Husky Basketball: Is This Team An Enigma?

Scott Suggs Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

The Washington Huskies team is certainly different this year. There is a lot that is unseen and unheard of for the coming season. Not only for fans but for the national media and the nation’s attention.

Once again, UCLA and Arizona are flying high on the national radar. Both had huge recruiting classes and are returning some important players from last season. USC is actually gaining some ground in the spotlight. Many are talking about a completely different Trojan squad with Jio Fontan back in the mix.

The Huskies, however, look to be an enigma. The national media isn’t sure what to do with them. Are they good? Are they bad? Who is their best player? Do they have a deep bench? Do they not? And with all these questions they don’t know how to answer, they still can’t regulate Washington out of the race. Or maybe they don’t want to.

Take for example, the article that I read last night by Eammon Brennan on ESPN.com. He is breaking down the Pac-12 in “best/worst case scenarios” and he also lists the top player for each team on the side. At the top he has 5 stories lines to follow during the summer.

However, his comments are really straight forward for every team in the Pac-12 but for Washington he seems befuddled. Take a look at his best/worst case scenario for UW.

Best-case scenario: For as much as Tony Wroten impressed NBA scouts with attacking athleticism last season, let’s not forget that Wroten posted a 95.5 offensive rating on the 13th-highest usage rate (32.2 percent) of any player in the country. Maybe losing Wroten to the NBA draft isn’t that bad, after all. If Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox form a more efficient backcourt, and Aziz N’Diaye can add to his low-post repertoire, this team might be a better — or at least more cohesive — offensive unit.

Worst-case scenario: The Wroten departure may not hurt, at least compared to last season, but the loss of versatile swingman Terrence Ross is a definite downer. Ross wasn’t just productive, he was efficient. Even with him, the Huskies couldn’t manage to make the NCAA tournament. Without him, and without Lorenzo Romar’s typical recruiting haul, the Huskies could struggle to get close.

On first read through you think, how is that even a “best or worst” case scenario. In fact, both the worst and the best sound like the same. On second read through, you can better understand his reasoning: the best case scenario is that UW is more cohesive and the worst is that they struggle to get close to the NCAA tournament.

However, it isn’t clear. And that is not Brennan’s writing style. The rest of the Pac-12 is answered in a pretty straight forward fashion.

Now, let’s look at his ‘most important player’ for the Husky team:

Washington: Scott Suggs
C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy are the most recognizable names on the roster. But don’t forget about Suggs, a sharpshooter who averaged 7.4 points and shot 45 percent from 3-point range as a junior two years ago. The 6-foot-6 Suggs, who redshirted last season because of a foot injury, could be one of the X factors for the Huskies.

Sure, he declares Suggs as the guy but does it in a way that leaves you guessing if it is really Gaddy or Wilcox. Especially, when his last line is “could be one of the X-factors”. Brennan doesn’t seem convinced it is actually Suggs. When in every other Pac-12 school he is definite on his choice with no other current players listed (except Arizona but that is only to state that it will elevate his pick for most important player).

What is going on?

Honestly, the answer is that the media, fans, both nationally and locally are unsure what to do with this team. Two of the most talented players may be guys that have yet to hit the court, Andrew Andrews and Mark McLaughlin. Then there is a guy named Suggs, who was red-shirted all last season due to injury. Gaddy has been an enigma from the beginning so he just adds to that puzzle. Aziz N’Diaye has been working on his offensive game, but fans have heard that before. Shawn Kemp is supposed to be in better shape and knows the system. We could go on and on about why there are more questions than answers right now but I won’t.

Instead, I will leave you with my best/worst case scenario for this enigma in the media’s eyes. They will either (best case), fly under the radar or (worst case) leave us in mystery for all of next season.

Topics: Andrew Andrews, CJ Wilcox, Mark Mclaughlin, National Media, Scott Suggs, Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten, Washington Huskies, X Factor

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  • Pixeldawg13

    Reads as though Mark is just as bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by this Dawg team as the rest of the media types.

    Me, I think they will be fun–and AA will impress.

    • huskyhaul

      Haha I am bothered by this team. Once again, I think they can really impress some people with the talent they have but like last year there could be a problem with chemistry. And which players step up the most?

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  • rossb

    I’m excited about this team. Not as excited as a couple years ago, but much more excited than last year. Two years ago we seemed to have everything in place for a major run in the tournament, but it didn’t happen (in part because of injuries). I had low expectations for last year, but we exceeded them. We missed the tournament by a very small margin, and an unprecedented one at that. Injuries played a part in that loss as well.

    Fans (and sometimes reporters) often exaggerate the impact that freshman have. For example, Romar’s weak recruiting class this year won’t hurt him next year, but the year after. Likewise, we saw that Ross wasn’t a great contributor his freshman year, but was outstanding the next year. I have no doubt that if Wroten stayed another year, the same thing could be said of him.

    I’m not one of those guys who believes we are better off without him. I’m one of those guys who believes that experience at the D-1 level is hugely important (with the exception of Kentucky). This team will have major experience, especially at guard. Unlike last year, if we stay healthy, we will have enormous depth at the back court. Fortunately, we have a coach who is probably the best in the country at maximizing that depth. We will go back to playing Romar-ball.

    To cite just one example, imagine if Stewart gets his groove back, and can hit an open jump shot. Not be the first option, mind you (we have plenty of scorers) but just become a decent jump shooter (similar to Gaddy). What then? We have another guard who knows the offense, makes few mistakes, plays great defense and is a decent offensive player. This means he could easily play ten minutes a game. This means all the guards can go all out. No worries about fatigue (unlike last year). The other team better have the ball handlers to deal with the pressure, otherwise it won’t matter who they have underneath.

    The great thing is, Stewart can be a complete bust (similar to last year) and it won’t matter. We have plenty of guys who seem more ready (or more talented) than the sophomore. That’s a really nice luxury to have, and it means that we will simply destroy many of the teams we play next year. We may struggle against a well balanced team that has more talented big men, but I expect us to blow out many of our competition, especially the (still youthful) Pac-12.