1.) Expect Sloppiness
The Huskies are implementing a new high-post offense this season, and Coach Romar himself has said that he doesn’t expect that offense to be run smoothly until at least December. That means turnovers. Maybe even lots of them. That means wasted possessions during which players are just passing around the perimeter without anyone really seeming to run a real play or take the initiative to make something happen. That situation won’t seem like anything new to anyone that watched this team last season, but still, expect it. It is especially notable that this new offense involves more decision making, even quarterbacking, as Percy Allen put it, from the post players, such as Desmond Simmons and even Aziz N’Diaye. So, especially at first, be ready for some seriously cringe-worthy mistakes from those two, if past mouth wide-open blunders from those two, especially N’Diaye, are any indication.
2.) Expect Unfamiliar Names
Well, unfamiliar if you aren’t a hardcore fan that really keeps tabs on recruiting and keeps up on redshirting or bench-riding players. In particular, watch for Andrew Andrews to serve as a sort of offensive spark off of the bench. His fairly unfortunate name aside, Andrews was said to be perhaps more ready than Hikeem Stewart to play last season, but the decision was made to save his year of eligibility. Expect new contributors at power forward as well. In particular, the coaches seem to be impressed with the progress of Shawn Kemp Jr’s game. He certainly isn’t guaranteed major minutes behind Desmond Simmons, the unofficial but almost certain starter at the four, but he appears to be in good position to play a significant role.
3.) Expect Defense
Last year, it was, at times, plain to see that the team did not “buy in” to Coach Romar’s aggressive brand of team defense. There was no one willing to make the ball handler uncomfortable, Venoy Overton style, no one trapping and harassing, and far, far too many back door dunks and layups allowed. No one was communicating, and too many players seemed to be trying to defend, but simply not in the way that Romar would have preferred. I see that changing this season. These players have been together for awhile. There are minimal egos, no stars, just basketball players that enjoy playing together. What this year’s team may lack in comparison to 2011 in talent, I believe they make up for in selflessness and experience, and I believe that will be plain to see in the improved defense that they play.
4.) Expect Threes
A lot of them. Maybe even too many. Last year, Tony Wroten attempted to second highest number of shots on the team. He had absolutely no shooting range, so even though every single three-point attempt was an infuriating waste of a possession that stood out to everyone watching, he attempting relatively few threes throughout the year. Ross, the highest volume shooter from last year, attempted a ton of threes, and made a pretty decent percentage of them, but it was just one element of his game. As they say, he was more of a scorer than a pure outside shooter. Now, with both Wroten and Ross gone, the two players likely to take the greatest number of shots, C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs, happen to both be terrific three-point shooters. You could even say both players are much better shooting from deep than they are at creating their own mid range shots or slashing to the basket. Early in the season, before the offense is fully functioning, that could lead to the offense boiling down to those two players jacking up a lot of threes. If they go in, no one will care. If they don’t, it could be an issue.
5.) Expect a Blowout Win
Some are warning that this may be a fairly close game. I don’t buy it at all. The longtime head coach of Western’s team, Brad Jackson, is now an assistant for the Huskies, and several of the key contributors on the DII National Championship team of last year have moved on. Not to mention, even if they are national champions, they are national champions of a lower level of basketball. They are slower, they are weaker, and they are shorter. I don’t mean to insult Western, and I don’t mean to say that physical traits are the only things that determine a basketball game. Of course, if a team is willing to work harder, and play smarter, they have a chance, but I don’t see Western really outplaying Washington in that aspect either. So, at that point, the fact that there is no one that can match up with N’Diaye, or the height and athleticism of most of the Husky guards, becomes a deciding factor.
Score Prediction: Washington 77, Western 53