When Jernard Jarreau left the game with a knee injury early in the first half against Seattle University, Coach Romar was left with only two eligible scholarship bigmen: transfer Gilles Dierickx, playing his first game as a Husky besides the exhibition against Central, and Shawn Kemp Jr. Desmond Simmons was known to be out until mid-December after having knee surgery last week, while Perris Blackwell was ruled out of the game with a concussion. That left Romar no option but to play four guards and a single big man at any given time.
The total lack of size and abrupt change in the game plan as a result of losing a teammate to injury likely would have led to a rough loss for last year’s team, especially at the beginning of the season. At first, the Huskies played timid and Seattle U jumped out to a 28-18 lead with 6:15 left in the half. On the next play Andrew Andrews nailed a three on an assist from Mike Anderson. Then Anderson stole the ball and dished the assist to Kemp. A few minutes later true freshman Darin Johnson, who scored 16, tied it up 28-28 with a three. By halftime the Huskies led 42-33.
Anderson, a JUCO transfer playing his first regular season game for Washington, was a huge element of the momentum swing. A shooting guard with the size to play small forward, Anderson was forced to step up as the most post-like of the four guards on the floor. He crashed the boards on defense and drove in with reckless abandon to earn a healthy stream of free throw attempts.
The Redhawks brought the score back within two with a quick run to start the second half, but despite a marked size advantage Seattle U was not able to fully dominate on the boards or scoring in the paint. Roughly a ten-point margin held for the rest of the game, which was finished off with a ton of Husky free throws as Seattle U players continued to foul to the last possession.
C.J. Wilcox scored 22 points, nearly half of which came from his 10-10 free throw shooting, to go with 7 rebounds and four assists (with a team-high five turnovers). Andrews wasn’t far behind with 21, while Mike Anderson scored 12, grabbed 8 boards, and dished three assists. Highly-touted freshman Nigel Williams-Goss looked a little tentative and struggled with 2-7 shooting, but he also stole the ball three times and accounted for 6 assists to 2 turnovers.
The return of Perris Blackwell will be huge, as his low-post game is a focal point of the team’s offensive approach. Tonight, short of so many big bodies, a double-digit win is encouraging against an opponent as solid as Seattle Univeristy, especially with how many players were wearing purple and gold on the court for the first time.