Weekend in Review: 10 Thoughts After a Full Slate of Husky Hoops

Ryan Petitt / UDubSports.com
Ryan Petitt / UDubSports.com /

The Huskies had a very good weekend, starting 3-0, and playing better each night. We’ve been discussing the team here at Montlake Madness for such a long time without any actual basketball happening. Finally, some games to discuss.

Now that we’ve actually gotten to see this year’s team play a few times, here are 10 thoughts and observations about the Dawgs so far:

1. Timing is everything: If the Huskies had played these three games in the opposite order, starting with the huge blowout and finishing with the five-point victory, the entire weekend would feel different. But, it was clear that the team grew from Friday to Sunday, shaking off some jitters, and maybe discovering for themselves just how good they can be.

2. The new and improved Isaiah Thomas: Even last season, it was almost a given that Isaiah was going to get his points, even on nights when he didn’t necessarily have his best stuff. He was so good as a freshman that I never could’ve imagined saying that, at least on first glance, Isaiah looks like a much better player this season. More on this in a full post very soon.

3. Free Throws: The Dawgs shot 79.3% from the line over these three games. Sure, it’ll be different when games are closer, and the free throw matter more, but I saw plenty of evidence this weekend that the Huskies are quite capable of beating last year’s 70% mark as a team.

4. Manic substitution pattern: Coach has a very nice problem to contend with in trying to whittle down a rotation of 11 players all of whom deserve to see significant minutes. There’s no way for me to figure out exactly how many rotations Coach LoRo used this weekend, but it felt like every imaginable combination was put on the court together. The only combo I can think of that wasn’t explored was putting three of the Huskies’ four “bigs” (MBA, Gant, Trent, and Breshers) on the court at once.

5. Speaking of the oft-overlooked Darnell Gant: It’s so easy to overlook Gant until you watch him play that stifling post defense, or come out on a half-court trap, and realize that he’s just one of those guys who plays best away from the ball. Consider that, while Gant only totaled seven rebounds over the three games, five were on the offensive side. Gant is busy on defense using his spaghetti arms to front his mand and deny passes into the post. Unfortunately, he has trouble, once the shot goes up, getting into good position to rebound.

6. Venoy Overton and Abdul Gaddy: Overton was the better player this weekend. Not perfect, but more good things seemed to happen when Venoy was on the floor than when he wasn’t. For now, we’ve got two point guards who make different kinds of mistakes.

Abdul Gaddy looks like a freshman. A good freshman, but one still learning to play real defense and be an assertive floor leader at this level. Overton doesn’t seem like he’s ever going to be a typical, floor-general point guard, but at least his mistakes tend to happen when he’s trying to force something good to happen. Sure, he requires some patience to watch, but at least he’s thinking big.

7. More on Gaddy: Abdul will look better and better not only as he gains experience, but as his teammates learn to expect what he’s got coming for them. There were several look-what-I-found moments when Husky players found themselves on the receiving end of dazzling passes from Gaddy they just weren’t ready for.

8. Defensive vulnerabilities: Anyone scouting the Huskies’ first three games will advise their players to try to beat the Huskies to the rim on backdoor cuts, because they worked against the Dawgs all weekend. While the Huskies played good defense for the most part, they could stand to improve on their defensive rotations, and also showed a vulnerability to the back-cutting typical of teams like Oregon State.

9. Tyreese Breshers: Breshers missed the Portland State game after jamming his finger in first half against Belmont. It’s not expected to keep him out of any more action, but he’s the guy I least want to see missing any time as he tries to get back into game shape and become a major factor in the Huskies’ post game.

10. The Turner/Suggs/Holiday Quandary: Of all of his rotational quandaries, it looks to me like Coach is having the most trouble trying to figure out where and when to play his three reserve wing players. Each brings a unique skill set, but none has shown a complete enough game to push ahead of the other two. I’m certain that I don’t think all three should play together as they did for stretches this weekend. But, past that, I’m stumped.

Turner is, theoretically, our best shooter, but didn’t show it this weekend, going 2-9 from the field and 1-5 from deep. Holiday is a defensive specialist, but wants to assert himself more on offense, with mixed results so far: 2-11 shooting the first two games, but 4-7 with 10 points Sunday night. Suggs clearly won the weekend, playing good defense overall, hitting 3-6 on three-pointers, and averaging six points and three rebounds in about 17 minutes per game. But my eyes tell me that he’s the least ready for prime time of the three.

In case you missed our game-by-game analysis, check each of them out at UDubSports.com:

Wright State game analysis

Belmont game analysis

Portland State game analysis

Thanks for coming!