Romar gave us a hint that this would happen back in training camp when he was talking about how difficult it was to implement his defense with all the young players. Romar gave some hints, without saying it specifically, that this would be a difficult transition season without players like Brockman, QPon, and IT to rely upon. Unfortunately, it is all coming true. The Washington Huskies are not a very good basketball team. While Romar teams traditionally lack the fundamental basketball styles of other college teams, the athleticism and talent on the roster has generally resulted in a team who can win games based purely on their overall ability to out-run and out-last the opponents.
But, this team clearly looks like one who’s lack of fundamental basketball skills, and perhaps more importantly, basketball IQ is going to kill them this year. I am starting to think this will be a .500 team in Pac-12 play this year. I wrote an article in the pre-season wondering if this team will start to resemble the 19-13 squad of Spencer Hawes following 2-straight Sweet 16s. Actually, it may resemble the 16-17 squad of one year later.
Many people have complained over the years that Lorenzo Romar is an excellent teacher in practice, but not a good game strategist. But, what I saw in the Nevada game was a coach who implemented a few in-game moves that would have won the game, but players whose basketball IQ is so low that they could not follow their coaches instructions. Cases in point:
1) With 10 seconds left and up 3, I saw Romar on the TV specifically tell his players to foul Nevada with 5 seconds left to prevent the 3 pointer. So, when Deonte Burton brings the ball up, I see Tony Wroten sort of half-way reach his hand out as if to foul, totally miss Burton and give him an uncontested 3-pointer at the buzzer to send it into OT.
When I saw Romar call that foul out to the players, I assumed game over. But, either Wroten didn’t believe his coach, didn’t hear his coach, or simply wasn’t smart enough to realize that fouling in that situation was the right thing to do.
2) 6 men on the floor causing a technical foul? Seriously, how do they not communicate with each other to know who should be in or out? That technical foul could also be counted as the reason they lost.
3) Gaddy has the ball at the top of the key with time running out on the shot clock. Eventually he throws it to Gant at the 3-point line. There, Gant proceeds to turn his back to the basket and flail about until the clock runs out. Another turnover… How could Gant not know how much time is left. How could his teammates not tell him to at least pass it or launch something up?
4) There are 1 million potential pick-and-rolls this team could run. Every time Gaddy or Wroten have the ball at the top of the key, Aziz runs up to set a “pick”, but inevitably what happens is that the guard is now double teamed and ends up backing out and starting over. Aziz is not the man who should be going out there. Have Ross or Wilcox set the pick and then run the pick and roll. Heck, Breunig or Simmons could do it if you need more size. Instead it is just a waste of time what they are doing and occassionally results in turnovers.
5) Late in the game, UW has the ball out of bounds on its baseline. Instead of running an actual inbounds play, like most high school coaches teach their teams, they just lofted the ball up and allowed the Nevada player to get it. We’ve seen that story before…
6) I love Terrance Ross! His athleticism and abilities are amazing. But, we are NOT utilizing him to the fullest. Either Ross doesn’t know how to get into position to get the ball or Romar doesn’t know how to instruct him to. Far too often, Ross simply stands out there in the high post hardly moving at all. He should be the one coming off screens, streaking to the basketball on pick-and-rolls, or coming out to collect the ball at the top of the key to create his own shots.
7) CJ Wilcox also does WAY too much standing around. Sure, they run some plays where he streaks across the baseline, comes off a screen under the basket, and gets those wide-open looks for that silky smooth jumper. But, too often, Wilcox is standing out there uninvolved in the play.
8) Why does Gaddy slowly walk the ball up the court and stand out there 30 feet away as if the team is about to run a half court offense? The team doesn’t have a half court offense. Move the ball around early and often and let some of your athleticism work to your advantage. Instead he stands there for 10 seconds while everyone else stands around before Aziz eventually comes running up to set the “pick” to nowhere.
I suspect the trip to New York is not going to be a happy one. Sure, they may get to see a Broadway show so they can pretend to be doing homework during their extended absence. But, I suspect they will lose by 15 to Marquette and 25 to Duke. I am starting to think, unless this team really starts to pull it together in the conference season, that this will not be an NCAA tournament team. Maybe the return of Suggs will help. We surely need a senior leader and Gant isn’t it.