The season (sort of) begins today at 7pm with an exhibition at Hec Ed against Central Washington University. The game doesn’t factor into Washington’s record, but you can bet a loss to a Division II opponent like Central would be a well-publicized embarrassment. Lucky for Coach Romar, that likely won’t be a problem. Central lost to Washington State 93-56 a few weeks back, and the Cougars are a popular choice to finish last in the conference.
Even if the outcome is without a ton of importance, the game is significant as the debut for several Husky basketball players. Freshmen Nigel Williams-Goss and Darin Johnson will likely play, as well as transfers Perris Blackwell and Gilles Dierickx, both of whom spent last year on the sideline per NCAA rules.
Romar has announced that Nigel Williams-Goss, Andrew Andrews, C.J. Wilcox, Jernard Jarreau, and Perris Blackwell will start the game. The only real surprise is Jarreau, as many assumed that Kemp would earn a starting spot next to Blackwell. The decision could indicate that Jarreau simply outplayed Kemp in practice, or that Blackwell and Kemp’s skill sets overlap too much for them to start together in the frontcourt.
Obviously the debut of NWG is huge. If he is ready to play at a high level from the very start of the season, and if he appears to have some chemistry with Andrew Andrews, the Huskies could carve up a fairly weak non-conference schedule. If he struggles to hold down the starting spot early, the lack of obvious depth at point guard could become an issue.
The same pretty much goes for the play of Jarreau in that he will have much to prove, but Romar can depend on a ton of depth at forward. Desmond Simmons and Shawn Kemp both started games last season, and Gilles Dierickx will likely receive solid minutes as well. Depth could end up being the strong point of this team, with Darin Johnson and Mike Anderson providing depth at the three and four. It’s possible freshman Jahmel Taylor could play, or that Hikeem Stewart could reenter the rotation, but for now Andrews’ ability to slide over and run the point should cover up the one spot that lacks depth.