The Billikens thoroughly embarrassed the Huskies last season and after the start for this season’s Dawgs I’m not sure things will be much different this time around. Injuries and an overall lack of depth has left this Husky squad hurting for talent and victories. Hec-Edmunson, billed as the court with the most wins in the nation, has been known for being virtually unshakable and unbeatable during Romar’s tenure. This season, however, the Dawgs have already lost two matches against supposedly inferiors opponents in quite humiliating fashion.
Scott Suggs will once again be out for Wednesday’s late match and without the senior guard and sophomore Shawn Kemp, the Huskies lose nearly 20 points of scoring a night not to mention critical experience and leadership that cannot be marked on a stat sheet. C.J. Wilcox stepped up his aggression inside the arc and worked his way to 28 points with only 5 3-pointers attempted. Wilcox will have to do more of the same if the Dawgs want to contend.
Dwayne Evans makes the third straight game in which the opposition has a dominate forward with years of experience. The 6-5 230lb junior has elevated his game from an 8 point average to 14 along with nearly 8 rebounds a night. After the way the Dawgs have struggled to contain other such players this season, I am a bit fearful that Evans could explode for 25 point and 10+ rebounds. Wilcox simply isn’t big enough to keep a player like Evans out of the paint and Desmond Simmons will likely be needed elsewhere on the court to guard taller players.
Cory Ellis could be exactly the player Simmons is asked to guard. At 6-8 245lb, Ellis is a big man that deserves the attention of a skilled defender. While Simmons has sometimes struggled to fully lock down his man, no one can knock his enthusiasm and work ethic on the court. The kid is a workhorse and we need him to make those X-Factor type plays that can turn the tide in a close game.
In the backcourt, Mike McCall Jr. leads the way. Averaging 11 points, 4 assists and an amazing 7 of 13 behind the arc, McCall has been a very reliable player for the Billikens thus far. Abdul Gaddy and Andrew Andrews need to show some spine and learn to control their defensive assignments and not allow a guard to completely demolish the Huskies.
Last game the Dawgs lost by 20 points and the biggest reason was the rebounding differential. The Huskies can ill afford to be outdone like that again. Aziz N’Diaye can only do much on his own, but he must also be held accountable for his portion of the work. At 7-0 270lb, N’Diaye should be a force to be reckoned with on the glass yet it seems as though N’Diaye can be very underwhelming at times and is often boxed out by smaller players.
Can the Huskies begin to turn things around? It remains to be seen. It pains me to say so, but this Husky squad is not very good and will likely struggle through most of this year. Every win will count and the Huskies simply cannot afford to lose any more nonconference games if they wish to make the NCAA tournament. This all starts at home and with another 7 games in a row, including Wednesday’s match and the trip to Seattle University, the Huskies can get a bit of momentum going by playing solid games and pulling out some wins.