Final Score: UW-85 L(MD)-63
This game was a tale of two halves in terms of the Husky production. The first half featured sloppy offense coupled with solid defense leading to a close halftime score in the Husky’s favor. With 11 turnovers at half, the Dawgs had only a few point lead with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy leading the way in scoring. Aziz N’Diaye had only 5 points going into the break, but with 9 boards already to his name along with a pair of blocks the big man was letting his presence be known.
Jernard Jerreau got the starting nod over Desmond Simmons, likely due to his lanky frame being an advantage over a smaller, but rangier Loyola team. While Simmons had a better statistical game, Jerreau was not bad turning him time on the court. In fact, Jerreau made the only shot he took as well as making both of his free throw attempts. Jerreau’s two turnovers were offset by an assist and a steal. Jerreau was the only starter not to finished with double digit points.
Speaking of Simmons, the 6-7 forward had a decent night tallying 7 points on 4-6 shooting from the foul line, but just 1 of 3 from the field. Simmons also grabbed 3 rebounds along with dishing out two assists, two steals, and zero turnovers. Simmons was effective as always on the defensive end of the court, scrapping for every ball and making the hustle plays that Romar has been raving about for years.
The second half was much better for the Huskies who went on a tear to finish the night with a 20 point victory over an over matched mid-major team. The biggest difference in the halves was the turnovers committed by the Huskies. The Dawgs only posted 1 turnover in the second and half and, unsurprisingly, this difference in missed possessions allowed the stringent Husky defense to be seen on the scoreboard. Wilcox and Gaddy continued to light up the night with ease, leading to some semblance of hope that Gaddy may finally become the player he was so hyped to be as a senior in high school.
Wilcox finished the night with a game high 22 points on 9-13 shooting, 4-5 outside the arc. Wilcox also grabbed up 6 rebounds, a promising stat that may indicate Wilcox picking up where Terrence Ross left off. Wilcox looked silky smooth outside draining open shots, while also creating a few mid-range opportunities for himself on the edge of the paint. One solid example of Wilcox’s ability to influence the game on the defensive end came near the midway point of the second half when a Loyola player made a nice drive into the lane for a seemingly easy lay-in only to be blocked into oblivion by Wilcox hustling up the court.
One question of the night would be whether or not Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox could coexist well on the court as both players have nearly identical game styles. The answer to the question is a resounding yes. Suggs could have very well led the team in scoring tonight if it were not for very early foul trouble, 3 midway through the first half. Suggs posted very similar stats to Wilcox with 6-10 shooting, 3-5 from 3-point range. Suggs also posted 3 rebounds and a team high 3 assists to help fill the stat sheet for a great opening senior night (well, second opening senior night). My only complaint about the two was the lack of foul shots attempted by either player. That cannot happen.
Abdul Gaddy had a polished night with 17 points on 7-10 shooting and a perfect 4 of 4 from the charity stripe. The only real low point for the senior guard was his assist count, a lowly 2. To be fair, Gaddy did impact the game outside of his ability to distribute the ball with a pair of blocks and a steal to boot. If Gaddy can continue to produce points in such an effective manner and also improve his assist numbers, Gaddy could very well be drafted this coming summer after having his stock drop the past few seasons.
The addition of Andrew Andrews to the line-up severely reduces the stress and pressure on Gaddy’s shoulders to carry the team. Andrews looked absolutely ferocious on defense, with much of the tenacity that made Venoy Overton such a great player. The difference between Andrews and Overton is the lack of cockiness in Andrews, who lets his game do the talking. Andrews was excitingly aggressive throughout the night resulting in 10 free throw attempts. After missing his first two, Andrews went on to hit 7 of the next 8. His 9 points led the bench in scoring and his two assist and rebounds were a nice addition to his stat line. I can’t wait to see what type of player Andrews can really develop into over this coming year as I certainly expect him to become an all-conference player in due time. Andrews nearly finished the game with a monster dunk attempt out of nowhere down the middle of the paint. Andrews was fouled on the play resulting in the ball bouncing out of the rim and two foul shots.
Aziz N’Diaye came up big in the opening game with a final score of 10 points and 17 rebounds. Despite having a very solid night, it could have easily been twice as impressive with a bit more aggression on the offensive side of things. With his size, strength, and athleticism there is no reason that N’Diaye should not become the most dominate big man in the conference and average 20 points a game. When it comes down to it, N’Diaye simply does not have the attitude and know-how to put his abilities to full use. The coaching staff needs to really focus on N’Diaye at practice and put his big body to work. Doing so can only benefit the team in a very positive way as the big man could really open up the court for our sharp shooters.
What Needs Improvement:
The Huskies proved what an impact turnovers have on a game and a teams success. 12 turnovers for a game is acceptable, but 11 in a half against a decent opponent would be devastating. The Dawgs cannot afford to commit such silly turnovers as have plagued them in the exhibition and the season opener. I do understand that the first few games of the year are often messier than the rest of the season proves to be, yet the Huskies did play half a dozen games in Europe that should have helped prepare them for this year.
In a similar vein to turnovers, the ball control that resulted in said turnovers also meant that the Huskies did not execute their new high-post offense to the extent they are capable. Gaddy and Andrews need to do more to control the ball and distribute to their teammates in an effective manner. With 27 made field goals the 12 assists is much to low. This team should strive for 60% of their baskets coming off assisted plays.
What Went Well:
The Huskies hit 9 of 17 from deep tonight, led by the duo of Wilcox and Suggs. The two combined for 7-10 from the arc, accounting for the majority of shots taken and made. Any night the Huskies can hit better than 50% I will be a happy camper.
Free Throw Shooting:
The Dawgs went 22-30 from the line tonight, probably their highest percentage in quite a number of games. Andrews led the team in attempts and makes, while both Simmons and N’Diaye went 4-6 from the line.
This was a solid game for the Huskies and a nice way to start the season. The blowout came as expected, though the result took longer to come to fruition than some may have liked. Overall, I thought this team did a solid job of controlling the game despite the lack of aggression by the Husky big men. When the Huskies do manage to find themselves against a much smaller team, they need to do more to capitalize on their size advantage and push the middle more often. The Huskies pick things pack up on Tuesday against Albany before hitting the tougher section of their non-conference schedule.