type. Against Saint Louis, junior guard Abdul Gaddy was unable to lead early enough in the game to make a difference in the outcome. Junior center Aziz N’Diaye is still a green basketball player and not prepared to be a great team leader at this level. He’s doing well, but not a true leader yet.

Lone healthy scholarship senior Darnell Gant is a good candidate, but the forward failed this time out to lead his team when the going got tough in the 1st half. Senior guard Scott Suggs will make a difference I believe when he returns, but will he be enough to steer this team that has literally no bench players with legitimate D1 PT?

Sophomore guard Terrence Ross led the Dawgs with 17 points and 10 rebounds and was probably the teams leader, but the Dawgs need more leadership from their upperclassmen and not a one man show by Ross.

Mark Knight of Husky Haul was optimistic that the game could serve as a “good loss” on Sunday.

“The way the Pac-12 is shaping out this season, having an early loss to a team that was less talented but mor fundamental could have been a good thing. They have learned that fundamentals is just as important if not more important than God-given talent. If they use this loss as an opportunity to learn, to improve, by the time the Huskies hit Pac-12 play they should be ready to go.”

Ross said after the game to IMG Sports that this game should serve notice to the UW team. I am certain of one thing. Just saying that is not going to get it done. This UW team needs to play better as a team. This loss was not the failure of an
individual. The team didn’t play well together.

“We learned first and foremost that we have to stay together. We have a lot more road games. A lot tougher. This is a good loss for us to learn what we have to work on and make sure we really have to come out together.”

Will the non-conference losses continue to pile up for the Huskies or will they re-write their story in Madison Square Garden? Only time will tell, but the next two weeks, including what they can take from the Nevada trip will determine just how ready these talented but young and somewhat scattered Dawgs are under the city lights of Madison Square Garden.

The Good

The Huskies showed what they are capable of the last six minutes of the game. Once Coach Romar switched up the defense to zone, the Dawqs were a lot more effective in slowing down Saint Louis. In the 2nd half UW shot over 50% from the field and three point field goals.

Swing man Desmond Simmons is active when on the court but doesn’t get the minutes he might deserve. Although he might be a little undersized, the red-shirt freshman is the most active big man on the team when in the game.

Although the Huskies lost ugly, it is a good thing it happened early in the season, to allow the team to regroup before Pac-12 play. This should be a huge learning experience for the team, especially the young freshman. Romar is known for his teams coming out ragged on the road in the non-conference schedule.

Romar’s UW teams are under .500 against non-conference teams on the road. What is interesting is that in the post season his teams are above .500 against non-con teams. Those numbers prove that his teams get better throughout the season and a wake up call like this one should get the players attention and move up the learning curve.

As Percy Allen of the Seattle Times pointed out on Saturday, “UW is windless in ‘true’ road openers under Romar” and the UW team has come back in the past to do better.

Freshman guard Tony Wroten’s shot looks better and according to Percy Allen on Sunday, Wroten’s aunt the great Joyce Walker was working with in practice this past week. Good news that he is focusing on it and that he has a great teacher to help him along.

Tony is doing better than all of the big name frosh guards in the Pac-12 that were supposed to set the world on fire. According to many recruiting “experts” Arizona’s Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson, ASU’s Jahii Carson and Oregon’s Jabari Brown would be better than he.

Wroten currently leads them all in scoring with 13 points per game and it’s not even close. Brown even quit the team on Thursday according to numerous reports and Carson never made it in academically. Talk about having greater success.

The Huskies outrebounded Saint Louis 40-26, but still managed to lose the game.

The Bad

Suggs didn’t get to play in front of his hometown.

With all due respect to Lorenzo, Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus appeared to have a better game plan and in my opinion managed the game more effectively than Romar. This is no great slight to Lorenzo, as Rick is a tremendous coach. You can’t win them all and Romar has coached some gems, many of which tend to be late in the season.

Freshman guard Tony Wroten has all the skills in the world but needs to limit his turnovers. Wroten turned the ball over 5 times tonight and fouled out of the game. His stat line was 5-11 with 14 points, five turnovers, and one assist. There were times when Wroten over dribbled and forced his way in the lane and turned the ball over.

The turnovers led to easy transition buckets for Saint Louis. On Monday Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports was critical of Tony, as he talked about the progress of the top freshmen in the nation.

“He needs to knock down shots more consistently and cut down on turnovers. 10-for-25 from the charity stripe.”

Gant and N’Diaye had a combined 11 rebounds and that is not going to get it done under most circumstances, even though UW outboarded the Billikens.

Gaddy had a poor offensive game, only finishing with five points. In order for the Huskies to win road games, they will need more offense out of their veteran leader. On Wednesday Husky Haul singled out ‘Dul as the “Key to the Huskies success”. If that is that case then he must also take responsibility for being the key to their failure on Sunday.

The Huskies were sloppy with the ball turning the ball over 16 times, 10 times in the 1st half when the game was truly decided.

The Dawgs lost ground to 57% in the 2nd half from 66% in the 1st at the free throw line, which dampened any chance to get back into the game.

Sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox is a huge piece to the team. When his shot is falling, it loosens up the team and extends the defense. Today Wilcox’s shot wasn’t falling, possibly due to the Billikens excellent defense. Wilcox was held to a season low 4 points. Despite that tough outing, nbadraft.net on Monday still chose Wilcox as their “Pac-12 Player of the Week” from the standpoint of his draft prospects.

Gant and N’Diaye are going to have to step it up on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Tonight both players were in foul trouble before halftime. The foul trouble forced freshman posts Martin Breunig and Shawn Kemp, as well as Simmons to see the court early and way too often in the game. This could turn out to be a bigger problem, huge in fact if either starter is out with injury or illness.

The chemistry on the court wasn’t there on Sunday and looked very bad. The Huskies only hit four 3-pointers while Saint Louis made nine. Most of the Billiken’s threes came in the first half.

Until Suggs returns, UW’s bench have literally no D1 experience, save walk-on Brendan Sherrer in garbage time. Frosh must learn quickly and UW needs Scott’s senior leadership and maturity.

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

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Washington Husky Huddle for Monday November 21st 2011