The Huskies returned to the states after playing .500 ball over six overseas games. After getting out of the gate fast, winning their first two games, the Huskies dropped three straight, before edging out Rueil AC (France), 67-66, in what proved to be their final game. The Dawgs were slated to play Dakar University Club (Senegal) in their final game on Friday, but due to severe weather, the game was cancelled. In what was certainly a memorable trip to his native country, Aziz N’Diaye tweeted “it was a blessing to come back where it all started fr me.#humble n respect.”
If you followed the team’s’ travels on Abdul Gaddy’s blog, Men’s Basketball Facebook page or GoHuskies.com, you saw that the trip served the Dawgs well in shaping team camaraderie, building some pre-season, off-the-court chemistry and providing the kind of “life lessons” that only cross-cultural travels can. But what did we learn from the on-the-court play?
Over the course of the trip, the coaching staff commented on the improvements the team was making, building confidence and trust in one another and their new offensive system. Really, in a pre-season setting such as this, that’s what you want to see as a fan, improvement and growth. In an interesting “twist”, coach Romar followed a new script – the big men that rebound the most (best), per minute played, would start the following game. This, after I declared that I didn’t expect to see much change in the starting line-up. So much for “bold” predictions! Perhaps this sort of competition, though, will bode well for the front line, prodding them to do what the team needs most, provide inside presence, particularly on the glass.
Abdul Gaddy, as I expected, looked good and led the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game. Sharp shooting guards, Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox, seemed to have the green light, as well they should, contributing 13.3 and 13.2 ppg, respectively. Redshirt freshman, Andrew Andrews was very effective off the bench with 8.7 ppg. Andrews, in addition to talent, possesses several intangibles that will serve the Huskies well this season. He has a nose for the ball and is not afraid to aggressively attack the rim. In the Huskies’ final game, Andrews tallied 11 points and 4 assists as he spelled Gaddy, who had to sit much of the second half due to foul trouble. Finally, the front line reserves have shown they’ve put in off-season work, as they compete for viable minutes.
The team returned earlier this week, no doubt impacted both on and off the court. For coach Romar, the wheels of the plane touched down only to soon go up again, as he hits the road recruiting for the 2013 class. It’s early, but it’s busy at Montlake. Go Dawgs!