Tuesday night, the Huskies faced off against the Great Danes of the University at Albany, and came up short 63-62. The Dawgs struggled early and often to find offense as senior wing Scott Suggs went down two minutes into the game, and junior C.J. Wilcox couldn’t find his stroke. They finished the half down 31-27. Positively, the Huskies had 20 points in the paint at the half, but suffered from 8 turnovers and next to nothing from the perimeter.
In the second half, the Huskies took the lead early, but could not pull away, as the Great Danes forced them into to their brand of basketball – half court. The Albany guards, Mike Black and Jacob Iati, drove the attack and eventually pulled ahead 54-53 with 5:04 to play. After several Washington defensive lapses and directionless offensive possessions, Wilcox drilled a much needed 3 with 1:36 to deadlock the game at 58. On the ensuing Albany possession, the Huskies came up with a steal and a foul, sent the freshman Andrew Andrews to the line, who knocked down both attempts. After giving up a three in the corner, the Huskies called a timeout with 28.8 seconds left. Gaddy took the ball at the top, dribbled right and found Aziz N’Diaye in the paint, who was fouled. He missed both, but in a flurry, Gaddy came up with the rebound, spun and banked in a difficult shot to give UW a 62-61 lead. But, as fate would have it, on their final possession, senior guard, Mike Black, on a high pick and roll, went around Wilcox for a lay in, the lead and eventual win.
Credit is due Albany, who executed their game plan well. They were effective from long range and their pick and roll gave the Dawgs fits all night. Regardless, this game, for me, harkened back to last year, when early loses doomed what otherwise could have been another tournament bid season. Hopefully, Tuesday night’s game was a just blip on the radar, an anomaly, where the Dawgs just “didn’t have it”; not indicative of a systemic, long-term problem. If the Huskies don’t defend basic half-court sets, and learn to close, however, systemic may be an understatement.