Another dismal start combined with poor offensive execution, lack luster defense, turnovers, and missed free throws doomed the Dawgs early. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Against the Oregon Ducks, Washington continued to look like the under talented and overwhelmed they have proven themselves to be. With C.J. Wilcox battling a stress fracture for the second straight season, the Dawgs do not have the offensive talent to remain competitive in the Pac-12.
The Ducks were hot early on, shooting nearly 60% from the field in the first half due to a combination of underwhelming defense and their own talented guard play. Their big man, Tony Woods, took it to Aziz N’Diaye early on and dominated the battle . The Huskies on the other hand struggled to 38% shooting in the first half with turnovers shutting down the few runs the Dawgs were able to string together. The offensive struggle became even worse in the second half for the Dawgs, which meant the cooling Duck shooters were not a factor.
The Dawgs were able to out rebound the Ducks, the one stat the Dawgs continue to perform well in due mainly to the presence of N’Diaye. What remains to be seen is how the Dawgs will fill that hole next season when the Senegal native graduates. Shawn Kemp Jr. has shown signs of being a real, athletic post player with offensive, defensive, and rebounding skills. Alongside Perris Blackwell, the duo could result in an improved frontcourt, which would greatly aid our backcourt in opening up shots behind the arc.
What is most startling to me is that the Dawgs continue to miss wide open 3-point attempts despite having two players who are regarded as excellent range shooters. These wide open misses contribute just as much to the offensive stalls as the turnovers. When an offense executes correctly, shots open up for players in their skill positions. The Huskies need to find players who can knock down these shots if they want to score more than 50 points per game.
Abdul Gaddy tried to take charge posting a game high 17 points, but with our next highest scorer with 9 points the Dawgs didn’t stand much of a chance against the balanced Oregon attack that has become their staple this season. The Ducks had five players in double digits making defensive lock down assignments that much tougher to execute. Gaddy improved his ball play with 5 assists to 2 turnovers, however, I did not like that he took 15 shots to N’Diaye’s 5. N’Diaye has one of the highest field goal percentages in the league for a reason, 5 footers are easy to make. When the Dawgs got the ball to N’Diaye in the paint he was able to convert, yet once more the Huskies stopped looking for the big man and instead tried to force the lane.
There isn’t much else to say about this game. The Dawgs desperately needed to win their final 7 if they wanted a post season bid. At this point the only thing that will get the Dawgs into the big dance are 6 straight wins with a 20+ point margin or winning the conference tournament. I’m not sure which of those two scenarios is more likely. What is clear is that this team is indeed down and in need of a make over.
Perhaps an unseen consequence of this teams poor play is the recruitment of star power forward, Aaron Gordon. Just when it appeared the Dawgs and the Wildcats of Arizona were the top two for Gordon, the big man mentioned Oregon being thrown into the mix and with the Ducks strong play this season it is not unreasonable to imagine that Gordon may opt for a more sturdy program versus a school where play time is immediate.
Let us hope that we can bring home at least another pair of wins to hit 15 on the season.