Texas Tech provides little opposition in century mark busting Husky win
Justin Holiday scored a career high of 20, coming out on fire for 17 in the 1st half and the Dawgs rolled over Texas Tech 108-79. Holiday did everything except sell popcorn for UW on both sides of the court and Coach Lorenzo Romar was suitably impressed.
“He guarded and (gave) up 40-50 pounds to (Mike) Singletary, yet he did a great job. He rebounded and was one rebound away from a double-double. Thatâ€™s just a very good basketball day for Justin Holiday.”
The Red Raiders are a team that Washington lost to last season on the road in Lubbock TX in overtime, as Elston Turner (who transferred to Texas A+M) missed two foul shots, either of which would have likely iced the game in the final seconds.
This time there was to be no last second blunders, no close calls and no chance for TTech, who are not a bad team. The Dawgs were just not a good fit for Coach Pat Knight’s team from the Lone Star State. Matthew Bryan-Amaning followed with 18 points, Isaiah Thomas a quiet and alert 16 and C.J. Wilcox notched 11 on 3-5 from three point land.
Romar agreed that TTech were actually pretty dangerous and I don’t feel as if it was just coach-speak.
“Texas Tech is hard to guard because they run the motion. We really have to be alert, you can’t have any breakdowns or they capitalize on it.”
That last Wilcox stat (3-5 from three) was probably the most significant development for the Dawgs, as C.J. continues to build on a season 3-point percentage of almost 60%.
Needless to say, even a basketball neophyte would have to wonder that if this is going to hold up or even exceed 50% this year, Washington is going to be hard to beat and Wilcox should be getting a lot of shots.
Washington didn’t really need what Wilcox did against TTech to win the game, but Washington’s three point shooting as a team overall was probably the biggest factor for them in the lopsided win. The Dawgs were led by Holiday’s 4-7 (57%), C.J. and Abdul Gaddy’s 2-2 from three and shot 9-17 as a team for 53%.
Were they cold and only shot say 3-17, they would have likely won this game, but an additional 18 points was 2/3 of the gap between these two teams. Furthermore, the cold fact that Washington is such a good outside shooting team right now and shooters have to be covered, opens things up greatly for the likes of Thomas, who is a terror when he gets into the lane.
Isaiah also made a positive statement by stepping up to the free throw line and making 6-6. If Washington is going to have a shot at the Pac-10 title, Thomas is going to have to be dependable at the line. One other surprise was that Darnell Gant, who is shooting 67% from three so far this year, did not attempt a three.
Perhaps TTech sought to deny him those looks, which of course opens up other players. The big concern for UW is whether this group of marksmen is going to be able to do this on the road in the Pac-10. If they can, you can probably pencil them in right now as regular season league champs, but there are a lot of games to be played.
Wilcox was not that impressive in the Kentucky and MSU games, but what also jumps out is that he only played a total of 15-minutes in both combined and still shot 2-4 from three. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that Wilcox needs to get more looks from behind the arc and naturally minutes.
The other piece of good news for Washington is that their inside unit of Matthew, Darnell and starter Aziz N’Diaye seem to be providing enough of an inside threat so that teams can’t ignore them.
Bryan-Amaning had a solid 8-13 from the field. MBA seemed to block out better, and though he had only 2 boards (Holiday led UW with 9 rebounds), he contributed to a team effort that out-boarded TTech 36-26 and led the Dawgs with 2 of their 8 blocks.
N’Diaye also had 7 boards, though he only played 12 minutes in which he fouled out. That minute total was second lowest on the UW team to walk-on Brendan Sherrer (3). One would wonder how long Romar will go with Aziz as the starter, but if the staff can help him do things to stay out of foul trouble, it may be better for the team to keep him there.
Starting Matt, were he to get a couple of early fouls, would probably hurt UW more in the latter stages of games. Darnell also played well around the basket scoring 8 points, mostly when found open or on put-backs. Gant also led UW with 3 of their 9 steals.
It was also another feel good win, much like the Virginia game, in which the UW team shared the ball well. On a number of occasions intelligent passes were made, leading to an advantage in the assist column over TTech of 21-11.
Tech also made some smart plays, as they are a group of mostly veteran upperclassmen, but the great 3-point shooting definitely helped UW in that department. It was a balanced effort as Gaddy, Thomas and Venoy Overton all had 4 assists to co-lead the Dawgs in dimes, but six other players also had at least one assist as well.
If all that wasn’t enough, not only did Thomas pick it up from the free throw line, but the team shot 74%. That is very good news for Dawg fans concerned about a problem that was the back breaker for the 2008-2009 team getting further in the NCAA tournament and literally ruined the season of the 2007-2008 team.
If UW can keep their FT shooting over 70%, I feel that factors won’t weigh heavily for them this season. Troubles were few and smiles were plenty at Hec-Ed against the Red Raiders, but there were times in the 1st half when I felt that UW eased up on TTech and were a little soft with only around a ten point cushion.
With the devastating Michigan State game not too long ago, I would think that the Dawgs would still be in attack mode with that kind of mushy cushion separating them from such a talented team. To their credit though Washington did do a very good job on senior star Mike Singletary who they held to 6 points and jammed up for 4 TO’s. Mike had 27 against UW last year.
The Huskies were more susceptible to senior forward Brad Reese, who scored 19 to lead his team, but Reese also was forced into 4 turnovers. Senior guards John Roberson and David Tairu had 14 point a piece, but Washington did much better against Roberson, who torched them in Lubbock last season for 25 and limited him to one point in the 2nd half.
One slightly negative note for Washington is that Overton, Gaddy and Thomas are in need of more work on containing quick talented guards and Roberson and Tairu at times were able to get inside and make plays.
It was a much worse problem against Kentucky and Michigan State, where Washington was not able to dominate almost every other facet of the game as they did against TTech. It is also a very hard thing to do, when the competition is just plain good, but it definitely a possible area of concern for Washington going forward this season.
Washington must now prepare for a Portland team that was blown out by WSU at the Key Arena 84-68 and in even worse fashion against Kentucky in Portland OR 79-48. The Pilots are a team with talent and pride and I’m certain that Coach Eric Reveno will have them better prepared for UW on Monday at 7PM (PST) in Seattle than they were for those two games.
Romar dropped a little humor into the conversation as he addressed the problem of his team losing focus, even while being way ahead.
“Now, there are some games I can go back and get some Ben and Jerryâ€™s Chunky Monkey and watch the replay and then I can enjoy it. But you still point out mistakes, like why werenâ€™t we rotating or why didnâ€™t we do that.”
I’m wondering if Lorenzo is getting a fee for plugging Ben and Jerry, but I kind of doubt it. That seemed like a case of a clearly revealed weakness.
One thing that Lorenzo also revealed in his press conference prior to the TTech game on Friday was that he is extremely sold on Wilcox. He mentioned that he feels that C.J. is the best shooter that he has seen in his tenure at Washington, including All-time 3-point scorer Ryan Appleby and All-Pac-10 wing Tre Simmons.
I would think that Wilcox would have to do more before being compared to those guys, but Romar went as far as to say that his form is so well put together at such an early point in his career that it’s comparable to that of one of the greatest in the game.
â€œThat’s Ray Allen stuffâ€, said Romar while talking about Wilcox’ natural ability to get his feet set.
Doug Gottlieb of ESPN gave Washington quite a bit of credit in his column, but it was obvious that he has actually seen only UW’s performances in Maui.
“This team (UW) has great speed and athleticism, but the blowout of Virginia was more a matter of two things: Washington is better and further along with veteran players, and Washington shot the eyes out of the basketball, something they do not normally do. Isaiah Thomas is still primarily a driver, but his jumper does look fundamentally sound. Abdul Gaddy continues to be limited by his lack of burst and jump shot, but Darnell Gant looks vastly improved shooting the ball as a face-up four. Aziz N’Diaye might be the best pro prospect on Washington’s team. N’Diaye is a legit 7-foot center, who appears even
bigger — if that is possible. He moves well, jumps quick, and though he does not bring a bunch on offense, he can score off the pass when he quickly dunks the ball. With a legit shot-blocker, he will and the Huskies will improve, but UW needs to have better execution down the stretch to win the Pac-10.”
TTech Coach Pat Knight may be losing grip on his job in Lubbock. This past week he complained that his then 4-3 Red Raiders should be 6-1 to the Dallas Morning News. He has been taking a lot of heat and is firmly on the hot seat. I can’t imagine a beating like the one UW just dished out helping his argument.
Knight also didn’t hesitate to throw his team under the bus after the UW game, which is a very risky thing to do mid-season.
“I thought the defense was horrendous. My older guys were playing bad and my younger guys were playing bad. But this game gives a lot of tape to watch and a lot of ammunition to hold guys accountable in practice.â€
Thomas was the subject of a great Youtube highlight reel that was released this past week and was also mentioned by Bleacher Report as one of the “top-25 juniors who are making their mark” this season.
MBA was also mentioned in a Bleacher Report feature on the college games “Top-20 dunkers”.
Terrence Ross, who had a solid productive outing against TTech with 6 points on 3-4 from the field in only 10 minutes, was the subject of nice feature on GoHuskies.com.
Ross admitted that he would consider it if the NBA came knocking, but that he is clearly not letting it distract him this season.
“I’m basically just focused on this season, and whatever happens happens. If (the NBA) becomes an option, maybe I will consider it then. But I just want to do all I can to help the team any way I can, any time I am in the game.”
Terrence also admitted that his recruiting, “Really came down to Villanova and Washington”.
Freshman Desmond Simmons, who is red-shirting this year, is not wasting away on the bench. According to his tweet on Thursday the combo forward, who will be a freshman next year, is up to “220 lbs today”. This is great news for UW fans, as Washington will need to continue to build it’s front court.
Having Simmons big enough to handle bigger guys defensively and to navigate to interior where he tends to play is going to help Washington tremendously.
Another big part of UW’s hopes for next year is 2011 signee Tony Wroten, who has a new Youtube video on Garfield High school’s “Jamboree” which features him on a number of impressively athletic and skilled plays.
Fellow UW 2011 guard signee Hikeem Stewart was also given credit by USA Today which picked him at #93 in his class.
Stewart was again behind the bench at the TTech game along with his dad weight trainer Bull Stewart and what looked like a huge Euro-looking recruit who followed the team into the locker room at half-time. Husky Digest is researching who that player was and should have something on him soon.