A (Very) Early Look at the '12-'13 Team

by: John Chase

The 2011-2012 season has been over for some time now. Our two stars have declared early for the NBA draft and Lorenzo Romar seems to be done recruiting for next season. The Dawgs have added two new names to the roster, though one will likely red shirt this season as per NCAA regulations regarding transfers.

So what can Husky fans expect out of next year’s team? It’s a bit hard to tell at the moment, especially in light of last season’s less than stellar outcome. While the 2011-2012 team was young, but talented, the lack of depth may have ultimately led to the early season losses and the late season collapses. 2012-2013 looks to be loaded with much more experience and, hopefully, a much deeper bench that will allow Romar and staff to execute the type of high octane defense that has been such a staple of this program.

With seven freshman on last season’s roster it is easy to see why the team may have struggled early on. Next season the roster will feature two redshirt freshmen, five sophomores (four if Austin Sefarian-Jenkins does not return), one redshirt sophomore, two juniors, and four seniors (though Perry Blackwell will be redshirting). Now I must state that experience does not always equal talent, but it certainly is not a deterrent.

Only two incoming players will have had zero experience with Romar’s program and both players are experienced college ball athletes. Along with the preseason trip to Europe and Africa, this team should be a much more prepared unit than the 15 guys that took the court against Seattle Pacific University in early November, 2011.

The biggest question is most certainly “Who will replace Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten?”. With Scott Suggs returning from his medical redshirt season, it is easy to imagine Suggs slipping right into Ross’ starting possession and immediately make a positive impact. Suggs was our most consistent 3-point threat in the 2010-2011 season and he appeared confident in his shot throughout the exercises in the pregame warm-ups. Suggs has a chance to be one of the leagues leading scorers if he can not only knock down his jumper, but also drive the line with regularity to keep the defenses from cheating out to cover him.

C.J. Wilcox also has the potential to jump into the starting 5 with his excellent outside shooting. At times, Wilcox was a streaking shooter hitting either all of his shots or none at all. There is no stopping Wilcox once he gets hot, just take a look at the 2009-2010 game against UCLA for proof.

I should also throw the new Husky’s name in here, Mark McLaughlin. While I have seen very little of his game outside of the occasional highlight video, McLaughlin is another tall wing with excellent scoring abilities. McLaughlin could provide excellent 6th man support, much like Wilcox this past year. Who knows, McLaughlin may turn out to be a better scoring threat than either Suggs or Wilcox, though my money is on the later players.

As for point guard production, the majority of the burden will fall upon Abdul Gaddy who is still struggling to live up to the hype set before his freshman year. Gaddy showed much more aggressiveness in the final stretch, but it proved to be too little too late. Gaddy is a well controlled guard with great court vision who, unlike Wroten, can see his teammates on the perimeter while attacking the lanes and is very comfortable kicking it out for an open J. Gaddy needs to be willing to move inside the paint and drop in the teardrop over the opposition frontcourt or simply bank his shot off the glass into the rim. When Gaddy executes inside, it looks all too easy and often leaves me wondering why in the world he doesn’t attempt such things more often.

With next year’s starting five likely featuring two outside threats versus two point guards. We may see more driving shots from whoever is at the 1 position as the defense spreads to covers the 3-point threat. I also believe that Andrew Andrews is in a position to provide stellar relief for Abdul Gaddy.

Andrews has shown to be a fairly solid outside shooter and is also known for having great speed and passing abilities. I’ve been told that Andrews has come out of practices looking like the best point guard on the court. We can only hope that these rumors are true. Hikeem Stewart can also improve his impact on the game by spending the summer with a shooting coach. As it stands Stewart is a 1-dimensional player without much of a shooting game, making it far too easy for opponents to simply sit back and let Stewart jack up shots that will never fall.

The second question the Huskies will have to address is “How will the frontcourt perform?”. In many ways, this is a more important question than replacing Ross and Wroten. Players almost always step up their offensive production when called upon to do so and considering the holes our team needs to fill is in our deepest position, well we as fans shouldn’t stress ourselves too much in that regard.

The Huskies lose Darnell Gant to graduation, leaving Aziz N’Diaye as the only major minute grabbing big man. Desmond Simmons will pick up most of Gant’s minutes as Simmons proved himself to be an amazing rebounder and hustler whenever he got into the game. Simmons did hit the proverbial freshman wall late in the season, but the fact that it took so long to occur is a testament to the work ethic Simmons possesses. I believe that Simmons and N’Diaye will be responsible for most of the dirty work off the glass, but expect some support for our outside guards.

The Husky frontcourt will also add in 6’10 redshirt freshman, Jernard Jerreau. While Jerreau is still built like a beanpole, he has put on weight since arriving to the UW campus. Another summer of working out will hopefully see an additional 10 or 15lbs of muscles added to his physique. The frontcourt should also see reasonable production from Shawn Kemp Jr and Martin Breunig, both of whom showed potential on the offensive side of the ball. Their defensive lapses is what likely kept both players from receiving more minutes throughout the year. I am a big fan of Breunig. During his limited playtime, he really impressed me on the offensive end and I like the way he executes. I also enjoy Kemp Jr. dunking the ball next to the rim, rather than trying to lay it in as N’Diaye so often does.

So can the frontcourt establish itself as a respectable threat such that our backcourt benefits? I would say…yes. The Husky frontcourt will not be one of the top in the nation, heck it likely won’t be one of the top in the conference (see: UCLA for frontcourt depth). What the Husky frontcourt will be is a reminder for teams that the pick-and-roll still exists, that cheating out to the perimeter leads to easy dunks and lay-ins, and that dropping the ball inside to our big men is not any less effective than hitting a 15 foot jumper.

Last season our frontcourt averaged only 28% of our points, I’d like to see that number jump to 35%. Our team relied far too much on backcourt production last season and that wears down players quicker than one might imagine. Sure, we managed to score nearly 80 points per game, but our defense suffered from the effort required on the offensive end. If the post can establish themselves as a scoring threat, the perimeter players will not be asked to run off of so many screens or cut across the baseline as often. I’m not saying those things should stop by any means, but if we can get a nice pass to the block for a 1-on-1 situation, our frontcourt should be talented enough to score a majority of the time. N’Diaye has really begun to put together some solid post moves that are near impossible to stop at 7 feet tall.

Overall, I would say this team may be slightly more consistent than 2011-2012, but I fear a similar post season outcome. UCLA and Arizona look very dangerous with some very talented freshmen joining their respective teams. Stanford also looks to be a threat, losing very little from last year’s NIT championship team. What this means for the Huskies is with a successful non-conference season of their own, the Pac-12 could finally start making a return to dominance in the NCAA tournament.

At this point, I would predict the Huskies to finish in 3rd, maybe 4th place, with a 12-6 or 11-7 record. As the season draws nearer and more information begins to come out from the various camps and practices, I’ll speculate more on how each individual Pac-12 team should fair in the coming season.

Go Dawgs!

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Andrew Andrews Aziz N'Diaye C.J. Wilcox Desmond Simmons Hikeem Stewart Jernard Jarreau John Chase Mark Mclaughlin Scott Suggs Terrence Ross Tony Wroten

  • bellingham husky

    Three things that very well could improve next year:
    •defensive intensity and understanding
    •offensive cohesion

    Those three together might be enough to fill in the talent void left by TW and Ross. Those three together might keep us in the top 3 of the Pac.

  • ddogg

    So much rests on Gaddy’s sholders – I hope he can lead this team to great things.
    Call me crazy – but the frontline has to be better – right? We have everyone back and I think Martin and Kemp will be better.

    I do look forward to teams zoning us with Wilcox, Suggs and Andrews on the court – three shooters that will have the green light to blow up the zone.

  • ddogg

    FYI – can I see a few lob plays to Wilcox this year? Kid has Ross jumps but never uses them!

  • RossB

    The big questions for me are:

    1) Can the bigs replace Gant’s defense. Gant was a mediocre rebounder and offensive threat, but he played outstanding defense. He could cover big guys and little guys. This meant that he could destroy the opponents pick and roll by himself. Just pressure and switch. No mismatch there. I like Simmons, but he (or someone else) needs to really improve defensively to come close to what Gant did.

    2) Can we stay healthy. For the last couple years, we had a big injury cost us a lot. We aren’t alone in the Pac-12 for that (which explains a lot of our struggles). We lost a starter a couple years ago and an expected starter last year. Meanwhile, our best shooter was hobbled. Much of our troubles and inconsistency was due to our guards getting fatigued. If guys stay healthy, that shouldn’t be a problem.

    I think Stewart will get decent minutes next year, which should help everyone. He sucked offensively, but most of the time he did the right thing. He just couldn’t shoot. His defense was solid (if not better than average, especially for a freshman) and he didn’t make too many bad passes. If, like you say, he can simply add a decent jump shot, he could be another Overton (without the off court troubles).

  • RossB

    @ddog — I think they did run the same backdoor play to Wilcox a few times last year (that they ran to Ross) . He didn’t finish as well, so maybe that’s why they didn’t run it as often (he didn’t seem to have the same great hands to corral a pass as Ross did). They may have also been afraid of Wilcox getting hurt (not only because of his injury, but because he isn’t as big). I do expect them to run that play quite often next year, though. He is probably a bigger threat on that play than Ross, just because he can hit the three more consistently (not that Ross was a slouch).

  • chillinvillin

    I am glad Wilcox has the potential to get into the starting line. I never thought 14 points a game was so easy. :-)

  • RossB

    My guess is next year’s starting lineup in the first game is:
    Gaddy, Wilcox, Suggs, Simmons and Aziz. The big question is who plays the three. In other words, which of our three guards covers the third biggest player on the other team. Two years ago it was Holiday. He was a superb defender, even though he sometimes struggled against bigger guys (just about anyone would). Ross struggled even more his freshman year, but by the end of his sophomore year, was doing just fine. Suggs and Wilcox seem to be about the same size and build, so I’m not sure which one of them would get that assignment. It might depend on who is the better defender overall, and who the best offensive threat is on the other side.

    With any luck, we’ll have three solid guards coming off of the bench, which means we will wear down plenty of teams. Good, old fashioned Romar-ball might be back. We just have to stay healthy.

  • http://uwbasketblog.blogspot.com John Chase

    @chillin, haha yeah…He is one of those players who just chips away and tallies points. I can distinctly remember 3 games this year where I looked up at the scoreboard and thought to myself “how did wilcox get to 15 already?” For me that is exciting because if he can get some solid possession numbers, he could really light things up. I guess I should have reworded my section on Wilcox given that he was almost always the first man off the bench for us. I’ll just pretend I’m pulling a Romar and saying the starting 5 is never locked in before the season starts, haha.

  • http://www.huskydigest.com Jim Basnight

    “Talkin’ Hoops” tonight was fun, as I gave my slant on the news:


  • MooseTrain

    Stephen Domingo commits to Georgetown.

  • purpsquad

    Big time loss as espn is reporting stephen domingo has committed to Georgetown, cross him off the 2013 wish list

  • http://www.huskydigest.com Jim Basnight

    “Talkin’ Hoops” tonight was a rapid fire look at all the UW and Pac-12 hoops news:


  • http://www.huskydigest.com Jim Basnight

    “Talkin’ Hoops” tonight was all about UW recruiting: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/nwsportsradio/2012/05/30/talkin-hoops-with-jim-basnight